Shonda Rhimes’s ‘Bridgerton’ Series Is a Major Hit for Netflix

“Bridgerton,” a period drama from producer Shonda Rhimes, is on pace to be one of the biggest hits inNetflix Inc.’s history.

The series will be seen by 63 million households in its first four weeks, marking the fifth-largest debut of any show on the service, Netflix said Monday. If the program stays on its current trajectory, it will narrowly eclipse “The Queen’s Gambit” as Netflix’s most-watched show in recent months. Still, it will fall short of the Spanish crime series “Money Heist” and the documentary “Tiger King” as the most-watched programs released in 2020.

The show’s popularity helps validate Netflix’s costly move to lure Rhimes away from her longtime home atWalt Disney Co. It committed more than $100 million to persuade Rhimes, the creator of “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” to join the company. She serves as executive producer of “Bridgerton,” which is based on novels by Julia Quinn about the eponymous family’s efforts to navigate London high society. The show was created by longtime Rhimes collaborator Chris Van Dusen.

Rhimes, 50, blazed a trail that has since been followed by many other mega-producers, including Ryan Murphy. But while Murphy has been churning out show after show —drawing tepid reviews and viewership — Rhimes took more than three years to release her first Netflix project. It appears it was worth the wait.

“Bridgerton” was Netflix’s No. 1 show in 76 countries, including the U.S., and reached the top 10 in every country other than Japan.

Netflix counts anyone who watches two minutes of a program as a viewer. While this inflates its figures, the approach still offers more transparency than what most other streaming services provide.

The Los Gatos, California-based company also said that its December and Christmas-week viewership set records, both in terms of total hours and average per subscriber.

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