Stranger Things 4 trounces Obi-Wan in latest big streaming fight

Mike, Will and Eleven go skating in Stranger Things season 4
Stranger Things 4 skated to a telling victory over Obi-Wan Kenobi in late May. (Image credit: Netflix)

Stranger Things season 4 has trounced Obi-Wan Kenobi in the latest titanic showdown between Netflix and Disney Plus.

Judging by data compiled by audience insight company Nielsen (as reported by Deadline), Obi-Wan Kenobi failed to pull off a mighty shock in its bout against Stranger Things' fourth season.

The wildly popular Netflix show accumulated a humungous 5.1 billion streaming minutes in the three days after its May 27 debut – making it just the third series to crack the 5 billion minutes plus mark in streaming history. Tiger King (5.3 billion) and Ozark (5.2 billion) are the only other titles to perform a similar feat.

By contrast, Obi-Wan's standalone series racked up one billion streaming minutes during its opening weekend (that being May 27, too), which is still a pretty impressive haul. The latest Star Wars series may have suffered a heavy loss to Stranger Things 4, but the Disney Plus show did set a new record for Disney's streaming service. By hitting one billion streaming minutes within the first few days post-release, Obi-Wan became the first non-film project in Disney Plus history to reach that milestone. Loki's first season performed a similar feat, but not until numerous episodes had been released.

Obi-Wan Kenobi sits alone on a Tatooine cliff edge to eat some food in his Disney Plus show

Never mind, Obi-Wan. (Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

Of course, there are extenuating circumstances for Stranger Things' huge victory. The Duffer brothers-created series comprises four seasons, plus Stranger Things fans are likely to have re-watched earlier entries to remind themselves of what happened before season 4's arrival. Stranger Things 4 volume 1 also contains seven episodes – all of which were released on its May 27 launch day.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan debuted with a two-episode premiere on the same date. Additionally, the oft-maligned prequel movies aside, it doesn't have previously released content to back it up in the same way that Stranger Things season 4 does. Finally, Nielsen's data only takes US audiences into account, so it's very likely that both shows would receive boosts to their streaming minute totals if global figures were taken into account.

All that said, Stranger Things 4 still single-handedly beat Obi-Wan in the US. The series' latest installment registered four billion streaming minutes – the other billion are divided between seasons 1, 2, and 3. The fourth season's first episode also defeated Obi-Wan's first entry over their opening weekend, registering 12.7 million minutes viewed compared to 11.2 million.

Obi-Wan did score one small victory over its competitor, mind you. Obi-Wan's opening episode accumulated 6.2 million minutes watched on May 27 itself, while Stranger Things 4's premiere only amassed 6 million. It seems, then, that audiences were initially more intrigued by what Obi-Wan had to offer. In the long run, though, the beloved Star Wars character failed to pull a Jedi mind trick on the Upside Down.

Analysis: a big win for Netflix ahead of a crucial summer

A press image of a person watching Netflix on their phone in portrait mode

Netflix needed a big win – and Stranger Things delivered. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Netflix needed a big win to turn its fortunes around after an unusually sticky spell for the streaming giant. With subscriber numbers down, the company's password sharing crackdown plan not sitting well with audiences, financial problems, and multiple show cancellations, Netflix was desperate to turn that negative press into something more positive. 

The acclaim that's greeted Stranger Things 4 (and Netflix by proxy), then, has clearly done the job. Now, the streamer can boast about having the three most watched shows in streaming history, the biggest subscriber base among its peers, and the most award wins ever for a streaming company. Not too shabby for a corporation that's had its fair share of bad press in recent weeks.

With Netflix Geeked Week 2022 in full swing, June could be the start of Netflix putting most of that negativity behind it. The streaming juggernaut has a host of big shows and movies coming out later this year, including The Sandman, The Gray Man, and The Witcher: Blood Origin all slated to arrive before the year is out. Add in the fact Stranger Things season 4 volume 2 is also due to arrive on July 1 – with two feature film-length episodes – and Netflix will be confident about holding off its biggest rivals.

Yes, Netflix's problems aren't going to be resolved overnight. With Apple TV Plus and HBO Max vying for its prestige TV streaming crown, and Disney Plus growing its own subscriber base, Netflix can't afford to rest on its laurels either. Still, the streaming company can bask in the glow of a job well done with Stranger Things 4 – and its hugely successful launch could be the ticket to Netflix reasserting its dominance on the streaming landscape.

For more Netflix-based content, check out our coverage of Netflix Geeked Week 2022 with these stories on Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities, The Sandman's new trailer and release date, and a clip from The Umbrella Academy season 3.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

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