Netflix claims that over 40 million accounts watched at least part of the third season of Stranger Things in its first four days on the streaming service, giving it the best start of any other film or series. It said that over 18 million accounts watched all eight episodes in the first four days after its global launch.
Netflix has previously explained its global viewing numbers include any account that has watched at least 70% of an episode or movie.
Netflix has 60 million paid members in the United States and a further 88 million elsewhere.
Nielsen tracks viewing of Netflix on television in the United States, excluding those viewing on computer, tablet or phone. It measures the average minute audience over an episode, comparable to television ratings.
Nielsen reported that 8.9 million viewers watched the first episode of the third series on the first day, according to Nielsen. In television terms, that would have ranked the number two show of the week, behind the 14 million that watched the Women’s World Cup on Fox.
Across the entire four-day holiday weekend, the first episode of Stranger Things drew 19.2 million viewers.
824,000 viewers watched all eight episodes of the third season on the day of release. The eighth episode was watched by 8.7 million over the four-day period.
Nielsen reports that Netflix users watched over 52 billion minutes of The Office and 32 billion minutes of Friends in 2018. According to The Hollywood Reporter that is equivalent for an average Netflix account of over 40 episodes of The Office per subscriber, or 26 episodes of Friends.
Those 52 billion minutes of The Office are equivalent to over 99,000 years of cumulative viewing.
Which is why Comcast and AT&T are keen to bring such shows back to their own online services. NBCUniversal outbid Netflix for the rights and will retain exclusive domestic streaming rights to The Office for five years from 2021, paying $100 million per year to stream the series. WarnerMedia is reportedly paying $85 million for the exclusive online rights to all 236 episodes of Friends for its forthcoming HBO Max service.
While television shows like Friends, which ran on NBC from 1994 to 2004, still form staple viewing on subscription video services, sport still remains a staple for television networks.
Last year Americans spent more than a trillion minutes of sport across the big four networks, ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network, boosted by the Winter Olympics and World Cup football.
In February 2018, NBC alone delivered over 113 billion minutes of sports viewing, more than 4 billion minutes per day, including the Superbowl and Winter Olympics.