Avatar: The Last Airbender is a Netflix hit, but it's not the streamer's biggest show of 2024

Aang smiles as Katara and Sokka stand in the background in Avatar: The Last Airbender
Avatar: The Last Airbender has shrugged off its mixed reviews to become a monster Netflix hit (Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender has blown the competition away to become the streaming giant's latest TV hit.

Despite the mixed reception it received ahead of its February 22 release, Netflix's live-action remake of the beloved animated series has defied critics and positioned itself as the streamer's most-watched show of the week. 

Per Netflix's Top 10 website, Avatar: The Last Airbender pulled in 21.2 million viewers in its first four days on the platform, accruing 154.3 million hours streamed in the process. Those figures were three times the size of its closest rival – One Day, a romantic drama that originally launched on February 14, which posted 7.5 million views and 50.3 million hours watched by comparison.

That said, it's still got a ways to go before it can be considered the most-streamed Netflix series of the year so far. That honor falls to Fool Me Once, an eight-part thriller that racked up 37.1 million views in its first six days on Netflix in early January. American Nightmare, one of 2024's best Netflix documentaries, was also a big hit when it registered 21.4 million views in its first week post-release in mid-January.

A screenshot of the five main characters in Netflix's One Piece TV series

Netflix's One Piece adaptation is no longer its most popular live-action remake (Image credit: Netflix)

Perhaps more surprising is how popular Avatar: The Last Airbender was when its viewing figures were tallied against those of One Piece, another iconic anime that Netflix turned into a live-action series in mid-2023.

During its first four days on one of the world's best streaming services, One Piece season 1 attracted 15.8 million views, with Netflix's global audience streaming 140.1 million hours during that time. By that measure, Avatar is a bigger hit than its contemporary, which is particularly fascinating when you consider that One Piece was met with critical acclaim (and subsequently joined our best Netflix shows guide) when it arrived last August.

Avatar's cast and crew, then, can take immense satisfaction from how popular it's proven to be, especially in light of those middling reviews pre-release. In our review of Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender, we called it a "gutsy but frustrating remake that blows hot and cold". With its mixed 60% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, we weren't the only ones who were underwhelmed by the live-action reboot's likely first season, and if, like us, you weren't impressed by Netflix's take you might want to watch one of these five exciting fantasy shows instead of its unfulfilling Avatar remake.

Bending the rules

Aang prepares to fight in Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender TV show

The public data for Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender isn't all it seems (Image credit: Netflix)

Successful thoug Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender seems to have been, it's worth remembering that the streamer's viewership figures aren't as transparent as they initially appear.

Indeed, Netflix determines each 'view' by the number of hours streamed divided by a show or film's total runtime. In The Last Airbender's case, the eight episodes comprising its first season cumulatively run for just over seven hours. Divide that number by the total hours viewed – in Avatar's case, that figure is the aforementioned 153.4 million – and you get 21-plus million views.

So, what's the problem? Well, there will be viewers who haven't watched the entire season for myriad reasons, including those who turned it off out of boredom, or subscribers who were late to the party and only streamed the first few episodes before Netflix publicly released its latest weekly viewership data. This skews the stats in Netflix's favor, with each 'view' added to the total regardless of whether someone completed a series' season or not. 

Avatar: The Last Airbender might have been 'viewed' 21.2 million times, then, but that doesn't mean 21.2 million people watched it from start to finish. Knowing how many people completed its first season would give us a better picture, but releasing such data wouldn't be in Netflix's best interests, especially if the total number of people who watched it from beginning to end wasn't as high as its views-based metric. Without the full data set, it's impossible to say just how successful Netflix's adaptation was, and whether it's been popular and cost-effective enough to warrant a second season.

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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.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

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