Can We Trust Netflix’s Viewership Numbers for ‘Stranger Things 3?’

The streamer says 'Stranger Things 3' is a massive hit, but here's why it's hard to trust their numbers.

Stranger Things 3 Ratings Netflix
How big of a hit is Netflix’s Stranger Things 3 really? Netflix

Netflix’s Stranger Things 3 is good fun, even if it isn’t quite the creative pinnacle Twitter would have you believe. Thanks in equal measure to the conclusion of House of Cards, Netflix’s reluctance to greenlight series for several seasons, and a shower of awards nominations, Stranger Things is undoubtedly Netflix‘s flagship series. But is it a hit success in the commercial sense?

According to Netflix itself (which has always been notoriously stingy with its viewership data and opts for selective ratings reveals) 40.7 million member accounts have watched at least part of Stranger Things 3 within the first four days of its release, while 18.2 million accounts have completed all eight episodes. Netflix defines a “view” as a member account having watched 70 percent of one episode of a series or 70 percent of a film.

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Per the streamer, Stranger Things 3 is the fastest Netflix original to accrue that significant of an audience in company history. But, since Netflix refuses to release total number of viewers or average audience per episode, let alone provide details on its tracking methods, the general public is forced to take the platform’s claims at face value. That’s not to say the market-leading streamer is lying, but a little transparency would go a long way.

Third-party measurement metrics have painted Stranger Things as the most popular streaming series in the world. Nielsen ratings further support the show’s popularity, with the ratings-tracking company pegging Season 2 with an average of 8.8 million viewers in the U.S. completing the full season within three days of release. Yet Netflix maintains that all third-party metrics are inaccurate and don’t properly take into account mobile viewing and foreign audience numbers. So who are we to believe?

The streamer has attempted to become more forthcoming with its viewership data, though only through selective rankings that don’t include actual ratings. For now, we’ll have to cobble together a middle ground between the company’s celebratory reveals and the gamut of third-party data.

Can We Trust Netflix’s Viewership Numbers for ‘Stranger Things 3?’