The last new episode of “Stranger Things” dropped on Netflix October 27, 2017; it will be another nine months or so before the release of Season 3. But here, absence makes the heart grow fonder: According to at least one measurement, “Stranger Things” remains the most popular series among original digital TV content.
Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and the other major streaming services infamously refuse to share viewership data, but there are other ways to measure series popularity. Nielsen occasionally reveals streaming viewership data from its people meters, while Parrot Analytics offers a proprietary metric, “Demand Expressions,” which looks at a variety of factors in determining a digital series’ popularity.
Parrot’s Demand Expressions does not claim to measure viewers, but rather the relative strength and popularity of a show — coming up with a new global measurement standard that is new to the world.
And according to the service, “Stranger Things” has led the pack among all streaming shows over the past 90 days, followed closely by Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black.”
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The “Demand Expressions” measurement combines streaming, peer-to-peer downloads, social media, comments, blogs and other sources. These measurements are weighed by importance, which means streams or downloads take precedence. Among other things, Parrot figured out how to interface with global BitTorrent traffic, and created a new method for measuring global content demand.
Parrot marketing vice president Samuel Stadler said while the number itself is arbitrary, it’s a useful basis for comparing shows’ relative popularity.
“It’s now being used across the industry,” Stadler said. Netflix and other platforms continue to dismiss data like the Nielsen ratings but absent any firm information from those sources, these substitutes may be the best way to measure success.
Here is a look at the top 10 digital originals over the past 90 days in the United States (Aug. 10 to Nov. 7, 2018):
“Stranger Things” is a bit of an outlier: It’s a show that maintained a steady level of popularity, even as other shows premiere, explode in popularity, and disappear once audiences complete their binges.
“It’s a special show, and the passion seems to be heightened,” Stadler said. “It seems that particular show has staying power beyond anything. There hasn’t been a show that comes anywhere close to it.”
Among other Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why” and Germany’s “Dark” came close, but those shows are no longer in the top 10.
“Stranger Things” will enter 1985 when the show returns next year. Netflix execs and the stars’ reps clearly know it’s a smash phenomenon: They upped the salaries of stars David Harbour, Winona Ryder, and breakout Millie Bobbie Brown to around $350,000 an episode. The show’s other young stars, who made $30,000 an episode for Seasons 1 and 2, will now make as much as $250,000 an episode.
Looking at the year-long trend, per Parrot, “Stranger Things” dominated the stream-o-sphere from January to May, when “Orange is the New Black” took the top spot. “OITNB” proceeded to spike in July and August, after the launch of its Season 6, before “Stranger Things” regained the top spot.
That sustained popularity also seems borne out by Nielsen numbers. The first episode of Season 6, for example, received an average audience of over 5.3 million U.S. viewers in its first three days of availability, according to Nielsen, which reported this summer that the show “continues to be one of the most watched streaming original series, especially among the key 18-49 demographic.”
Among new shows, Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is a hit according to the Demand Expressions metric, having dominated the streaming world during the first week of November. “Sabrina” actually came on the strongest of any program measured by Parrot Analytics this year.
“People are still tapping into this Halloween content,” Stadler noted. “‘The Haunting of Hill House’ and ‘Sabrina’ have done pretty well considering their niche horror appeal. [‘Sabrina’] caught us off guard.”
Here is a look at the top 10 digital originals over the past 7 days in the United States (Nov. 1 to Nov. 7, 2018):