Netflix was the undisputed leader in the video streaming market for years. But Disney Plus has emerged as its biggest competitor. For the holiday season 2019, Netflix released The Witcher while Disney Plus came up with The Mandalorian to capture your attention, time, and money. In this The Witcher vs The Mandalorian comparison, let’s check out which show is winning the popularity game.
Netflix claims The Witcher was among its most popular TV series in 2019, even though it arrived towards the end of the year. The Mandalorian had the advantage of Disney’s might and being a Star Wars spin-off. Of course, the popularity of Baby Yoda also helped bring more subscribers to Disney Plus.
The Witcher vs The Mandalorian: Google Trends
Both The Witcher and The Mandalorian are immensely popular shows. To show its investors that The Witcher was more popular than The Mandalorian, Netflix included data from Google Trends in its fourth quarter earnings report for the past 90 days. The Google Trends chart showed public interest in The Witcher compared to The Mandalorian and a couple of other shows such as Apple’s The Morning Show and Amazon’s Jack Ryan.
The Google Trends chart does not show you the complete picture. For one, The Witcher was released all at once in 190 countries to more than 150 million subscribers. It was released in multiple languages, which also helped boost its viewership.
In contrast, Disney Plus arrived only in November 2019. And it was available only in five countries: The US, The Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It makes no sense to compare the worldwide viewership of The Witcher with The Mandalorian’s availability in just five countries. So, the Google Trends chart that Netflix shared is more of a reflection of availability than popularity.
If you adjust the Google Trends chart from “Worldwide” to the “United States,” you get a relatively fairer idea of popularity. The US data suggests The Witcher garnered massive views when Netflix dumped all episodes on December 20, 2019. Its popularity has since been declining, though it still remains more popular than The Mandalorian.
In contrast, Disney Plus chose a different approach, releasing one episode every week. It stretched out the content over two months. A lot of viewers might not like that approach. But the weekly release schedule gave Disney fans plenty of time to analyze, theorize, and discuss the series. The Mandalorian maintained a steady level of popularity throughout its run. The premiere and finale were its most popular episodes.
Critics and audience ratings
Critics have been a little less than enthusiastic about The Witcher. On Rotten Tomatoes, the Netflix series has a 66% approval rating based on 80 reviews. On IMDb, it received a score of 8.4/10 based on nearly 200,000 user ratings.
In contrast, The Mandalorian holds a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Its IMDb rating stands at 8.8/10 based on more than 120,000 user ratings. Fans have fallen in love with the character Baby Yoda. Social media is still flooded with Baby Yoda memes. If you look purely at the critics and audience ratings, The Mandalorian has scored higher than The Witcher.
The Witcher vs The Mandalorian: Viewership numbers
In its fourth quarter earnings report, Netflix revealed that The Witcher had been watched by a staggering 76 million households around the world in the first four weeks of release. But look deeper and you’ll see that Netflix’s metric isn’t as reliable as it used to be because the company has changed the definition of “watched.”
Previously, “watched” meant a viewer watching at least 70% of a single episode of a series. But now Netflix counts as a view if someone who “chose to watch and did watch for at least 2 minutes.” It says 2 minutes are long enough to suggest that the choice to watch was intentional.
Netflix has admitted that its new metric has bumped up the viewership numbers by “about 35%” compared to the prior metric.
It doesn’t mean The Witcher is not successful. In fact, TV data from Parrot Analytics revealed that The Witcher logged about 127 million “demand expressions” between December 22 and December 28. That’s higher than The Mandalorian’s 115 million demand expressions in the same week. Also, despite being released in December, The Witcher was Netflix’s second most popular series of 2019, behind only Stranger Things.
According to Parrot Analytics, its “demand expressions” reflect the engagement, desire, and viewership of a TV series weighted by its importance.
The Mandalorian had a built-in audience of Star Wars fans. It was further helped by the popularity of The Child or Baby Yoda. Disney started selling Baby Yoda merchandise and toys soon after releasing The Mandalorian.
The Witcher was also helped by a built-in audience. It’s based on Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy novel series. There is also a popular video game franchise based on the same story. People who loved the book series and video game were keen to dive into the TV series.