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Stranger Things season 4 crushes Netflix’s viewing record for first weekend

Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things
(Image credit: Netflix)

Take a seat Bridgerton season 2, there’s a new record holder when it comes to the most-watched show on Netflix in its debut weekend — Stranger Things season 4. The return of the popular sci-fi/horror series not only beat Bridgerton season 2’s record that was just set in March 2022, it absolutely crushed it.

As shared in Netflix’s top 10 most-watched TV shows and movies list for May 23-May 29, Stranger Things season 4, which was just released on May 27, was watched for a staggering total of 286.79 million hours. To put that in perspective, Bridgerton season 2’s previous record was 193.02 million hours.

Now, a couple of things should be noted for context. First, Stranger Things has a fanbase that has been around since 2016 and that has been waiting for new episodes since 2019; Bridgerton, meanwhile, while with a similarly devouted fanbase, debuted in the final days of 2021, meaning its March 2022 release was just about 15 months since the last episode. 

The length of Stranger Things season 4’s episodes also likely played into this. All seven of the episodes released as part of Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 were over an hour, with many over 70 minutes; in total, the seven episodes ran for 9 hours 7 minutes. Bridgerton season 2’s eight episodes, comparatively, lasted 8 hours 27 minutes. Even so, beating Bridgerton by more than 90 million hours is no small feat.

It’ll be interesting to see now if Stranger Things season 4 can challenge Bridgerton as the most-watched show on Netflix in its first month. In addition, Stranger Things season 4 has two more episodes that are going to premiere on July 1 that conclude the season. How will that compare?

The love for Stranger Things wasn’t just contained to watching the latest episodes — all three previous seasons of the show were part of the top five TV shows watched May 23-29 on Netflix; Lincoln Lawyer season 1 rounded out the top five in second place (64.82 million hours watched). Bridgerton season 2 still is popular, continuing to hold a spot in the top 10 for the 10th week in a row. Here is the full rankings of Netflix’s most-watched English-language TV shows:

(Image credit: Netflix)
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Meanwhile, here are the Top 10 lists for Netflix’s most watched English-language movies, non-English TV shows and non-English movies. Biggest point of interest, many viewers spend the week catching up with 1986's Top Gun, likely in advance of the release of Top Gun: Maverick.

(Image credit: Netflix)
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(Image credit: Netflix)
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(Image credit: Netflix)
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Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun.