The Sandman debut is #3 in the Nielsens

The Sandman debut is #3 in the Nielsens — Stranger Things retakes #1

Posted Filed under

The Nielsens for August 1-7 show The Sandman debut is only #3 in the chart — why is this so different from Netflix’s own figures? We explain…

We’ve studied the Nielsen data (original streaming) and it paints a different picture from Netflix for the same region (US) in the same few days. How can both be correct? First, let’s remind you what we suggested last time:

We suspect a top 2 of The Sandman and Virgin River, with Stranger Things dropping back. The data suggest Keep Breathing is still popular and we’re also keeping an eye on Extraordinary Attorney Woo. There’s a few weeks before the numbers catch up with the finale, so we’re also looking out for Only Murders in the Building.

Before we reconcile the two versions of the same reality (or are they?!), let’s bring the actual Nielsen numbers…

The Nielsen numbers for August 1-7 2022 (US only)

We add the columns marked ‘*’.

Rank Streamer Series #Episodes Ep length (mins)* Total Minutes (Millions) Episode Watches*
1 Netflix Stranger Things 34 75 1,424 18,986,667
2 Netflix Virgin River 42 45 1,389 30,866,667
3 Netflix The Sandman (2022) 11 50 1,021 20,420,000
4 Netflix Keep Breathing 6 35 722 20,628,571
5 Netflix Uncoupled 8 30 532 17,733,333
6 Netflix Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 3 47 504 10,723,404
7 Hulu Only Murders In The Building 17 60 382 6,366,667
8 Netflix Longmire 63 45 287 6,377,778
9 Netflix The Umbrella Academy 30 60 274 5,480,000
10 Netflix Car Masters: Rust To Riches 32 60 274 4,566,667

The Sandman debut is #3, Stranger Things goes back to #1

Why do the Nielsens only show The Sandman debut at #3, while Netflix’s own top 10 for the same period has The Sandman at #1, followed by Virgin River, then Stranger Things season 4? A small part is down to the way the calculations are made — Nielsen explicitly look for people spending more than 2 minutes on a show (this ignores people flicking channels) while Netflix adds up hours watched (not clarified if there’s any filtering.)

A bigger reason (and one we often trip over) is Nielsen looks at a series as a whole, while Netflix breaks each season into a separate line in the table. There are benefits to both, but as The Sandman only has one season, it doesn’t get the benefit Virgin River and Stranger Things get.

It’s worth comparing to last time (link at the top) and in fact both Stranger Things and Virgin River have lost audience, but not at the same rate. All three shows at the top have broken through a billion minutes, but we have to point out this is not stellar for The Sandman and not encouraging for people wanting a season 2 (and 3, and 4…). Remember the big streamers are all US based and the US audience figures hold a lot of sway.

What else happened?


The highest new entry is romcom Uncoupled starring Neil Patrick Harris as suddenly single Michael Lawson. You can read more about the show here, but we mention it as a good example of our blind spots — we look for Cult shows from a British perspective and tend to not notice upcoming comedy / family / documentary / sport particularly if it’s a new series with a non-Uk setting. It’s actually good to have a perspective that it’s not just we who are keeping the streamers in business, but a wide audience also keenly interested in shows they want to see. It’s all part of the bigger picture.

Meanwhile, our favourite Only Murders in the Building also lost audience, yet moved up the table (it’s a low audience week all round the Top 10) and The Umbrella Academy managed to hold onto a place in the chart. We’re confused by Longmire as in the UK it’s not on Netflix (but seems to be obtainable via Prime Video / Freevee) and don’t understand why it’s appeared on Netflix US suddenly — perhaps the show is just leaving and it’s a last binge watch? The show was originally cancelled after three seasons, then (like Lucifer) saved by Netflix for another three seasons, then cancelled again. It’s a mystery!

What are we looking for next time?

Subject to the same commentary on series vs season as for this week, the Netflix data for August 8-14 implies The Sandman at #1 with Locke & Key coming in thanks to the release of season 3 (the final season). We’re more confident Virgin River and Stranger Things will have dropped, and we might lose Only Murders as well as The Umbrella Academy. We’ll help you make sense of it all next time!