Home Entertainment ‘Squid Game’ Had Modest Start in U.S., Nielsen Says

‘Squid Game’ Had Modest Start in U.S., Nielsen Says


The phenomenon that is Squid Game didn’t explode out of the gate, at least not in the United States.

Part of the narrative surrounding Netflix’s breakout Korean series is how it seemingly came from out of left field, and Nielsen’s streaming rankings for its debut week (Sept. 13-19) bear that out. The series, which premiered Sept. 17 on the streamer, racked up 206 million minutes of viewing time over its first three days, landing it outside of the top 10 original series for the week.

With a total running time of 491 minutes for the nine-episode season, the average audience for the show was about 420,000 people.

Those numbers will very likely grow in the coming weeks: Netflix series, which most often premiere on Fridays, tend to spike in their second week of release, and as word of mouth and the streamer’s recommendation algorithms brought Squid Game to more users, viewing of it likely rose in turn.

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Case in point for the week two bump: Lucifer, whose final season debuted Sept. 10. The series posted a strong 1.05 billion minutes of watch time for Sept. 6-12, but it grew by 51 percent to 1.59 billion minutes for Sept. 13-19 to claim the No. 1 overall ranking in the Nielsen charts.

All four of those platforms — Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu — landed original shows in the top 10 for the week. Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building (311 million minutes) and Nine Perfect Strangers (297 million) and Disney+’s Marvel series What If … (243 million) are holdovers from the prior week, and Amazon’s docuseries LuLaRich debuted with 242 million minutes.

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Manifest remained the top show in the acquired series rankings with 712 million minutes of viewing time, edging out preschool series Cocomelon (703 million).

Nielsen’s streaming ratings cover viewing on TV sets only and don’t include minutes watched on computers or mobile devices. The ratings only measure U.S. audiences, not those in other countries, and currently only include Amazon, Disney+, Hulu and Netflix.

Nielsen’s top streaming series for Sept. 13-19 are below.

Original Series

1. Lucifer (Netflix), 1.59 billion minutes viewed
2. Clickbait (Netflix), 732 million
3. Sex Education (Netflix), 595 million
4. The Circle (Netflix), 444 million
5. Only Murders in the Building (Hulu), 311 million
6. Nine Perfect Strangers (Hulu), 297 million
7. Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror (Netflix), 268 million
8. What If … (Disney+), 243 million
9. LuLaRich (Amazon), 242 million
10. Money Heist (Netflix), 224 million

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Acquired Series

1. Manifest (Netflix), 712 million minutes
2. Cocomelon (Netflix), 703 million
3. Criminal Minds (Netflix), 687 million
4. NCIS (Netflix), 567 million
5. Grey’s Anatomy (Netflix), 564 million
6. Heartland (Netflix), 456 million
7. Downton Abbey (Netflix), 332 million
8. Supernatural (Netflix), 316 million
9. New Girl (Netflix), 273 million
10. Schitt’s Creek (Netflix), 272 million

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