'Umbrella Academy' Draws 45 Million Global Viewers, Netflix Claims

The Umbrella Academy - Production Stills - 019 - Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix's comic book adaptation The Umbrella Academy racked up a huge worldwide audience in its first month: According to the company, the series has been viewed by more than 45 million member households.

The streaming giant also says in its quarterly earnings report that the nature documentary series Our Planet is on track to be viewed by 25 million member households in its first month, and the documentary film Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened was watched in more than 20 million member homes around the world.

In Netflix's terminology, a member account is considered to have "viewed" a title if a user watched at least 70 percent of one episode of a series or 70 percent of a film. 

Netflix has only recently begun releasing the worldwide household numbers for its series and original movies, so there are not many apples-to-apples comparisons to make. But the stats for the UCP-produced Umbrella Academy — which has been renewed for a second season — compare favorably to those for two shows the company spotlighted in its last earnings report: In January, it noted that Sex Education and You — the latter of which first aired on Lifetime in the U.S. — were each on pace to be viewed by 40 million member households worldwide within their first month on the service.

The streamer will release more of this data going forward, content chief Ted Sarandos revealed during a Q&A on Tuesday afternoon. "We’re going to be rolling out more specific granular reporting, first to our producers and then to our members and, of course, to the press, over time and be more fully transparent about what people are watching on Netflix around the world," he said. 

Netflix plans to test a new feature in the U.K. this quarter that would show a weekly top 10 list of the most popular shows in the region. Depending on how the test performs, it could be expanded to other areas. Sarandos noted that some viewers are "influenced heavily" by what other people are watching and use those types of lists, already popular on services like iTunes, to determine what they should be watching.

The company on Tuesday also claimed big audiences for the feature films Triple Frontier (52 million households worldwide in its first month) and The Highwaymen (40 million projected).

Netflix, like other streamers, still doesn't release average viewership tallies for its content. Nielsen measurements of Netflix shows revealed that season two of Stranger Things averaged 8.8 million viewers per episode over its first three days, and the final season of House of Cards drew an average of 1.53 million viewers in its first week. 

FX chief John Landgraf said in February that his network's research revealed an average audience of 8 million in the U.S. for You — still about eight times larger than the show's average on Lifetime, but not as sexy a number as 40 million.

Netflix has said in the past that Nielsen measurement doesn't reflect its global audience, nor those viewers who watch on devices other than a TV set.

The streamer launched season or series premieres of more than 40 shows in the U.S. from January to March; the only ones mentioned in the earnings report are Umbrella Academy and Our Planet.

Netflix reported adding 9.6 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2019, bringing its global total to about 148.9 million. That would mean about 30 percent of its member households have at least sampled Umbrella Academy.