US watched the hell out of 'Stranger Things 2' last weekend

Nearly one out of three Netflix subscribers in the US watched the premiere of "Stranger Things 2," if Nielsen's new streaming-service ratings are right.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

If you devoted seven and a half hours of your waking life to "Stranger Things 2" last weekend, you're not alone by a long shot. 

Almost one out of every three US Netflix subscribers spent the weekend watching the second season of the popular show -- and 361,000 people binged the whole season in one day, if Nielsen's new ratings for streaming TV are on the mark. 

And that doesn't count anyone who watched it on a phone, tablet or laptop. 


How much time did you spend with Eleven over the weekend? 


Just how many people watch Netflix shows has been a mystery dogging the rest of the television industry since the streaming service began pouring money into original series more than four years ago. Netflix keeps its viewership metrics tightly under wraps -- even show creators themselves say Netflix doesn't share the numbers with them. But the company frequently proclaims its most popular shows to be hits. 

Nielsen's stats, released Thursday, are the first of their kind shared publicly by the television ratings giant. It announced earlier this month it had started sharing Netflix measurements privately with media companies that pay for its new Subscription Video On Demand Content Ratings service. 

Nielsen said the first episode of "Stranger Things 2" averaged 15.8 million viewers in the US in the first three days it was available. With Netflix last reporting it has more than 52 million members in the US, that works out to about 30 percent of its US subscriber base firing up the sequel. 

By comparison (and it's an apples-to-oranges comparison), the finale of "Game of Thrones" this summer drew fewer people -- about 13 million watched it live on HBO or on DVR within three days of when it aired, according to Nielsen. 

Later Thursday, a Netflix spokeswoman said Nielsen's "math might be from the upside down." Netflix reiterated its ongoing criticism of Nielsen's streaming measurement because it doesn't count mobile or global viewing.  

"Our series are global and member viewing patterns vary greatly (what device they watch on, where they're watching, what they are watching), making it very difficult to model, even if they had accurate samples," the spokeswoman said. 

Netflix has said that generally, about 65 percent of its viewing is on TVs, and "Stranger Things" tends to be watched on televisions more so than the typical show. 

The Nielsen ratings also don't measure viewership outside the US, even though most of Netflix's original series are released globally and more than half of it subscribers live in an international market. 

On Thursday, Nielsen also said that every episode in the new "Stranger Things" season averaged at least 4 million viewers.

First published Nov. 2, 2:47 p.m. PT.
Update, Nov. 3 at 8:50 a.m. PT: Adds Netflix response.

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