Nielsen’s new Netflix ratings service has its first public results, and they confirm what a lot of people in the TV industry felt but didn’t know for sure: Stranger Things is a hit.
On Thursday, Nielsen released ratings for all nine episodes of the second season of the spooky thriller, which was made available on Netflix on Oct. 27.
According to the data, the first episode of Stranger Things was watched by 15.8 million people within the first three days.
How does that compare to three-day ratings for other top shows? Well, 15 million people watched the premiere episode of the most recent season of The Walking Dead, the biggest hit on cable; the first episode of NBC’s This is Us was watched by 17.8 million people; and the premiere episode of the latest season of The Big Bang Theory was watched by 22 million people. The season finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones had 14.8 million viewers within three days of its broadcast; the premium cable network said that more than 30 million people watched each episode this past season once streaming numbers were factored in.
Netflix has always kept its streaming numbers private and has long rejected the thought of third-party measurement data. A spokesman for the company said last month that Nielsen’s numbers are ‘not accurate, not even close.’
A Netflix spokeswoman did not immediately respond when reached for comment Thursday.
Nielsen’s data is drawn from television sets using audio recognition software, so it cannot measure viewers who watch a Netflix show on a tablet, laptop or phone. That suggests the number of viewers for Stranger Things is actually even larger.
Further, Nielsen’s numbers track only domestic users, and Netflix now has more paying international subscribers (52.7 million) than it does in the United States (51.3 million).
There is some skepticism within the TV industry about how accurate Nielsen’s streaming numbers will be, but many acknowledge they are an important step in finding a reliable third-party measurement system. Nielsen does not yet track Amazon or Hulu but said it hopes to.
According to Nielsen, the ratings decline for each episode of Stranger Things, though that likely has to do with the fact that a viewer can’t get to all of the episodes within three days.
Nielsen did say that 4.6 million viewers finished the entire nine-episode season of Stranger Things between Friday and Sunday last weekend. And 361 000 people managed to watch the whole season within a day.
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