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How Mr. Beast’s Squid Game Boosted Audience Reactions to the Netflix Original

It’s no secret that over the past three months, Squid Game has dominated the streaming landscape. Following its launch on Netflix back in September, Canvs’ OTT Power Rankings**, an emotional measurement tool based on Canvs’ AI-driven natural language processing (NLP) and sentiment analysis, identified Squid Game as the top program across all streaming networks in five of the past eight weeks. In all other weeks, it ranked as the second-highest performing program.

In late November, Squid Game received the fan fiction treatment from top YouTuber, Mr. Beast, who released his own “homage” version of the show with people competing for a $456,000 prize. The Mr. Beast drop garnered significant buzz, and naturally, quite a few comparisons between YouTube, dominated by creator content, and Netflix, with its focus on premium productions. Using the Canvs platform, we’re able to generate some interesting cross-platform comparisons based on the intensity of audience reactions, but also notice an interesting and unexpected outcome: the Mr. Beast version seemed to re-energize reactions to the original! Let’s dig in.

Source: Canvs AI, Top Streaming Programs Pacing after 18 days being live, January 1, 2019 – December 1, 2021

Read As: After 18 days, Squid Game Season 1 had outperformed all other streaming programs over the past 3 years

Squid Game launched on Netflix as one of the most successful releases ever on the streaming platform, easily outpacing every show released in the last two years in Total Tweets and Emotional Reactions, while driving an extremely emotionally engaged fan base.

Within its first two weeks live on Netflix, Squid Game had already outpaced every Netflix show over the last two years, earning over 1.6M Total Tweets and 600K Emotional Reactions, for a Reaction Rate of 38%.

Canvs’ OTT Power Rankings, which considers multiple topline metrics including a total conversation on Twitter, the emotional conversation around programs, and fan passion for programs, ranked Squid Game as the number one OTT program in its first four weeks live on Netflix. Naturally, and typical of “bingeable” OTT programming, the volume and emotional intensity of conversations around the program started to wane as time went on, and Squid Games lost its top spot on Canvs’ OTT Power Rankings in its fifth week live on Netflix.

Then came Mr. Beast, who shared his version of the Squid Game on YouTube two months after the original program was released in late November.

Source: Canvs AI, Top Streaming Programs Pacing after 18 days being live, January 1, 2019 – December 1, 2021

Read As: Squid Game had the most successful first 2 weeks of any Netflix original program in driving Total Tweets and Emotional Reactions

In less than two weeks, Mr. Beast’s YouTube version of the Squid Game earned over 150M million views, and heavily outperformed the highest-performing YouTube videos over the last three months. Compared to the top 10 YouTube videos over the past three months, Mr. Beast’s version of Squid Game earned over 6X more views, 4X as many total comments, and over 3X as many Emotional Reactions. This indicates that not only did Mr. Beast’s version of Squid Game outperform other top videos in levels of commentary, but also that fans were extremely emotionally engaged when speaking about the video.

Here’s the interesting twist. While Mr. Beast’s version of Squid Game was massively successful on YouTube, the video’s effect did not seem to end on the platform. We found that Mr. Beast’s Squid Game video seemed to re-engage viewers of the original series on Netflix, with the program reemerging as the number one program across all streaming networks in Canvs’ ranking.

Source: Canvs AI, Mr. Beast’s Squid Game first 12 days compared to top 10 YouTube videos from September 1, 2021 – December 1, 2021

Read As: Mr. Beast’s version of Squid Game earned over 700K comments in its first two weeks, heavily outperforming the other top videos posted to YouTube over the past 3 months

Despite the original Squid Game series breaking the record for spending the most amount of time at the top of Canvs’ OTT Power Rankings, in the past three weeks, the show had fallen to second place behind other popular streaming programs such as Arcane and Stranger Things. With the release of Mr. Beast’s version of Squid Game, the original program not only improved to the top of Canvs’ Rankings but had its second-most successful week since the release of the series. The Netflix Original surged 8% in the Canvs EQ Score the same week that Mr. Beast’s version of the program launched.

Source: Canvs AI OTT Power Rankings, Past 8 Weeks, Current week score released on December 6, 2021

Read As: Squid Game’s Canvs EQ Score jumped 8% in the current week, launching the original series back into first place when compared to all other streaming programs

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t consider and compare the actual emotional reactions to the two versions of the concept. The Canvs AI insights platform provides the unique ability to compare streaming content across platforms based on normalized emotional reactions (and then the ability to explore the drivers around those reactions).  

Given the different contexts of the content, it’s not surprising that there were significant differences in the way viewers reacted to the original Squid Game on Netflix  vs. Mr. Beast’s version on YouTube

Mr. Beast’s YouTube version of Squid Game was much more likely to drive Emotional Reactions such as Love, Crazy, Enjoy, and Excited, with viewers extremely impressed with his ability to recreate the original program.

Netflix’s Squid Game drove a wider array of Emotional Reactions, with higher rates of Cried, Funny, Sad, and Dislike, likely due to fans being more emotionally invested in the series compared to a shorter one-off YouTube video.

Mr. Beast’s Squid Game Verbatims:

  • Love: “The production was terrific, jimmy continues to push the boundaries for YouTubers!”

  • Crazy: “This is insane!!!!! What?!?!?!?! How did you make the whole show in real life?”

  • Enjoy: “This had my heart pumping. Really happy for the winner! Congratulations to you and your future. I’m surprised the bridge had as many winners as it did. The odds of winning that game are super small. Mr Beast, you’re awesome! Also, I’m a new subscriber! 😉”


Source: Canvs AI Mr. Beast’s Squid Game on YouTube first 2 weeks vs. first month of Squid Game on Netflix

Read As: Mr. Beast’s version of Squid Game published on YouTube earned 33% Love Emotional Reactions, 16% higher than the original series released on Netflix.

Certainly, Mr. Beast’s version of Squid Game received considerable buzz because of the popularity of the Netflix original, but also demonstrated the immense reach, scale, and virality of YouTube as a platform (with much focus on the comparative production costs and time between the two). Canvs’s analysis not only shows how audiences are reacting to content across the two platforms, but also that emotional intensity on one platform seems to drive emotional intensity on the other. No Squid Game is an island it would seem.

**Canvs’ OTT Power Rankings consider all original series published across every streaming platform. The OTT Power Rankings use Canvs’ EQ Score to rank original OTT programs every week. The Canvs EQ Score can be read as a percentile of historical OTT program performance. So, if a program received a score of 98%, this means it ranks in the 98th percentile of all streaming programs over the past 2 years.


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