'Stranger Things' return encourages weekend binging

There's no mystery about how millions of fans of Netflix's sci-fi drama “Stranger Things” spent their Memorial Day weekend

"Stranger Things" Rift Appears on Empire State Building
"Stranger Things" Rift Appears on Empire State Building

For millions of fans of Netflix's sci-fi drama “Stranger Things,” there's little mystery in how they spent their Memorial Day weekend.

Netflix released seven new episodes of the show's much awaited fourth season and said that a record-setting 286 million hours were streamed over the weekend. That's the biggest premiere ever for an English-language show on the service, beating the 193 hours for the second season of “Bridgerton,” earlier this year.

It's a welcome dose of good news for Netflix, whose financial troubles have kept business reporters occupied this year.

The fourth season of “Stranger Things” is being released in two chunks, with two more episodes expected in July before the show wraps up with a fifth season.

With long, richly-produced episodes, the new season felt a bit like a throwback to Netflix's glory days — and that isn't necessarily a good thing, critic Daniel D'Addario wrote for Variety.

“The show has high ambitions and meets them — but in so doing sacrifices charm and humanity on the altar of looking and feeling expensive,” he wrote.

Others found the new episodes thrilling. The fourth of the seven episodes just offered was “one of the finest hour and seventeen minutes of television I've seen in a long time,” culture contributor Erik Kain wrote for Forbes.

“Stranger Things” and a strong performance over the weekend by new episodes of “Obi-Wan Kenobi” on Disney+ show that the two big streamers are effective in building franchises that appeal to passionate fans but also attract new users, said Cole Strain, vice president of measurement products at the research firm Samba TV.

Unlike broadcast and cable television, the streamers don't offer estimates on how many people are actually watching the shows.

Meanwhile, on broadcast last week, NBC reached nearly 6.4 million viewers for the series finale of “This Is Us,” with the numbers expected to rise through delayed viewing.

CBS led the week in prime time, averaging 3.9 million viewers last week. ABC had 2.9 million, NBC had 2.86 million, Fox had 2.3 million, Univision had 1.3 million, Ion Television had 890,000 and Telemundo had 810,000.

ESPN led the cable networks, averaging 3.4 million viewers last week. Fox News Channel had 2.17 million, TNT had 2.14 million, MSNBC had 992,000 and HGTV had 911,000.

ABC's “World News Tonight” won the evening news ratings race with an average of 7.4 million viewers. NBC's “Nightly News” had 6.3 million and the “CBS Evening News” clocked in at 4.6 million.

For the week of May 23-29, the 20 most-watched shows, their networks and viewerships:

1. NBA Playoffs: Boston at Miami (Sunday), ESPN, 9.88 million.

2. “NCIS,” CBS, 7.47 million.

3. NBA Playoffs: Miami at Boston (Friday), ESPN, 7.19 million.

4. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 7.03 million.

5. NBA Playoffs: Dallas at Golden State (Thursday), Turner, 6.79 million.

6. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 6.43 million.

7. NBA Playoffs: Boston at Miami (Wednesday), ESPN, 6.42 million.

8. NBA Playoffs: Miami at Boston (Monday), ABC, 6.41 million.

9. “This is Us,” NBC, 6.38 million.

10. NBA Playoffs: Golden State at Dallas (Tuesday), Turner, 6.194 million.

11. “FBI,” CBS, 6.191 million.

12. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 5.98 million.

13. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 5.91 million.

14. “Bob Hearts Abishola,” CBS, 5.7 million.

15. “NCIS: Hawai'i,” CBS, 5.47 million.

16. “FBI: International,” CBS, 5.32 million.

17. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 5.31 million.

18. Special Report: Biden in Texas, CBS, 5.26 million.

19. “Survivor,” CBS, 5.11 million.

20. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 4.77 million.

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