Suits has become a huge hit for Netflix – and its success has infuriated its writers

A close up of Megan Markle's Rachel Zane in the Suits TV show
Suits, which propelled Megan Markle into the spotlight, is a smash hit for Netflix. (Image credit: USA Network)

The Megan Markle-starring legal drama Suits has become Netflix's latest TV hit – but the show's writers are unimpressed.

Six weeks after joining Netflix's library, Suits has racked up some mightily impressive viewership figures. Per streaming analytics company Nielsen – as reported by VarietySuits racked up almost 3.7 billion minutes viewed in the week running July 3 to July 9. Two weeks later (July 16 to 23), Suits continues to break records for Netflix and Peacock with a near-four billion minutes streamed, too. (NB: new Nielsen data sets are usually deferred one month to allow the company to compile the necessary figures).

That colossal figure saw Suits break its own record as the most-watched acquired title for a streaming service, too, which had stood at 3.1 billion minutes viewed in the week running June 26 to July 2.

There are caveats to this data set, though. Suits' 3.7 billion minutes streamed figure only accounts for those who watched it in the US. That's because Nielsen only compiles data based on American viewers. The sum also accounts for people who watched the show on Netflix and fellow streaming service Peacock, which somewhat skews the series' hugely impressive figure.

Despite those stipulations, it's hard to quibble with Suits' stunning performance on Netflix, aka the world's best streaming service. Suits has spent four of the last seven weeks in Netflix's global Top 10 TV show chart and, at the time of writing, is the fourth most popular show on Netflix in the US. Netflix Originals Painkiller, The Lincoln Lawyer, and Down for Love are the only shows separating it from the coveted top spot.

The series' unprecedented success hasn't been well received by everyone, however. In fact, its superb performance on Netflix has infuriated its writers.

Penning an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Suits writer and producer Ethan Drogan revealed that he's received a paltry $259.71 in residuals – essentially, compensation for reusing a writer's credited work – for 'Identity Crisis', the season 1 episode he wrote, over the last quarter (i.e., the past three months). In a chat with Decider, Lilla Zuckerman also confirmed that she's only been paid a meager $414.26 for season 5 episode 'Blowback' so far this year. Compare that to the $12,568.57 fee she earned for the same episode in 2016, and how well Suits is doing on Netflix and Peacock, and you can understand the ire of its writers.

All of this comes amid the backdrop of the writers strike, which began on May 2 and forced production on Stranger Things 5, Deadpool 3, and numerous other Hollywood productions to shut down

It's one of two ongoing strikes – the other being the actors strike, which started in mid-July – with members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are refusing to work until a new deal is struck with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the world's biggest studios, over pay and working conditions. Some of the WGA's demands include higher-paying residuals, and legislation that prevents artificial intelligence (AI) from replacing them in the writers' room. So far, the AMPTP has refused to bow to the WGA's requests, hence the industrial action.

A trial by fire that might finally be case closed?

A press image of five main characters in the Suits TV show standing in an office

Is the long-running writers strike drawing to a close? (Image credit: USA Network)

The AMPTP's battle with the unions – the WGA and Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) – wouldn't look out of place in an episode of Suits. Over 100 days have passed since the WGA first downed tools, and while both sides have returned to the negotiating table twice during that time, an agreement is yet to be reached by all parties.

But there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. According to Bloomberg, Hollywood's entertainment behemoths – including Disney, Netflix, and Amazon – have made a new offer to the WGA, with multiple concessions included in the proposal. Among them are assurances that AI won't replace screenwriters in the workplace, and access to streaming viewership data, which would allow writers to see how their shows and films have performed on the likes of Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney Plus.

If Bloomberg's report is true, it represents a big step forward – and, potentially, a major victory – for the WGA. Of course, the writers union could push for more, such as better residual pay, which could cause any new talks to collapse and put everyone back to square one. Right now, though, these new proposals from the AMPTP and its clients are the first signs of a potential breakthrough in the stand-off. We'll keep you posted on the latest from the ongoing strikes as and when we learn more.

In the meantime, if you're looking for more top-tier Netflix content to stream once you've watched Suits, read our best Netflix shows and best Netflix movies guides. Alternatively, if you've had enough of Netflix taking you for a ride, find out how to cancel your Netflix subscription.

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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. Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.