'Tiger King' captured 34 million US viewers in first 10 days: report

In what can only be described as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything we’ve seen before, “Tiger King” has captured the hearts of millions on its way to becoming one of Netflix’s biggest-ever original programs.

For its showing, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” reached a U.S. television audience of more than 34 million unique viewers just in the first 10 days of its release on the platform, spanning from March 20-29, Variety reported on Wednesday, citing Nielsen estimates.

The seven-part docuseries for the streaming giant follows Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, in his exploits as a zookeeper, country musician, aspiring politician and arch-rival of fellow big cat enthusiast Carole Baskin.

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Maldonado-Passage, 57, was handed a 22-year prison sentence for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot to kill Baskin.

This file photo provided by the Santa Rose County Jail in Milton, Fla., shows Joseph Maldonado-Passage. 

This file photo provided by the Santa Rose County Jail in Milton, Fla., shows Joseph Maldonado-Passage.  (Santa Rosa County Jail via AP)

To put the staggering figure into perspective, Netflix reported that its wildly-popular series “Stranger Things” pulled in more than 31 million unique viewers in its first 10 days of its second season, while “Stranger Things 3” hit over 36 million over the 10-day window period, the analytics firm said.

Further blowing the minds of data junkies, “Tiger King” also saw an audience of 19 million among U.S. viewers on an average per-minute basis, which bested seasons two and three of “Stranger Things,” that posted 17.5 million and 20.5 million, respectively.

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While much of its viewership might be skewed due to the coronavirus social distancing regulations in place that are keeping many folks inside, the overall trajectory of the show’s popularity continued to grow with each passing day, as the daily average minute averages rose dramatically from the first day to the ninth -- 1 million by day three, 2 million by day seven and 4 million by day nine, Variety reported.

By Netflix’s own metrics, which measure how many member accounts watched a given show or movie for at least 2 minutes over the previous 24 hours, “Tiger King” remained the No. 1 most popular title overall in the U.S. over a two-week span.

In a recent interview from behind bars, Maldonado-Passage said he dislikes the idea of being locked up and unable to enjoy his newfound fame, and he exhibited contrition for some of his behavior toward his animals.

"You know it would be nice if I could actually see me being famous out there, but I've seen these same four walls for a year and a half now," he told Netflix from prison in a video shared to Twitter on Friday.

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"Go sit in a cage with your animals for a week,” he continued. “I mean, when I left the zoo and I sent my chimpanzees to the sanctuary in Florida and imagined what my chimpanzees went through for 18 years, I -- I'm ashamed of myself.”

Meanwhile, Investigation Discovery announced a “definitive sequel” to “Murder, Mayhem and Madness” that will also star Maldonado-Passage, but this one looks into the grave disappearance of Baskin’s husband, Don Lewis.