Stranger Things Won’t Save Netflix

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Netflix, long branded as Hollywood’s disruptor, has lately looked to be in need of disruption itself. In April, the company revealed that it had lost customers for the first time in a decade, as rising subscription costs and increased streaming competition drove audiences away. Shares plummeted, as did shareholder confidence. Discussions began over plans to introduce ads and crack down on password sharing. Previously ordered projects, even those with A-lister support, were canceled to help reduce spending.

Enter Season 4 of Stranger Things, the sci-fi horror series that returned over the weekend after a three-year hiatus. In the weeks leading up to its latest season, critics speculated that the show would be the streamer’s best hope in reversing its misfortunes: It had been one of Netflix’s most reliable hits, as sure to draw eyeballs with each new installment as monsters are to escape the Upside Down. It’s the archetypal Netflix title, with a plot fueled by escapist, algorithm-friendly nostalgia, and a cliffhanger-ridden format that makes it highly bingeable. Besides, Netflix seemed to have gone all-in on everything Hawkins: The company reportedly spent $30 million per episode for the new season, and treated its rollout like an event, splitting the season into two parts and bloating each episode past hour-plus run times. The show’s 1980s pastiche catapulted it into the zeitgeist when the series began in 2016; now, in 2022, money would help it do the same.

The supersizing worked—according to Netflix, at least. The streaming platform reported Tuesday that Stranger Things 4: Volume One had garnered a staggering 286.79 million hours watched over the course of its first weekend, breaking the platform’s record for an English-language TV show. All three previous seasons also landed on last week’s top-10 list, accumulating almost 85 million hours of viewing from audiences around the world who were either catching up or rewatching.


Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven lying with eyes closed, wearing a white body suitNetflix



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