ByTom Bacon, writer at
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Tom Bacon

Netflix is a data-driven company, and as a result it doesn't like giving the world much insight into just how its shows perform. That may be about to change though, as other companies are beginning to work around Netflix's secrecy and find innovative ways of estimating viewing figures. Take Nielsen, for example. They've recently launched what they call "Nielsen Streaming Video On Demand (SVOD) Content Ratings," a new solution that aims to give us an idea of just how streaming services are performing.

So, How Did 'Stranger Things 2' Do?

According to Nielsen, the first episode was watched by nearly 15.8 million viewers in the first three days. These are staggering figures, proving that Stranger Things 2 is equal to the kind of viewing you'd expect from a traditional network broadcast. Roughly 11 million of those viewers were in the key 18–49-year-old demographic.

Delightfully, Netflix has told Market Watch that they think Nielsen is actually underestimating the show's performance. "Their math might be from the Upside Down," a spokeswoman noted. "Nielsen only measures a fraction of our members’ viewing. For example, they don’t measure mobile viewing." They also don't indicate international viewing, of course.

It's worth comparing this to the Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead. Fifteen million viewers tuned in to or streamed that show in the first three days of release. That means Stranger Things 2 officially outperformed The Walking Dead. It's a tremendous success for Netflix. The first season was something of a slow-burn in terms of viewing, depending on word-of-mouth rather than a strong marketing push. It became a cult hit, and the second season has clearly established the series as one of the much-longed-for "event series." No wonder Netflix launched an aftershow, Beyond Stranger Things, the kind of approach you really only see with TV giants.

As you'd expect, Nielsen measured a drop in viewing figures as the series went on. Unlike The Walking Dead, Netflix released their whole series in a single drop, and not everybody likes to binge-watch. Here are Nielsen's figures for the first three days by episode.

Stunning performance. [Source: Nielsen]
Stunning performance. [Source: Nielsen]

The 18–49 demographic is particularly focused on by networks, as that age-group is particularly receptive to advertising. It doesn't actually mean much to Netflix, who doesn't depend on advertising for revenue, but Nielsen included the data to allow easier comparisons.

These figures are staggering. They suggest that has now reached the point where it's as important to the industry as any network, and where Netflix Originals are every bit as popular as anything commissioned from traditional networks. In Stranger Things 2, it's clear Netflix has an event show at least equal to The Walking Dead — more likely exceeding it. Fans will be delighted.

Have you finished watching Stranger Things 2 yet? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

(Sources: Market Watch, Nielsen, The Hollywood Reporter]


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