Netflix released the first viewership figures for Graham Hancock’s Ancient Apocalypse, and the numbers were less impressive than I expected. Netflix reported that for the week of Nov. 14-20, the show’s first full week of release, viewers of Netflix’s English-language services worldwide watched 24.61 million hours of the show. By contrast, the comedy series Dead to Me had 30.3 million hours viewed in half the time (it was released mid-week) and Warrior Nun, released the same day as Apocalypse, had 27.74 million hours viewed. All of them paled before 1899, which had nearly 80 million hours viewed in its first few days of release.
Translating these numbers into actual viewers is difficult. Ancient Apocalypse had eight half-hour episodes, so if the majority of viewers finished the show, that would calculate out to 6.2 million viewers. Apocalypse was released the previous Friday but did not make the top 10 that week, so the viewership for the weekend of Nov. 11-13 is unknow, but must be less than the 18 million hours number 10 show Cabinet of Curiosities racked up in its third week of release.
Most series’ viewership, however, falls off after the first episode as displeased viewers tune out. Some viewers also will take more than a week to watch the series. There is also no way to know if subscribers watched with friends and family.
My best guess, then, is that somewhere between 7 and 9 million people globally watched Ancient Apocalypse. According to Netflix PR, Ancient Apocalypse is most popular in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, where the show ranked in the top 10 in 31 countries. Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia had notably less interest, and the show had its lowest viewer ship in Africa.
If we assume the lion’s share of viewer’s were in the U.S. and U.K., it seems likely American viewership was larger than The Curse of Oak Island, which peaked in early seasons with nearly 4 million viewers—but the Netflix premium wasn’t as big as I would have thought. It easily outpaced Ancient Aliens, currently sitting at around 700,000 viewers, and most Science channel speculative shows, which average around 500,000 viewers. But that was a low bar.
While there are only 73 million Netflix subscribers in the U.S and Canada vs. 96 million households receiving the History Channel via cable, Netflix users are more likely to consume Netflix content, averaging 3.2 hours per day, while the only half of cable subscribers watch anything on the History Channel at least once in any given month.
In short, Ancient Apocalypse did very well for a speculative history series—up ten times better than most similar cable shows—but for all the media noise, it’s almost certain that 97% or more of Americans did not watch it.
11/23/2022 09:50:14 pm
I think your calculations should consider the number of people who did not finish the show. I watched two-thirds of episode 1 and got bored with this guy going crazy with poorly dated radiocarbon samples. It's just so boring to think of human beings inventing technological civilization once, losing it to catastrophe and doing the exact same thing again. Are we as a species really that unimaginative? David Graeber's The Dawn of Everything is a much more interesting explanation for ancient megastructures. I'm definitely not holding my breath for a Netflix special based on The Dawn of Everything, but if one came out I would watch every episode, good or bad.
11/24/2022 09:34:17 am
While the premise of The Dawn of Everything is an interesting read, to me it is far more political than scientific. No surprise, the lead author is an activist for anarchy. On the other hand, one could argue that most all archeological interpretation is political, or at least colored by the political/geopolitical situation of the author. Just a year old, I have yet to read many peer reviews of the work; the few I did read were…not flattering. Your comment has reminded me to do some digging during the holidays, thanks.
11/26/2022 09:34:21 am
Yes, I regard it as a very political book, but the arguments Graeber makes about prehistoric societies are provocative in an interesting and possibly productive way. Would love to hear if archaeologists got anything useful from it.
11/27/2022 05:09:57 pm
That is like pondering if experienced medical doctors got anything useful from watching a Tele-Evangelist perform faith healing on TV.
11/27/2022 10:25:16 am
Jason referenced a review of Ancient Apocalypse in the Sun, so I trotted over to read it. Low and behold, Netflix's "senior manager of unscripted original programming" is....Hancock's son. Perhaps this is one reason for the show's higher-than-usual production value funding - and even its very existence on the Netflix platform. Coincidence?
12/1/2022 09:32:28 pm
As DNA, ice core samples, craters and other evidence continues to accumulate, there is little doubt that a cataclysmic event occurred 12,000 years ago. Brien Foerster, Graham Hancock, Chris Dunn, Randall Carlson and others seem to have the goods. Do you folks really think all the megalithic stones were carved with mallets and copper chisels? Any stone mason will tell you it can't be done.
12/3/2022 11:54:52 am
You're not from around here are you ?
12/4/2022 03:21:53 am
"Megalithic stones generally were not dressed at all, you know,, like Stonehenge.,, what the hell are you talking about ?"
12/5/2022 02:43:42 pm
Bad example I guess.
12/3/2022 10:45:09 pm
"As DNA, ice core samples, craters and other evidence continues to accumulate, there is little doubt that a cataclysmic event occurred 12,000 years ago. Brien Foerster, Graham Hancock, Chris Dunn, Randall Carlson and others seem to have the goods."
High Arsenic content copper chisel guy
12/6/2022 04:08:38 pm
Funny how there are all these unnamed stone masons telling you that something can't be done while you can watch youtube videos by Sacred Geometry Decoded and Scientists Against Myth where they are doing many of the things that allegedly can't be done. Or you can read books by everyone from Stocks to Protzen discussing in detail how it could be done. Or you can watch Ancient Aliens Debunked to understand how full of BS the people are who are always claiming that various things couldnt have been done by the people who actually did them.
12/9/2022 08:29:49 pm
We have little faith in Graham Handcock’s claims, and find their endorsement by political writers (or anyone else for that matter) saddening. As a counterpoint, please check out this piece on UnHerd. The anonymous writer believes that the field of archaeology has become hopelessly politicized. He avoids incredible claims, and supports his arguments with examples.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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