"The Crown" may be billed purely as entertainment, but it's prompting audiences to conduct some light research on the side.
The third season of Netflix's British royalty drama, which premiered on Sunday, Nov. 17, goes heavy on the history; several episodes focus on a particular event or relationship. And it seems that viewers have cued up their second screens to find out more.
Visits to Wikipedia pages related to the first several episodes in Season 3 of "The Crown" spiked after the show's return, according to data provided by the website. The data compare the three days before the premiere of "The Crown" (Thursday through Saturday) to the three days after (Sunday through Tuesday).
Second-screening - using another device while watching a show or movie - has become a staple of television now, and Wikpedia in particular has noticed the trend. In 2017, when Season 2 of "The Crown" premiered and Prince Harry got engaged to Meghan Markle, Queen Elizabeth II's Wikipedia page became the third-most-visited English-language entry of that year on the site. A Wikipedia editor at the time was struck by "the terrific power of Netflix" in particular, and said the strong performance of royal-adjacent entries "should act to dispel the myth that no one cares about the monarchy."
The premiere episode, which highlighted Anthony Blunt, surveyor of the queen's art, and the Cambridge Five spies, seems to have caused a huge spike in page views to their respective Wikipedia pages; the Blunt page went from 3,064 views to 434,271, and the Cambridge Five entry went from 2,693 views to 80,088.
But "Margaretology," the second episode that focused on Princess Margaret and her 1965 dinner at the White House with President Lyndon Johnson, may have made the flashy royal's Wikipedia entry the most popular "Crown"-adjacent page. It received 707,883 page views, which is even more than Queen Elizabeth's received (542,144) in the same time period. Before the show's premiere, the princess's page had 82,637 views and the queen's had 138,578.
Interest in the "Aberfan disaster" soared, with the associated Wikipedia entry receiving 676,835 views, which was up from 7,697 in the days before the show's return for an increase of 8,693 percent. The third episode, entitled "Aberfan," is about the 1966 disaster in the Welsh village.
Episode 4, "Bubbikins," introduced Prince Phillip's mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, as a chain-smoking elderly nun who endured great difficulties and emerged with a heart of gold. Interest in the real-life Alice skyrocketed after the show's return; her Wikipedia entry went from 11,411 page views before the show's return to 516,796 after (that's a jump of 4,429 percent).
Although page views are just one metric used to measure a website's popularity, the Wikipedia data provide some insight into the popularity of the show and audience's viewing habits - especially since Netflix is notoriously private about viewership data.
In one of Nielsen's quarterly reports last year, 45 percent of adults responded they used a second screen "very often" or "always" when watching TV. And of those second-screeners, 71 percent said they use another device to look up information related to the content on their televisions.
This article was written by Elahe Izadi, a reporter for The Washington Post.