With their usual 4 week delay Nielsen have finally added the first season 3 episode of The Mandalorian to their weekly streaming charts! And the series enters the charts in 5th place on the general charts and in 3rd place on the original series streaming charts with 823 million minutes.
How does that compare to previous Star Wars series and The Mandalorian seasons? Contrary to other reports out there The Mandalorian season 3 actually added viewers compared to the season 2 premiere! Click through for the details!
Disclaimer: an earlier version of this article failed to take into account the very different runtimes for the season 2 and season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian! Something that drastically changes the ratings for season 3! I have corrected it in this new version!
After a string of flops or less popular shows for Disney, Willow never made it onto the charts and was cancelled, The Bad Batch also failed to ever register and with Andor reaching 50% of the audience of shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi or The Book of Boba Fett, and even dropping out of the charts for a short while, The Mandalorian is, as expected, the most popular series on Disney+.
But how do the 823 million minutes reported by Nielsen compare?
This is the lowest recorded rating for The Mandalorian yet, unfortunately Nielsen has no numbers for season 1, their service started later, but compared to season 2 the first episode of season 3 has 20% lower ratings than the season 2 premiere, 1,032 million minutes were reported for it, and it even has lower ratings than any season 2 episode. The lowest rating for season 2 was 873 million minutes in the first half of the season. The Luke Skywalker season 2 finale had a rating of 1,336 million minutes in comparison.
It’s also lower than what the Obi-Wan Kenobi premiere had, however, two episodes were released for Obi-Wan Kenobi on the same day making the numbers difficult to compare, since running time will of course affect the statistics, i.e. the shorter the episode the less likely it is to accumulate extremely high viewing minutes. Still, viewership is down by 20% here too, since Obi-Wan Kenobi entered the charts with 1,026 million minutes. Obi-Wan Kenobi lost a lot of viewers with following episodes though, and The Mandalorian season 3 premiere has just slightly worse ratings than the Obi-Wan Kenobi finale, which had 860 million minutes. For the record, The Book of Boba Fett had 885 million minutes for its finale.
The Mandalorian season 3 premiere does outperform The Book of Boba Fett, only the finale of that series had better ratings and it also vastly outperforms Andor or shows like The Bad Batch of course.
But as mentioned there is one thing that has to be taken into account, episode runtime: The way Nielsen streaming charts work episode runtime (and the number of episodes available) do have a huge impact on viewing numbers, if the same number of people watch a 25 minute sitcom and a 2 hour movie the movie will have much higher numbers, but in reality it reached the same number of people, so the actual ratings are identical.
Of course it is next to impossible to determine the number of people who watched something on streaming, only Disney has these numbers and they keep them top secret. However, we can always perform a naive calculation and merely divide viewing minutes by runtime to estimate the number of people who watched something. This method implies that every person watched the full episode and ONLY that episode and none of the older episodes and didn’t tune out, which will not be the case. But still, it’s the best method we have to compare episodes with different runtimes!
The Mandalorian season 2 premiere: 46:36 minutes, 1,032 million minutes = 22.15 million people
The Mandalorian season 3 premiere: 30:55 minutes, 823 million minutes = 26.62 million people
Obi-Wan Kenobi season 1 premiere: 90 minutes, 1,026 million minutes = 11.40 million people
The Book of Boba Fett season 1 premiere: 37:40 minutes, 389 million minutes = 10.33 million
Andor season 1 premiere: 115:05 minutes, 624 million minutes = 5.42 million people
So what does it all mean? Well, it’s not wrong to report that The Mandalorian season 3 has the lowest The Mandalorian ratings yet. HOWEVER, if you take episode runtime into account then viewership compared to the season 2 premiere is actually up by 20%, not down by 20%! In fact, no other Star Wars series comes even close to The Mandalorian, with Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett not even reaching half the audience, and Andor trailing all other live action series by a considerable margin, not even getting 25% of what The Mandalorian has and roughly 50% of the numbers that Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett had.
Another factor that impacts ratings on streaming services is subscriber count: Disney+ gained roughly 10 million subscribers in the US and Canada between The Mandalorian season 2 and 3, so some higher numbers are to be expected, simply because more people can now watch the series.
Yet another thing to consider is that the season 2 premiere was released on a Friday, whereas the season 3 premiere was released on a Wednesday. Which works in favor of season 3 as there was more time for people to watch in the first week. So determining the exact number of people who watched something is further complicated, of course viewership will usually rapidly decline a few days after release, with many probably watching things on weekends, so I still think the two extra days season 3 had (Wednesday and Thursday) won’t make that much of a difference here, since maybe not too many people have time in the middle of the week to watch all of their favorite shows.
Reports on YouTube or elsewhere about viewership for The Mandalorian that has virtually halved or that the show has lost viewers are certainly not correct. Not as far as the season 3 premiere is concerned.
That being said the method I used here is pretty crude, it does not take into account how many people may have watched older episodes, now the vast majority will have watched the new episode, but still, it’s something to consider. And of course not everyone will have watched the entire episode in one sitting. And it does not account for people watching the episode multiple times. So the numbers provided here are a rough estimate. Only Disney will know the exact numbers.
And as usual it has to be noted that Nielsen excludes devices like computers or smartphones, they don’t track users who watch something on their laptop or home pc. It’s always possible that viewing habits may have shifted to some degree.
The most popular original series on the charts is Outer Banks from Netflix with 2,214 million minutes (and 30 episodes in total), this also makes it the most popular streaming content on the general charts. HBO’s The Last of Us, that other Pedro Pascal series, outperforms The Mandalorian by quite some margin with 1,011 million minutes (and longer episode runtime, keep that in mind). As expected Netflix rules the movie charts. Most popular Disney movie is Wakanda Forever in 6th place where it barely outperforms Moana, the only other Disney movie on the charts.
And Bluey, an acquired series on Disney+, remains to be popular, with 736 million minutes its ratings are not far behind The Mandalorian.
It also has to be noted that Nielsen’s numbers are in stark contrast to Samba TV who reported viewership for The Mandalorian season 3 is down. However Nielsen tracks the series throughout the entire week, i.e. the numbers they report are for the entire week and even though Nielsen’s numbers are also far from perfect they are still considered the industry standard.
And my apologies to anyone who read the first version of the article, I reread the article once it was posted to the front page and suddenly realized my huge mistake of not taking episode runtime into account when I compared ratings, something you MUST do for streaming shows and with how ratings for streaming content is reported by Nielsen!
Source: The Nielsen Streaming Charts
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