Stranger Things 4 is demolishing Netflix records – but can it eclipse Squid Game?

Stranger Things poster and Squid Game image side-by-side
(Image credit: Netflix / Future)

Stranger Things season 4 has officially entered the Netflix billionaire's club. 

Following the release of season 4’s final two episodes on July 1, the latest entry in the Duffer Brothers’ acclaimed sci-fi show has become the biggest English-language Netflix series of all time and the first to rack up over one billion viewing hours in its first 28 days of release.

As per the streamer’s most recent popularity rankings, Stranger Things season 4 accrued almost twice as big an audience as the second-most popular English-language Netflix series, Bridgerton season 2 (which earned 656 million viewing hours in its opening month), and has so far registered around half a billion more viewing hours than Stranger Things season 3 managed in the same period. 

Stranger Things season 4 is now second only to Squid Game on the list of the streamer’s most popular TV series, period, and although episodes 1-7 will no longer count towards the show’s running total, episodes 8 and 9 still have the power to dethrone Hwang Dong-hyuk's dystopian survival drama if they continue to rake in the viewers.

At the time of writing, Stranger Things season 4 has racked up an almighty 1.15 billion first-month viewing hours – but Squid Game achieved an even more eye-watering 1.65 billion figure (for perspective, that means audiences spent more than 182,000 cumulative years watching the show in its first four weeks of release).

Can Stranger Things really dethrone Squid Game? 

As mentioned, Stranger Things season 4 volume 2 will continue to grow the season’s total first-month viewing figures until its 28-day release window elapses on July 28. To eclipse Squid Game, episodes 8 and 9 will need to generate almost exactly 500 million more viewing hours in just over four weeks.

Max levitating in Stranger Things season 4

Stranger Things season 4 focuses on the murderous exploits of new baddie Vecna (Image credit: Netflix)

That’s certainly a tall order for the Hawkins gang – but not an impossible one. Stranger Things season 4 volume 2 has time on its side; episodes 8 and 9 boast a combined runtime of approximately four hours, which means that, by our amateur calculations, around 125 million more people will need to tune in to – or rewatch – the season finale (you know what to do, Eddie Munson fans). 

Whether Stranger Things season 4 manages the feat or not – for what it’s worth, this writer is betting on the enduring dominance of Squid Game – the success of the latest entry in the Duffer Brothers’ beloved sci-fi series will come as a welcome reprieve for Netflix, which has endured a rocky 2022 amid subscribers losses and mass show cancelations

Season 4’s handsome viewing figures also bode well for Stranger Things season 5, which will mark the show’s last mainline outing. Rumors have suggested that the Stranger Things universe could continue in future feature films and spin-off shows, but no upcoming projects have been confirmed as yet.

Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.