With “Stranger Things” maintaining its status as one of Netflix’s most-popular original properties, and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” marking the latest expansion of Disney’s “Star Wars” franchise, their premieres created what ratings-currency company Nielsen called “the most-anticipated weekend ever in streaming,” And Netflix came out on top in that battle.
Last Tuesday, Netflix reported that seven-episode Part 1 of the fourth season of “Stranger Things” had the company’s biggest premiere weekend ever for an English-language series, garnering 287 million hours viewed globally between May 27-29. On Monday, Nielsen said it measured the same weekend by TV viewing (no mobile devices) in the U.S. only, recording 4 billion minutes watched for Season 4, Volume 1 of “Stranger Things” and 5.1 billion minutes for the series overall, including the previous three seasons.
Per Nielsen’s measurement history of streaming content, “Stranger Things” is only the third series ever to accrue 5 billion minutes viewed in a week. (“Tiger King” and “Ozark,” also Netflix titles, hit that milestone in March 2020).
Disney+ also had its biggest premiere weekend ever during that comparable May 27-29 timespan, when “Obi-Wan Kenobi” hit 1 billion minutes viewed. That streaming consumption stat is 300% less than what Netflix saw for “Stranger Things” Season 4, Volume 1. It’s important to note, however, that this isn’t a clean comparison.
When viewership measurement comes down to time spent viewing, higher episode counts and longer runtimes provide major advantages, and “Stranger Things” has both.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi” premiered with two episodes, both less than an hour long, and is releasing new episodes weekly until the finale on June 22. The shortest episode of “Stranger Things” Season 4, Volume 1’s seven episodes clocks in at one hour and three minutes — so for the fans of each series that sat down to watch all available content during premiere weekend, it was inevitable that “Stranger Things” would come out on top. Volume 2 of “Stranger Things 4” will likely continue the series hot streak, as the final two episodes debuting on July 1 are roughly four-hours long combined.
The industry-wide question here remains whether weekly or all-at-once drops are the better move. Though “Obi-Wan Kenobi” couldn’t compete on the viewership charts, it’s undeniable that its continued release schedule is keeping the limited series a part of the zeitgeist for longer.