'The Queen's Gambit' Broke Viewership Records For Netflix, Seemingly Encouraging The Entire World To Learn Chess

Netflix made a gambit that paid off with The Queen's Gambit, the Anya Taylor-Joy-starring limited series that has set a new viewership record for Netflix. The Queen's Gambit is officially the most-watched scripted limited series ever for Netflix, with 62 million member accounts worldwide having watched at least two minutes of the show over its first four weeks. This is no surprise considering the stir that The Queen's Gambit has caused online, where it has become a major water cooler series for the streamer.

Netflix announced that a "record-setting 62 million households chose to watch The Queen's Gambit in its first 28 days, making it Netflix's biggest scripted limited series to date."The Hollywood Reporter confirms this record-setting viewership number, though it adds the caveat that Netflix counts views by measuring whether a member account watches at least two minutes of a series or movie — AKA a little more than the preview that automatically plays on the home page, where The Queen's Gambit was heavily promoted by Netflix.

But the series did make waves online and among critics, who gave near-universal praise for the miniseries starring Taylor-Joy as a chess prodigy in the 1960s battling addiction and self-destructive behavior. Netflix also points out that Walter Tevin's 1983 novel upon which The Queen's Gambit is based has re-entered the New York Times bestsellers list, while people are showing a renewed interest in chess for the first time in years.

THR reports that in the U.S., the series has also made Nielsen's streaming top 10, with Netflix users watching 551 million minutes of the show over its first three days of release. It's also seeing unprecedented popularity abroad too, making the Netflix Top 10 in 92 countries.

"I am both delighted and dazed by the response. It's just all way beyond what any of us could have imagined," said co-creator, showrunner and director Scott Frank. "But speaking for my fellow producers and the entire cast and crew of the show, every one of whom made me look better than I actually am, we are most grateful that so many took the time to watch our show. And we all look forward to bringing you our Yahtzee limited series next."

It's kind of an unusual hit for Netflix, which usually sees its true-crime docuseries or genre shows become major hits (only Tiger King retains the most-viewed record over The Queen's Gambit, with 64 million views in is first 28 days).

Peter Friedlander, the Netflix executive who oversaw the series, attributes the show's popularity to its universal themes of an underdog journey and passion for a craft (descriptions I've seen online comparing it to a sports anime kind of confirms this).

"What Scott executed was phenomenal in terms of the precision of the craft, and yet at the heart of it all is this incredible character, played by the incomparable Anya Taylor-Joy," Friedlander told THR. "Her underdog journey is what I think people are really connecting with. She had challenges every step of the way, and yet she's this incredibly determined, unique and unapologetic in approaching life and who she is and who she wants to be. I think people responded to rooting for her against all these odds. There were also other elements — the nostalgic feeling of traveling back in time and the escapist quality of that. At the same time it's a real sports story too. You're rooting for someone to win."

The Queen's Gambit is currently streaming on Netflix.