It’s official: Squid Game is still the biggest Netflix series in history.
Not even the popularity of the fourth season of Stranger Things – which became Netflix’s most popular English-language show of all time and the first to rack up over a billion hours of viewing in its first month of release – could dethrone Hwang Dong. -hyuk. dystopian survival drama whose reign as the ultimate series now seems assured for years to come.
Confirmation of Squid Game’s continued dominance comes after Stranger Things’ 28-day release window — that is, the period during which Netflix records and publishes viewership numbers — elapses on July 29. 1.4 billion hours of viewing, about 250 million less than Squid Game’s record 1.65 billion.
Of course, 1.4 billion hours of viewing – the equivalent of 160,000 years – is still a mind-boggling number for a series that has been around for six years. But Stranger Things’ failure to eclipse the Squid Game’s record serves to further highlight the magnitude of the latter’s achievement.
For starters, Stranger Things had two bites of the cherry with its fourth season. Split into two parts – episodes 1-7 and 8-9 – the show had a rare 56-day window to accumulate total viewership numbers, versus Squid Game’s standard 28-day window. It’s true that volume 1’s viewership no longer contributed to the series total after June 24, but volume 2 picked up the baton on July 1 and continued running until July 29.
Additionally, Stranger Things’ extended release window was also boosted by a much longer runtime than the Squid Game. The latter’s nine episodes totaled approximately eight hours, while the former’s nine episodes totaled 13 hours (courtesy of two eye-watering final entries).
Essentially, then, watching the entire fourth season of Stranger Things would have contributed more to the grand total of views than completing an equivalent Squid Game binge. Unfair, right?
And yet, Squid Game remains Netflix’s biggest show of all time – which begs the question: Will anything bring down the South Korean phenomenon?
a familiar enemy
For our money, the only threat to Squid Game’s dominance on Netflix for the immediate future is… Squid Game. Or more specifically, Squid Game season 2.
“But what about Season 5 of Stranger Things?” we hear you cry. Yes, it’s more than likely that the fifth and final installment in the series will follow in its predecessor’s footsteps by joining the Netflix billionaires club – but the Squid Game’s omnipotent record may still remain elusive.
Consider how popular the fourth season of Stranger Things has become. The show had the internet – and the global music charts – in its grip for months on end. The likes of Vecna, Steve and Max have been the subject of watercooler conversations around the world. Heck, Stranger Things made the return of the galaxy’s most famous Jedi look like a Friends rerun.
And it still hasn’t managed to take down Hwang Dong-hyuk’s survival series. It’s also worth noting that Season 4 of Stranger Things wasn’t universally praised by audiences in the same way as previous entries on the show. Some fans were frustrated with this season’s excessively long runtime and the Duffer brothers’ reluctance to kill off main characters, suggesting there may be a slight drop in ratings for season 5.
So despite Stranger Things’ enduring popularity, we don’t think its fifth and final season – nor any other Netflix movie or TV series – will come close to the success of Squid Game. If that record of 1.65 billion hours is broken, the honor will go to the second season of the Squid Game.
Incidentally, no release date has been set for Squid Game’s return yet, but show creator Hwang Dong-hyuk teased a 2024 release following the completion of a new movie he’s working on now. Stay tuned to our Squid Game Season 2 hub for all the latest news on its highly anticipated arrival.