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Two controversial Netflix titles were big hits behind the scenes, the ultra-secret streaming company revealed Tuesday.
Netflix rarely gives insight into the viewership of its shows, but in a first quarter letter to shareholders, the streaming service boasted about the popularity of its new Dave Chappelle stand-up specials and its latest super-hero title, Marvel’s Iron Fist.
“The triumphant return of a comedy legend in Dave Chappelle: Collection 1 was our most viewed comedy special ever,” the company stated. “We are also finding this to be true in international markets as well, with comedian Gad Elmaleh’s Gad Gone Wild, a breakout hit in France last quarter.”
The two specials — Deep in the Heart of Texas and The Age of Spin — generated considerable buzz and critical raves upon their release, as well as some heated controversy as some found the comedian’s jokes about women, Bill Cosby, and the LGBT community (including transgender men and women) offensive.
Netflix has been aggressively cornering the stand-up comedy space in recent years. Chappelle was reportedly paid an incredible $60 million for the specials (including one more that has yet to be released), though Netflix has not confirmed this figure. Fellow comedian Chris Rock has likewise been reportedly paid $40 million for two upcoming specials after Netflix got into a bidding war with Rock’s longtime home, cable rival HBO.
Also in the letter: Marvel’s latest Iron Fist, which also debuted last month, was singled out as a “highly viewed” during the quarter. Like Chappelle, Iron Fist also ran into a wave of online criticism, this time for the casting of white actor Finn Jones in the lead role of a martial arts expert.
Of course, Netflix didn’t actually reveal any ratings to back up the boasts — it never does — though given both were in a letter to investors the company presumably has to keep its statements accurate. The company is creeping toward a record 100 million subscribers (98.8 million).