Stranger Things may be the most-watched show on Netflix -- at least, as far as we know from the small selection of cherrypicked stats the streaming giants has strategically released. Stranger Things was the latest Netflix hit prodding the streaming giant to keep up its streak this year of bragging about how many people watch its shows. In addition to stats for the retro sci-fi phenomenon, Netflix on Wednesday dropped viewership numbers for Money Heist, Tall Girl, Secret Obsession, Unbelievable and Otherhood.
They came in Netflix's latest earnings release, which painted the picture of a streaming giant having a tougher time keeping its rate of subscriber growth aloft in the US just as it faces some of its most intense competition yet.
But even with the headwinds, Netflix remained committed to spilling viewership figures. Once upon a time, Netflix was notoriously tight-lipped about how many people watch its programming. The creator of House of Cards -- the Netflix show that put its original content efforts on the map -- once said the company wouldn't even share viewership metrics with him. But lately Netflix has loosened up to help recruit talent and drive buzz.
Netflix's viewership stats need some disclaimers. First, Netflix's numbers aren't independently verified, nor are they backed up by detailed data from the company. By comparison, traditional media companies have their box office performance independently monitored, and they're at the mercy of Nielsen ratings as the barometer for TV shows. Netflix is in the unique position that it can cherrypick highlights, and we don't have much independent data to compare it with.
Also, Netflix's numbers aren't fair to compare to other viewership metrics, like Nielsen ratings. While it's tempting to compare Netflix's data to Nielsen audience numbers for TV, or even to box office figures for movies, don't do it. They're not apples-to-apples comparisons, not even close.
Bring on the 'hits'
Stranger Things has been Netflix's most record-breaking original of late. After Netflix initially bragged about the show's popularity the weekend it dropped in July, the company followed up Wednesday saying the third season of the sci-fi hit was watched by 64 million accounts in the first four weeks after release.
The company had plenty of other nuggets to share about other projects. All the following figures are for the titles' first four weeks of release:
- The third season of Money Heist, a Spanish series about a gang of thieves also known as La Casa de Papel, was watched by 44 million accounts, making it the most-watched show across non-English territories.
- Tall Girl, a teen rom-com movie, drew in 41 million households.
- Secret Obsession, a movie mystery about a young wife with amnesia, had 40 million views.
- Unbelievable, a true-crime miniseries drama about the victims of a serial rapist and the detectives hunting him down, racked up 32 million accounts.
- Otherhood, a movie about a band of moms visiting their adult sons by surprise, had 29 million households watching.
Netflix counts a movie view after an account watches 70 percent of the full runtime. For TV shows, an account needs to watch 70 percent of a single episode.
Here are previous viewerships stats Netflix has released (or projected) about the first four weeks of release for other titles:
- Bird Box, a post-apocalyptic movie starring Sandra Bullock -- more than 80 million households
- Murder Mystery, a comedy movie starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston -- more than 73 million households
- Triple Frontier, an action/heist movie starring Ben Affleck -- more than 52 million households
- The Perfect Date, a teen rom-com movie with heart-throb Noah Centineo -- 48 million households
- Umbrella Academy, a super-hero series -- 45 million households
- You, a stalker thriller series that originally aired on Lifetime in the fall -- more than 40 million homes
- Sex Education, a British teen dramedy show --more than 40 million households
- The Highwaymen, a period crime movie starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson -- more than 40 million households
- Our Planet, a BBC-style nature docu-series -- 33 million households.
- Always Be My Maybe, a comedy film with Ali Wong and Randall Park -- 32 million households
- Dead to Me, a dramedy series with Christina Applegate -- 30 million households
- When They See Us, a buzzy limited series from creator Ava DuVernay about the Central Park Five case -- 25 million households
- Bodyguard, a BBC-World Productions series that previously aired in the UK -- 23 million member households
- FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, a documentary film about the Fyre Fest debacle -- more than 20 million homes
- Élite, a Spanish-language high-school soap series -- more than 20 million member households
- Baby, an Italian teen drama series -- more than 10 million homes
- The Protector, Netflix's first Turkish original series --- more than 10 million households