We are approaching the end of the week, which means Nielsen update their weekly streaming charts! As usual with a four week delay, so the ratings released today are actually for The Mandalorian episode 3, which was all about Doc Pershing eating biscuits and space popsicles, oh, and getting his mind fried! So how did The Mandalorian season 3 do with its third episode? Well, it has climbed to number 3 on the general streaming and original series charts with 1,115 million minutes viewed! This is the highest number for season 3 yet, but as usual the devil lies in the detail, because Nielsen’s streaming charts depend very much on things like episode length, number of episodes available, but most important is always the length of the current episode, and episode 3 happens to be, thus far, the longest season 3 episode by quite some margin. So what does that mean for the ratings? Also, for the first time ever Star Trek makes an appearance on the charts! What happened here? Click through for a closer look!
Let’s get the usual caveats out of the way first, shall we?
The raw numbers reported by Nielsen make comparing different shows or even different seasons very difficult. Raw viewing numbers provide us with a very broad idea about popularity, but don’t tell us how many people actually watched something. Viewing minutes are heavily impacted by episode length, total number of episodes and even release date. Mandalorian season 2 was always released on a Friday, season 3 on Wednesdays, which means current season 3 episodes have two more days per week which can impact ratings. I.e. in season 2 the episode from the previous week had more of an impact on the current week than in season 3 where new episodes release on Wednesdays.
Furthermore Nielsen only provide an incomplete picture, they only analyze tvs and people using computers or mobile devices are ignored.
So what I do is I divide viewing numbers by episode length to arrive at a metric that is definitely not the number of people who really watched something, but it is a metric that allows us, to a certain degree, to compare different shows, different episodes and different seasons.
With all of that out of the way let’s look at the numbers and how they compare!
The Mandalorian season 3, episode 3, length 56:11, 1,115 million minutes = 19.85 million “people”
The Mandalorian season 2, episode 3, length 33:02, 873 million minutes = 26.42 million
The Book of Boba Fett season 1, episode 3, length 37:16, 467 million minutes = 12.53 million
Obi-Wan Kenobi season 1, week 3 (episode 4), length 36:20, 682 million minutes = 18.77 million
Andor season 1, week 3 (episode 5), length 43:10, 356 million minutes = 8.25 million
As usual, the metric is hypothetical “people”, if everyone only watched the current episode and watched it from the “previously on” segment right until the credits end. Which few will do. But again, it’s the best we have to compare different episodes and shows.
So what can we say?
Even though the raw numbers for season 3 episode 3 of The Mandalorian look pretty good, 1.11 billion minutes, if you account for episode length it’s much less impressive.
In fact, using my metric we can say with some authority that The Mandalorian season 3 keeps shedding viewers. Last week we had 20.96 million “people”, the season premiere had even 26.62 million. That means numbers are down 5.3% from previous week and 25.43% from the season premiere, in short: by episode 3 roughly 1/4 of all people who watched the season premiere already checked out.
And if we compare the current episode to season 2, the numbers are down by 24.86%, once again, about 1/4.
Now this is usually nothing too unusual, it is common for shows to have the highest ratings for the season premiere, only to lose viewers and to get better ratings for the season finale. But on streaming we have somewhat different rules. And if we look back at season 2 of The Mandalorian we see that season 2 gained viewers with each episode, episode 2 had better ratings than the season premiere and episode 3 had even better numbers than episode 2. We observe the opposite trend for season 3.
Now the numbers are still good, but there are clear signs The Mandalorian may have lost some of its luster with the current season. And as always: you have to remember that Disney+ in 2023 has about 10 million more subscribers in the US and Canada than in late 2020 when season 2 was released. But despite a potential user base that is 10 million stronger the viewership is down, not up. That points to the distinct possibility that all the Star Wars fans signed up for Disney+ pretty early and and that since then Disney has failed to convince more people to watch the show.
Now of course the Nielsen numbers are very incomplete. Worldwide viewership will be at least double the US numbers. Add all the people who use computers or use their phone to stream to their tv etc and the total number of people watching will undoubtedly be a lot higher than roughly 20 million. Still, the Nielsen charts will certainly be representative of overall trends.
What else can we say?
As both Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett progressed both shows lost viewers. But you can also see how massively popular Obi-Wan is, since the numbers for his show are about as good as for The Mandalorian season 3. What you can also see how low the ratings for Andor are. Now Tony Gilroy said back then that Lucasfilm is happy with the reception of the series and the numbers, but I find it difficult to really believe that. Andor, even though I think it is the best Star Wars Disney+ series, merely got 40% of the numbers The Mandalorian or even Obi-Wan Kenobi had.
Things will get really interesting next week though when we will see how people reacted to episode 3. Remember, episode 2 (where Din Djarin goes to Mandalore to take a bath) proved to be one of the more popular season 3 episodes and was generally well received. Episode 3 much less so.
What else… Disney keeps getting destroyed by Netflix. While The Mandalorian is #3 on the general and original series streaming charts and Bluey (not a Disney show) remains immensely popular with 749 million minutes which is good for #3 on the acquired series charts, these are also the only entries on any of the two series charts. And the movie charts don’t look all that much better. Old animated movies, Moana and Encanto, are in the lower regions of the charts with pretty low numbers. The Netflix top entry, the Luther movie, has four times as many viewing minutes. But Netflix only has roughly 1.6 times as many subscribers as Disney+ in the US and Canada. In short: Disney is woefully underrepresented on the charts and underperforms compared to other streaming services.
Also, for the first time ever (drumroll please) a current Star Trek series enters the top 10 original series charts! Picard season 3 is in 9th place with 310 million minutes! This is for the week featuring episodes 4 and 5 of Picard. And it translates to roughly 5.44 million “people”, a far cry from what Star Wars gets on Disney+. But no other Kurtzman / Secret Hideout Star Trek show has managed that feat before. Season 3 of Picard mostly ignores what atrocities happened in the first two seasons and is a proper reunion of the entire The Next Generation series cast, and almost everyone else who was a series regular in the first two seasons of Picard was fired. To the surprise of no one fans apparently appreciate it if you provide them with fan service!
Maybe the people in charge can learn from that!
And that’s it for this week! Let’s reconvene next week when the ratings for The Mandalorian episode 4 will tell us how people reacted to the Doc Pershing episode! So far the Nielsen numbers are actually in line with what alleged “sources” inside Lucasfilm are saying. And if said “rumors” are accurate The Mandalorian will be in a world of hurt when it comes to ratings in the next few weeks. But as usual: those are just rumors and they could be very untrue. Nielsen will reveal how things really are in the coming weeks!
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