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Squid Game becomes Netflix's biggest-ever launch hit

Squid Game becomes Netflix's biggest-ever launch hit

The show is the latest manifestation of the ever-growing influence of South Korea's popular culture. (Photo: AFP)

LOS ANGELES: Dystopian South Korean drama Squid Game has become Netflix's most popular series launch, drawing 111 million fans since its debut less than four weeks ago, the streaming service said on Tuesday (Oct 12).

The unprecedented global viral hit imagines a macabre world in which marginalised people are pitted against one another in traditional children's games.

While the victor can earn millions in cash, losing players are killed.

Spreading around the world by word of mouth, especially via social media, Squid Game has topped Netflix charts in more than 80 countries.

"Squid Game has officially reached 111 million fans - making it our biggest series launch ever!" tweeted Netflix.

The series reached that total in 27 days, since its release on Sep 17, easily outpacing UK costume drama Bridgerton, which was streamed by 82 million accounts in its first 28 days.

Netflix gives limited information on viewing figures for its platform and cuts the data it does provide in various ways. The 28-day debut figures it released for Bridgerton and other shows included any account that watched an episode for at least two minutes.

Netflix co-CEO and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told a tech conference in California last month the streaming service was surprised by how popular Squid Game has become.

"We did not see that coming, in terms of its global popularity," he said.

The success of Squid Game amplifies South Korea's increasingly outsized influence on global popular culture, following the likes of K-pop band BTS and Oscar-winning movie Parasite.

It is also the latest success for Netflix's bid to produce more international and non-English language content. The streamer's third most-watched series debut for instance is French-language Lupin.

Netflix offers Squid Game in both dubbed and subtitled versions in multiple languages, expanding its potential audience.

The series was so popular that South Korean Internet service provider SK Broadband sued Netflix to pay for costs from increased network traffic and maintenance work because of the surge in viewers.

A South Korean woman was in talks with the US firm about compensation after she was deluged with thousands of prank calls and text messages when her phone number was inadvertently highlighted as a key plot point in the series.

In February, the world's most popular streaming platform announced plans to spend US$500 million this year alone on series and films produced in South Korea.

Source: AGENCIES/ng

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