Skip to main content

Hwang Dong-hyuk’s ‘Squid Game’ – a passion project turned global Netflix phenomenon – has some studio executives scratching their heads.

A unique amalgamation of appeal, low barrier of entry, and “meme-ability” resonated more strongly with audiences than anyone could have predicted, exhibiting the full power of organic, word-of-mouth advertising. Squid Game was allocated virtually no press or marketing budget in the U.S. before its launch, and still it recently passed its 38th straight day of being in Netflix’s Top 10 most watched shows.

The Legend Labs team took a look at some of the staggering figures around the show’s performance, and explored what episodes, characters, actors, and games drove conversation online.

The Show’s Unparalleled Success:

Estimated Value Generated for Netflix
Total Views on Netflix
Viewers Finished the Series
Countries where the show ranked #1

‘Squid Game’ Mentions Over Time

Online Conversation Overview:

Views of #SquidGame on TikTok
Social Media Mentions
Online News Mentions
Radio/TV/Podcast mentions

TikTok Set a New Standard for Virality

TikTok was home to some of the content most heavily credited for driving its the Squid Game’s success online. Users shared open-platform games based on the show, debated hidden ‘easter eggs’ and theories, and formed memes and inside jokes.

Character/Actor Mentions Over Time

Icon Source: Atiiq Azman

Games – Online Mentions

Episodes – Online Mentions

Despite having a lower budget than other productions, Squid Game is one the most “efficient” Netflix shows ever, generating an impact value 47.1 times larger than its budget, according to the streaming platform’s own internal “efficiency” index. For reference, shows with higher budgets than Squid Game such as Dave Chappelle’s most recent special ‘The Closer’ scored an 0.87 on the same index.

Thanks in part to Squid Game, Netflix closed Q3 with its best subscriber growth of the year, welcoming 4.38 million new users. The streaming platform has plans to renew the show for a second season and release a collection of consumer products (including a Squid Game-themed videogame) that will surely increase the impact value of the series. 

While no organization has yet mastered the art of purposefully creating viral sensations, companies must be aware of the power these online conversations have. Being able to listen in and see it first-hand is only the first step.