The fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Things is an absolute cultural phenomenon. The popularity of the series can be seen in social media discourse, petitions to save beloved characters, and even crossover success for Kate Bush on the pop charts. But one metric to measure the series’ popularity isn’t fully known – how many viewers have actually watched the show.
That’s because Netflix is notoriously secretive about its viewership numbers. The streaming giant was so panicked about declining subscriptions that they panic-fired a horde of employees and announced a new tier of their service that will include commercials, even while they reported that Stranger Things had broken previous viewership records.
You see, Netflix won’t actually tell you how many people are watching their content. They prefer to judge their success on a different scale – hours watched. That obscures how many people are actually watching the series, considering how binge-watching and repeat viewings are part and parcel of the Netflix experience, but at least it gives us a general idea of how much content is being taken in. One person can’t watch a billion hours of Stranger Things.
That number isn’t an exaggeration either: Netflix recently shared that the series has crossed the 1 billion hour viewership mark, making it only the second series to reach the distinction. Stranger Things is still a little ways away from catching up to the service’s number one programme Squid Game, with the former show tallying 1.15 billion hours viewed and the latter holding strong with 1.6 billion hours viewed.
Still, that’s a staggering amount of time that viewers have dedicated to seeing Hawkins fall under the spell of Vecna. Collectively, Stranger Things fans have spent 114,000 years watching the show. Each of the episodes of season 4 has stretched to feature-length territory, including the finale which stretched beyond two and a half hours, making any full viewing of the season a bit of a time commitment.
Still, 1 billion hours is an almost unfathomable amount of time, especially considering how a decent amount of that time is spent seeing Jim Hopper get the absolute shit kicked out of him episode after episode. There’s no news on how long season five will be, but The Duffer Brothers have indicated that they could be shorter than the massive run times of season four.