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Lights, Camera, Action. Here Are the 5 Top Netflix Shows of 2021

by Alina Dallal , Content Writer 6 Min.
December 13, 2021 | Updated June 21, 2022

Movie theaters are back in business. But the influence of streaming isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. During the pandemic in 2020, streaming service subscriptions passed one billion worldwide for the first time. Those habits are hard to kick. As you can see in the chart, streaming in 2021 exceeded that of 2020 and continues to rise. 

With so much more screen time, which of the 5 top Netflix shows took the crown for the most-searched series from 2021? Using tools from Similarweb’s digital intelligence publishers and media, we conducted keyword research to find out. 

Why the U.S. focus?  

Interestingly, the people from the U.S. tapped into steaming services more than any other country, taking up 21.1% and 21.2% of the global traffic share for 2020 and 2021 respectively. Based on this, we decided to hone in on the U.S. metrics for this list.

Ranked: 5 top Netflix shows of 2021 

With the help of Similarweb’s keyword research tool, we’ve analyzed the total search visits of the most popular Netflix shows of 2021. We ranked fan-favorites based on the total number of phrase match search visits during the month of the show’s release. 

Grab your popcorn and get ready, here are the results:

image showing the top five netflix shows as explained in the blog

The chart below shows the total phrase match search visits in the month of each show’s release. Note: since two seasons of Lupin were released this year, the data gathered from the release of the first season in January has been used in our overall rankings.

5. Ginny & Georgia

In fifth place, we have Ginny & Georgia, a Netflix original series. The comedy-drama follows effervescent, single mom Ginny, and her two children as they move to a new town for a fresh start. 

In the lead-up to the show’s release on Feb. 24, 2021, search traffic for Ginny & Georgia was low. In December 2020, total phrase match search visits sat only at 460, and there were zero total related keyword search visits. 

By January 2021, search visits jumped 247% to 1,600 total phrase match search visits and total related keyword search visits rocketed up by 119,900% to 1,200.

In the month of release, total phrase match search visits catapulted by 6,637% to 107,800 and related keyword search visits soared 950% to 12,600.

March, a month after the show’s release, saw a peak for traffic to related keywords. Total phrase match search visits rose 290% to 421,500 and total related keyword search visits skyrocketed by 1,003% to 139,000. 

Our keyword research mirrors the data reported by Forbes. On Feb. 24, the day of Ginny & Georgia’s release, the show held a fourth-place spot on Netflix’s top ten charts. Only 24 hours later, Ginny & Georgia climbed to the number one spot. 

And while April saw an expected decline, you can expect more interest in Ginny & Georgia ahead considering it has been renewed for a second season set to land mid-to-late 2022. Here’s to us, waiting not-so-patiently. 

4. Money Heist

It’s a bitter-sweet year for Money Heist, AKA La Casa de Papel, fans. Season five marks the end of the popular Spanish crime drama’s run. The first of two volumes of the final season was released on Sept. 3, 2021.

Buzz already started to climb in June, three months before the release. With loyal fans eagerly awaiting the release, the phrase “money heist,” received 40,900 total phrase match search visits and 11,700 total related keyword search visits. Although these numbers decreased slightly throughout the summer, fan interest remained before spiking again with the release of the first volume in September (see the chart above).

At that time, total phrase match search visits rose 456% to 227,500 and total related keyword search visits soared 505% to 70,900. 

By October, total phrase match search visits dropped dramatically. However, we can expect a spike in searches for the show now that volume two of the final season has come out on Dec. 3, 2021.  

3. Lupin

The French mystery thriller Lupin was viewed by over 70 million households within its first month. The show was particularly successful in the U.S. as the first French series to land a spot on the country’s top ten list. 

With season one’s release on Jan. 8, 2021, and season two just a few months later on June 11, 2021, we tracked how the show about a world-famous thief and disguise master grew into a household name.

In the lead-up to season one’s release, searches for the show were minimal with only 20,900 total phrase match search visits in December 2020. 

By January 2021, the total phrase match search visits rose 1,952% to 429,000, and the total related keyword search visits grew to 189,300. The attention surrounding the show held strong in February.

In the months leading up to season two’s release, interest declined. However, with season two’s release in June, search results rose, but not nearly as dramatically as season one as you can see in the chart.  

Given the show’s popularity overall, it is hardly surprising that the third season of Lupin has been confirmed. 

2. Bridgerton

Bridgerton was released at the end of 2020 (Dec. 25), but in 2021, popularity picked up for the nineteenth-century English drama centered on the aristocratic Bridgerton family.

The chart shows a similar pattern to the other names on the list: slow rise in popularity two months before the show was released (October 2020 and November 2020), a spike during and immediately after release (December 2020 and January 2021), and decline after (February 2021 and on). In the month of release alone (December 2020), there were an impressive 17.8 million searches for related keywords and 610,000 total phrase match search visits.

What makes this name especially interesting though, isn’t just the phrase match keywords that soared in popularity, but the related keywords that began trending.

A look at the related search terms reveals that keywords connected to the Bridgerton books started attracting big interest. 

Here’s the data from December 2020 alone:

  • 71,030 searches for “bridgerton books”
  • 13,660 searches for “bridgerton book”
  • 34,540 searches for “the duke and i” 

We dug deeper into this data further and our independent search for “bridgerton book” in January snagged 76,700 total phrase match search visits and 336,600 total related keyword search visits.  

Filming for season two began in Spring 2021 and is due to be released on Netflix in 2022. Teasers have just been released to excited fans worldwide and we can’t wait for the inside scoop Lady Whistledown has got in store for us. 

1. Squid Game

This is probably not a surprise to anyone, but Squid Game takes first place on our list. The South Korean thriller is Netflix’s most-watched series to date, holding the title of top viewed in 94 countries. The show follows 456 players as they compete in a deadly competition of children’s games to win a cash prize of 45.6 billion (around $38.6 million).

The show was released worldwide on Sept. 17, 2021. Despite the recent launch, Squid Game has already stolen international attention, and the proof is in the numbers. 

By examining keyword traffic, we can safely establish that Squid Game was the most popular Netflix show in the U.S. in 2021. 

In September 2021, total phrase match search visits soared to a whopping 1.5 million and total related keyword search visits reached 275,500 from virtually zero in August. Search results for October continued to surge. Total phrase match search visits jumped 226% to 4.9 million and total related keywords rose by 625% to reach 2 million. 

And it’s not just the show that’s trending. Keywords relating to Squid Game and Halloween came into play in October 2021:

  • 221,700 searches for “squid game costume”
  • 51,200 searches for “squid game mask”
  • 30,900 searches for “squid game halloween costume”
  • 18,100 searches for “squid games costumes”
  • 16,300 searches for “squid game tracksuit”

Luckily, the show’s director, Hwang Dong-hyuk, confirmed that season two is in the works. Clearly, the buzz around South Korea’s breakout show is not going to die down anytime soon. 

And that’s a wrap on our Netflix rankings

Similarweb lets you see and analyze digital trends as they evolve. By tracking keyword interest, user behavior, and website traffic trends, you can stay on top of the latest in your industry and react fast. 

Stay in the loop with what’s trending online with Similarweb’s digital suite for publishers and media.

Interested in learning more about the streaming industry’s online performance? Check out similar blogs below: 

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