Unlikely HBO Max show is dominating the streaming high seas

Taika Waititi's Blackbeard stands between two other sailors in HBO Max show Our Flag Means Death
Our Flag Means Death is the most in-demand streaming show as of April 2022. (Image credit: Warner Media/HBO Max)

Sorry, Euphoria and Peacemaker – there's a new kid on the block when it comes to hit HBO Max TV shows.

Our Flag Means Death, the latest TV project from Thor: Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi, is dominating the streaming high seas ahead of other hit HBO Max shows

The pirate-inspired comedy series only launched on Warner Bros' streaming service on March 3. But, backed by a sizable word of mouth campaign among TV aficionados, Our Flag Means Death – whose first season ended on March 24 – is currently the most in-demand TV series worldwide. Not bad going when other HBO Max projects, including Euphoria and Peacemaker, have similarly wowed global audiences.

According to Parrot Analytics, Our Flag Means Death was 38.65 times more popular than the average TV show – among US audiences – in the week running March 24 to March 28. That figure surpassed wildly popular shows in Euphoria (35.36 times), Succession (19.91 times), and Peacemaker (19.16 times).

A graph showing the popularity of HBO and HBO Max original series between March 24 and March 28

Our Flag Means Death was the most in-demand HBO/HBO Max original series over the past week. (Image credit: Parrot Analytics)

Our Flag Means Death's popularity wasn't reserved for the US, though. The period TV series also saw significant audience demand in Australia (31.34 times more popular than the average show), Canada (30.64 times), the UK (28.87 times), and New Zealand (27.05 times). Multiple European nations, including the Netherlands (22.56 times) also saw increasing demand for the Rhys Darby-starring TV show as season 1 progressed.

Our worldwide map showing audience demand for HBO Max show Our Flag Means Death

Our Flag Means Death has been incredibly popular among worldwide TV audiences. (Image credit: Parrot Analytics)

Loosely based on the life of the 'gentleman pirate' Stede Bonnet, Our Flag Means Death stars Darby as Captain Bonnet, an early 18th century aristocrat who turns his back on his lavish lifestyle for fame and swashbuckling adventures as a pirate. 

Given his lack of expertise in the field of plundering, though, Bonnet's misfit crew don't take him seriously – that is, until a chance encounter with the infamous Blackbeard (Waititi) leads to all kinds of action-packed comedy capers.

Created by People of Earth showrunner David Jenkins, Our Flag Means Death's first season – comprising 10 episodes – is available to stream now on HBO Max. Not a subscriber yet? You'll want to check out our HBO Max price guide for more information.

Analysis: sailing towards a glorious future

Captain Bonnet, Calico Jack, and Blackbeard share a smile in Our Flag Means Death on HBO Max

Smiles all around for Our Flag Mean Death's unexpected success. (Image credit: WarnerMedia/HBO Max)

What makes Our Flag Means Death's overnight success so surprising is that it's a wholly original IP. The show also launched on HBO Max to little fanfare, with TV series including The Tourist, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, and DMZ given a higher degree of promotion and larger marketing campaigns. 

Meanwhile,  Euphoria, with a season under its belt before season 2 arrived in January 2022, was an established TV property. Even Peacemaker – a TV spin-off from James Gunn's The Suicide Squad movie – was a character that audiences knew of before its first season landed at the start of the year. Compare those to Our Flag Means Death, and it makes the latter's popularity all the more remarkable.

Then there's the fact that Oscar-nominated films including Dune and King Richard were made available to stream on HBO Max around the same time. The HBO Max movies, which surprisingly lost out to Apple TV Plus' CODA for Best Picture at the 2022 awards ceremony, are sure to have drawn subscribers' eyes (over Our Flag Means Death) when they returned to the streamer in early March.

Clearly, then, Our Flag Means Death was up against some serious competition when it debuted on March 3. But, between its premiere and season 1 finale, the show's demand among audiences grew an astonishing 208% (per Parrot Analytics). That figure means that Our Flag Means Death was twice as popular as Ted Lasso was when the Apple TV Plus show's first season arrived in August 2020. Not only that, but Our Flag Means Death was a more in-demand show than Peacemaker season 1 was in the three weeks since both shows' respective debuts.

A graph showing the popularity of Our Flag Means Death compared to Peacemaker on HBO Max

Our Flag Means Death is more popular than Peacemaker was in the three weeks since their initial launches. (Image credit: Parrot Analytics)

It's unclear if Our Flag Means Death will be able to maintain its upwards trajectory. There are plenty of new shows coming out on HBO Max in April 2022, which are sure to pique viewers' interest. Meanwhile, there will be movies and TV series from other streamers, such as Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney Plus, for HBO Max's offerings to battle against.

For now, though, WarnerMedia can rest easy knowing that it has another hit TV show on its hands. Given that Euphoria and Peacemaker have already proved wildly popular among worldwide audiences, it seems that HBO Max is slowly becoming the go-to source for prime time, premier TV projects.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

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