The fictional story of a female chess prodigy in 1960s America, The Queen’s Gambit, has been revealed to be the most popular limited series to ever screen on Netflix, with 62 million households having watched it according to the streaming network.
Not only that, but EW is reporting that the show about the orphaned chess genius Beth Harmon (played by Anglo-American actress Anya Taylor-Joy) has reinvigorated the sport and led to a massive demand for chess sets.
It’s worth pointing out that Netflix collects data differently to audience-tracking companies such as Nielsen. Netflix counts a play as any household that has watched at least two minutes of a programme – which could mean a household watches I numerous times but it only counts as one view – while Nielsen compares streaming shows by tallying the amount of minutes they’re watched.
Netflix said The Queen’s Gambit was watched by 62 million households in its first 28 days. Even allowing for its unusual tracking methodology that is still an impressive figure.
Meanwhile, the sale of chess sets have gone through the roof, according to Goliath Games director of marketing Mary Higbe in an interview with US radio network NPR.
Her revelation was echoed by Elizabeth LoVecchio, vice president of marketing at Spin Master, who explained that “our chess sales have increased triple digits”.
The same has happened in the UK, with searches for chess sets up almost 300 per cent on eBay UK.
Nouman Qureshi, Toys Category Manager at eBay UK, recently told Metro: “We’re seeing shoppers turn to more traditional forms of entertainment during this second lockdown. This includes a big uptake in the classic game of chess, which if things continue as they are, we might all be pros at by December 2.”
As well, Walter Tevis’ original 1983 novel, The Queen’s Gambit, has hit the best seller’s list in The New York Times.
Netflix’s vice president of original series Peter Friedlander applauded showrunner Scott Frank in a blog post.
“Three years ago when Scott Frank (Godless) first approached us about adapting The Queen’s Gambit – Walter Tevis’ 1983 book about a young chess prodigy – we felt it was a compelling tale. Beth is an underdog who faces addiction, loss and abandonment. Her success – against the odds – speaks to the importance of perseverance, family, and finding, and staying true to, yourself. However, I don’t think any of us could have predicted that The Queen’s Gambit – and the extraordinary Anya Taylor-Joy – would become the global phenomena they are today, or our biggest limited scripted series ever,” he wrote.
The Queen’s Gambit is streaming now on Netflix.