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Why ‘Stranger Things 4’ Won’t Break the ‘Squid Game’ Record for Most-Watched Netflix Show

With more "Stranger Things 4" coming, the Duffer Brothers sci-fi show still has a prayer to catch "Squid Game" — but it might really need a deal with the devil.

Squid Game vs. Stranger Things 4

Squid Game vs. Stranger Things 4

Netflix

Stranger Things 4” has been on an absolute tear, but the Duffer Brothers’ series still stares down one more Netflix viewing record: Korean-language sensation “Squid Game” drew a mind-boggling 1.65 billion hours (technically 1.65045 billion hours, should it come down to it) viewed over its first 28 days. “Stranger Things” Season 4 almost certainly won’t top that — but theoretically, it could.

As of Tuesday, June 21, “Stranger Things 4” amassed 883.30 million hours viewed over its first 24 days of availability, according to Netflix, shattering the record it set last week when it became the SVOD giant’s most-watched English-language show ever.

“Stranger Things 4″ flew by the previous English-language record holder, “Bridgerton” Season 2; this past week, it left “Money Heist: Part 5” (792.23 million hours viewed over its first 28 days) in the dust. That Spanish-language series was the final non-“Squid Games” hurdle — of any language — available for “Stranger Things 4,” which is now officially at the Final Boss Level.

Barring mass hypnosis, the next four days of  “Stranger Things 4” — the final days of the streaming company’s standard and self-imposed 28-day viewing period — won’t yield the 767.15 million hours needed to reach “Squid Game” territory. But we’ve got two highly anticipated — and supersized, key when counting viewership by time spent watching — episodes of “Stranger Things” Season 4 yet to launch. When those debut July 1, their own 28-day totals will be added to the first four weeks of the seven Volume 1 episodes to determine the official “Stranger Things 4” four-week viewership tally.

“Stranger Things 4: Vol. 1” debuted over Memorial Day Weekend; Volume 2 will premiere over the Fourth of July Weekend. That’s a pretty clever rollout: Give the kids (and the many, many adults who like watching the Hawkins kids) something to binge over long, lazy holiday weekends. Let the records fall.

Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) in "Stranger Things 4"

Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) in “Stranger Things 4”

Netflix

And fall they have, one after another. “Stranger Things” Season 4 had the most-watched premiere weekend and single week (those are two different things) of any English-language show on Netflix. It didn’t even take 17 days (though that is the timetable in which we receive numbers from Netflix) to become the most-watched U.S. show ever. “Stranger Things 4” also became the first English-language series to reach number one on Netflix in 91 countries. “Squid Game” achieved that feat in 94 countries.

Below is the “Stranger Things 4: Vol. 1” viewership, thus far, per week.
Week 1 (May 23*-May 29): 286.79 million hours viewed
*Debuted May 27
Week 2 (May 30-June 5): 335.01 million hours viewed
Week 3 (June 6-June 12): 159.24 million hours viewed
Week 4 (June 13-June 20): 102.26 million hours viewed

Let’s presume last week’s pace of 14.61 million hours viewed per day continued for the final four days of the “Stranger Things 4” 28-day viewing period — a generous estimate, given the downward trend. With that rate in mind, “Stranger Things 4” would finish its four-full-week run a bit north of 940 million hours viewed — an amazing total, but very, very far from “Squid Game.”

That means the final two episodes of “Stranger Things 4” would have to compile more than 700 million viewing hours within their first four weeks for the season overall to have a shot at “Squid Game’s” podium.

“Squid Game” had a total runtime of just over eight hours. Combined, the first seven episodes of “Stranger Things 4” clock in at just shy of nine hours. The final two episodes have a combined runtime of just under four hours.

That’s a lot of available viewing time on a per-episode basis, but not enough to make up the gap. In other words, while there are hundreds of millions of viewing hours available (about 400 million or so if the Volume 1 pace held up, which it probably won’t as sampling falls off) to be added to the “Stranger Things 4” grand total, the math to catch and surpass “Squid Game” just isn’t there.

Don’t feel too sorry for Netflix. The subscription-streaming giant will definitely end up with its second-ever billion-hours-plus-viewed (in 28 days) program.

Oh yeah, and just wait for “Squid Game” Season 2.

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