3 Reasons the Witcher Season 1 Reigned Supreme Over Other Projects on Netflix’s Bi-Yearly Rankings

Published 12/13/2023, 9:57 AM EST

via Imago

In the fast-paced age of today, content is as abundant as bees near a hive. However, quality content stands limited as butterflies in a city. Looking to strengthen its base and provide creators with insights, Netflix just released its viewership data for the first time. Hours watched for all the airing productions of the streamer made their way online officially as part of its move to increase transparency. While the analysis would enable makers to tune content for the audience, it has also revealed interesting trends. Begging one to take notice, The Witcher displayed noticeable aftermaths of Henry Cavill’s exit.

Sifting through the pages filled with numbers, one thing comes across sharply – Netflix’s leading fantasy climb to the top going haywire.

The Witcher season three outranks every other Witcher-verse content

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Judging by the numbers in a blog post by Netflix, The Witcher season one remained the most viewed out of every other season and spin-off on the famed fantasy for the first half of 2023. Logging in a whopping more than seventy-two million viewership hours, the first season of Henry Cavill’s outing, released way back in 2019, ranked at the 171st spot. Following much later came The Witcher: Blood Origin at 202, while the second and third seasons ranked 233rd and 556th, respectively.

Season 3 of The Witcher was the first to experiment with the two-part release formula. Thus, the latter half of the three final episodes had not dropped at the time of Netflix’s report compilation. Regardless, the first season still managed a staggering lead over its 2021 released counterpart. Although boasting a 95% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes over the first season’s 68%, several factors played out in this dance of numbers.

Here’s a look at the top three most prominent ones why The Witcher Season One recorded more viewership than any other of its successors.

1. Deviating away from the source material

Based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny novel, the first season of The Witcher landed well among the viewers. It introduced Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia and underlined the tone. Finally, it also established the rules of magic and the way of life. Tugging in two years later, in 2021, the second season, based on Blood of Elves book, started a notorious trend of veering off course. The show-makers’ deviation from the source material also led Cavill to intervene, but in vain.

It all started with minor incursions. The Witcher season two introduced The Deathless Mother or Voleth Meir. however, the creature had no mention in any of the books or video games the show revolved around. Grave issues started when changes such as Yennefer’s betrayal, the alteration of the introduction of Ciri’s powers, the death of Eskel, and having The Leshen as an enemy, among others, stood out. Moreover, season 3 continued this trend in instances such as Ciri losing her powers in the desert. Moreover, her separation from Yennefer, and the revelation of Vilgeofrtz’s plans, also stood odd ones out.

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Defended to be creative decisions, the off-course storyline became too exhausting and botched. Meanwhile, the superior story in the first season alongside a balanced world gave fans a more faithful adaptation to watch again and again without deviating from the lore.

2. A sharp decline in writing and a spurt of plotholes

The Witcher established itself as a formidable storyteller in the first season. Scenes such as a grand showcase during the ‘Toss a coin to your Witcher’ song narrated spirited world-building. Moreover, highlights in Geralt’s life such as his encounters with Renfri and Kikimora were pivotal to character building. Finally, fleshed-out backstories including that of Yennefer stood out as riveting pieces of intrigue and pulled the audience, giving it a re-watchable factor. However, problems soon came alongside season two.

The 2021 installment dropped in viewership score as the audience complained of narrative imbalance. Scenes such as the Witchers from Kaer Morhen serving nearly no purpose, and Vilgefortz and Cahir being turned into a mockery did not sit well. Logical plot holes such as Lambert’s anger ran rampant while sloppy writing stood out. Finally, the third season stepped it a notch up when Geralt did not show up for a majority and received a somber farewell, much to fans’ dislike.

3. No more Henry Cavill as The Witcher

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In October 2022, Henry Cavill took to his Instagram and announced his departure from The Witcher. Thus, the third season remained largely avoided by long-time fans of the Man of Steel actor. Ironically, Netflix dug its own grave by announcing it replacing him with Liam Hemsworth before the third season aired. As such, the show’s viewership plummeted to record lows. However, beyond fans’ hype, The Witcher did stand upon Henry Cavill’s shoulders.

Not only was the British actor acutely aware of the source, but he also dedicated himself to the role. Weight training, swordsmanship practice, and maintaining his physique were of tantamount importance for the star. Taking fans along with himself on a firmly helmed performance, Cavill’s acting prowess remained beyond compare. Thus, concerns regarding Hemsworth’s takeover snatched away many fans from the series. Running amok with several stray storylines, an uphill task lies in sailing the ship back to calmer waters.

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What are your thoughts on the above reasons coming across as strong answers for The Witcher season one viewership surpassing its successors? Let us know in the comments below.

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Imteshal Karim

850 articles

Imteshal Karim is a Hollywood News reporter at NetflixJunkie. With a penchant for writing in multiple forms, he is a published writer with his works published in anthologies. A star at his college’s writing competitions, he loves telling a good story and hopes to tell impactful ones about the unexplored side of the Entertainment industry.

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