Netflix Claims 'Narcos' Viewers Outnumber 'Game Of Thrones' Viewers, Is This Even True?

The general consensus is that HBO's Game of Thrones is one of the most popular television series available on cable. However, Netflix has disputed this claim recently by bragging their show, Narcos, actually beats Game of Thrones.

According to The Independent and Parrot Analytics, HBO's Game of Thrones has more than 6.4 million "demand impressions" in the U.K. alone. Netflix's Narcos, the TV series about the Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar (played by Wagner Moura) and resultant spread of drug cartels across the globe, comes in at No. 2 with just over 2.2 million demand impressions. However, even though there is a gap of 4 million impressions between first and second place, Netflix has now claimed Narcos is watched by more people globally than HBO's Game of Thrones.

"We're pleased to take the number two spot, but think it's number one because they don't measure all the devices."
It is a bold claim that Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos made during the recent UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York. But how can he make this claim? And is their any substance to it?

Netflix claims Narcos is more popular than Game of Thrones
[Image Credit: Netflix]As Sarantos stated, Narcos has an international appeal that Game of Thrones may be lacking in. "Eighty-five percent [of its dialogue] is in Spanish," Sarantos was quoted as saying by The Hollywood Reporter during the conference. "It's produced by a French company, shot in Colombia with Brazilian stars and hugely popular in Germany. This is the first flavor of what global television can be."

Something interesting to note in regards to the global appeal is the fact that one of the actors in Narcos, Pedro Pascal, played the hugely popular (but short-lived) character of Oberyn Martell in HBO's Game of Thrones. Of the 6.4 million U.K. fans of Game of Thrones, it is likely that at least some tuned into watch Narcos just because Pascal was in it (I know I certainly did). Whether the show then kept audience members tuned in for its content is to be debated. While many viewers watch varied genres of TV content, it could be argued that getting viewers who are fans of Game of Thrones hooked on a show about drug dealers is perhaps too hard a task. Others would then argue that people who watch shows like Game of Thrones also watch series such as Netflix's other giant, Orange is the New Black and, therefore, isn't such a big stretch for Sarantos to make such a claim.

Pedro Pascal stars as Oberyn Martell in HBO's Game of Thrones
[Image credit: HBO Inc.]But, with Netflix so closeted with their figures for viewers of their programming, it is unlikely there will ever be any concrete evidence or figures to back up Sarantos' claims about Narcos. As Vulture pointed out in their article on Netflix's unknown ratings, the network claims to "know precious little about who's watching their shows." Something that frustrates the other networks and has led to claims it is unfair that Netflix cannot be subjected to the same ratings procedures as the rest of them. While it may be true that Netflix cannot get reliable data on who is watching what on their network, if this is the case, how can they even claim to know that more people are watching Narcos than Game of Thrones?

According to Sarantos, the original source for the figures only uses demand impressions for their figures, which skews the figures due to the lack of platforms provided. Netflix claim if all device viewing platforms were included then Narcos would be a clear winner over Game of Thrones as the assumption is that Netflix viewers watch their programming on multiple devices, whereas HBO subscribers are more likely to watch their programming on the one platform (being television).

Another thing that could be considered in regards to who is watching Narcos is the illegal downloading of content. According to Business Insider, Australia tops the world as far as downloading illegal content. But could this be enough to sway figures as well? A quick search of some of the top pirating sites shows, roughly, a three to one ratio of torrents for Game of Thrones as opposed to Narcos. If this is an indicator, then illegally downloaded content does not seem to indicate that Narcos is more popular than Game of Thrones, regardless of what Netflix claims. According to News Australia, illegal downloading of content is now a determining factor in what content is kept by networks. Basically, if a program is popular enough to be downloaded at a rapid pace, it is a program worth keeping.

Have you watched Narcos? Do you think Netflix is right in assuming their show trumps Game of Thrones? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!

Narcos is currently available on Netflix. Game of Thrones returns to HBO for Season 6 in 2016.

[Image credit: HBO Inc./Netflix]