Netflix reveals its most-watched movies and shows for early 2023 – and it turns out we love FBI agents

Peter Sutherland looks concerned in The Night Agent on Netflix
The Night Agent is the latest smash hit TV show on Netflix. (Image credit: Dan Power/Netflix)

For years, Netflix has kept its viewing figures secret: it publishes its weekly streaming charts, of course, but that's about it. That's now changed, and the streamer says it'll publish a "comprehensive report" twice yearly showing what its most popular movies and shows are for each six month period.

The first report, titled What We Watched, is available now – and the number one show globally may not be what you expect. With over 812 million viewing hours, it's the first season of FBI thriller The Night Agent, which we had originally thought wouldn't surpass the likes of Stranger Things

Season two of Ginny & Georgia is at number two, The Glory season one is third, the first season of Wednesday is in at number four and wrapping up the top five most watched titles in the first half of 2023 is Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.

What can we learn from What We Watched?

Because the data is only for the first half of the year it doesn't tell us how many people watched Squid Game: The Challenge or Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, both of which are likely to show big numbers for the second half of 2023.

Most, but not all, of the top 50 were available globally throughout the period – but there are some exceptions including season three of Telemundo's drug-crime drama La Reina del Sur (Queen of the South), which racked up 429 million hours despite not arriving on the US version of the service until May 2023, several months after it was available on Netflix in other territories. 

It's interesting to see that Netflix hasn't just published the winners. The report lists nearly 20,000 shows and films, and that means it includes shows that barely cracked the 100,000 hour mark. 

Netflix isn't just doing this because information is beautiful. A key part of the negotiations between entertainment firms and the actors' and writers' unions was over better viewership transparency. While Netflix boss Ted Sarandos says the strikes were not the main factor in releasing the report, it seems unlikely that we'd be seeing this data if it weren't for the strike negotiations. By publishing viewing data, Netflix is giving important information not just to show creators but to its rivals too. 

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.