Northern Ireland

Netflix: Most popular Irish titles revealed as streaming service breaks silence on viewing figures

An anguished Penelope Featherington contemplates the futility of pursuing the dashing Colin Bridgerton
The major sucess of several Irish actors and productions on Netflix has been revealed as the streaming service has finally published their viewing figures. Pictured is Derry Girls actress Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton. (LAURENCE CENDROWICZ/NETFLIX)

AS Netflix bosses have finally chosen to release their viewing figures after years of strict secrecy, the popularity of Irish-linked titles with global audiences has been revealed.

The streaming service already releases a weekly top 10 list, but will now release a more detailed breakdown every six months entitled What We Watched: A Netflix Engagement Report.

It follows pressure for more transparency this year after Hollywood strikes from actors and writers.

From January to June 2023, the most-watched show was The Night Agent: Season 1 which boasted 812,100,000 hours viewed, followed by Ginny & Georgia: Season 2 with 665,100,000 hours.

The biggest hit for Ireland was arguably the historical romance Bridgerton, featuring Derry Girls actress Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington – with the series attracting an impressive 136.6m hours of viewing.

Peaky Blinders was next, starring Irish actor Cillian Murphy in the lead role as Birmingham gangster Tommy Shelby, with 61.1m hours of viewing for the first season and still pulling in 36.9m hours by season six.

Controversial MMA star Conor McGregor’s McGregor Forever docuseries attracted 41m hours of viewing, while Ballymena’s Liam Neeson had a steady audience for his revolving door of action-flicks including The Ice Road (9.8m) and Cold Pursuit (1.8m).

Colin Farrell’s role in Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen had 13m hours of viewing while Lisa McGee’s comedy Derry Girls had 6.4m hours for the first season followed by 5.2 and 5.7m respectively for seasons two and three.

For Northern Ireland actor Jamie Dornan, his Belfast-set serial killer drama The Fall gathered 6.6m, 7.1m and 5.9m hours of viewing over three seasons.

His war drama The Siege of Jadotville also gained 3.5 million viewers.

Peaky Blinders
Irish actor Cillian Murphy's starring role as gangster Tommy Shelby has proved to be one of the biggest hits on Netflix.

Rebellion, the dramatisation for the 1916 Easter Rising, generated 2.4m and 1.4m hours over two seasons.

Irish writer and performer Sharon Horgan’s family-themed comedy Catastrophe received 1.8m, 1.2m, 1m and 900,000 hours of viewing over four seasons.

James Nesbitt’s The Missing had 2.6m and 1.8m hours of viewing over two seasons, while The Secret, where he played killer dentist Colin Howell was watched for 800,000 hours.

The Foreigner, starring Pierce Brosnan as a Gerry Adams-esque figure pitted against action legend Jackie Chan enjoyed 2.7m.

Troubles-era drama’71, starring Jack O’Connell as a stranded British soldier fighting for his life in Belfast, gained 1m hours of viewing.

Only titles with over 50,000 hours of viewing were included in Netflix’s list.

Also making the cut was Fermanagh actor Adrian Dunbar, aka Line of Duty’s Ted Hastings, for his Coastal Ireland documentary which gained 200,000 hours of viewing.

Filming in Ulster
Lisa McGee's comedy Derry Girls was a smash-hit for Channel 4 but has also found a global audience trough Netflix.

ReMastered: The Miami Showband Massacre documentary also had the same amount of screen time.

In a press release, the streaming service said: “This is a big step forward for Netflix and our industry.

“We believe the viewing information in this report… will give creators and our industry deeper insights into our audiences, and what resonates with them.”

The revenue generated by streaming services is a major focus for the Hollywood strikes, as writers and actors would previously have survived on larger residual payments if a show became a hit on terrestrial networks.

They have now called for similar payments for highly-watched shows on streaming services.