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The Nielsen Streaming Charts For The Mandalorian - Week 4

It’s time again for yet another look at the Nielsen streaming charts. How does The Mandalorian fare with its fourth season 3 episode? Pretty well! While the absolute number, 795 million minutes, may seem pretty low (last week was more than 1.1 billion minutes) episode 4 which was added to the charts is also the shortest season 3 episode clocking in at just over 30 minutes of running time. This is good enough for #5 on the general streaming charts and #3 on the original series charts. So how does this compare to season 2 and other Star Wars shows? Also, I attempt to arrive at an estimate for the actual viewership numbers in the US and worldwide by using dark science, but no cloning! Click through to find out more!

Episode 4 featured an Order 66 flashback with Ahmed Best as a Jedi

With all the usual caveats in mind (please refer to previous articles for that, I trust that most readers will know by now how difficult it is to compare different shows and different seasons using “viewing minutes” as a metric) let’s dive right in!

Episode 4 was just 30:39 minutes long, including the “previously on” segment and the credits. And it was about saving Ragnar, the son of Paz Vizsla, from a kaiju dino space bird who ate the teen. But it also featured an Order 66 flashback that made some waves, because it featured Ahmed Best as a Jedi. If we assume everyone watched the entire episode from the very beginning all the way through to the end how do the 795 million minutes compare?

The Mandalorian season 3, episode 4, 30:39 minutes, 795 million minutes = 25.93 million “people”
The Mandalorian season 2, episode 4, 37:05 minutes, 939 million minutes = 25.32 million
The Book of Boba Fett season 1, episode 4, 47:05 minutes, 580 million minutes = 12.32 million
Obi-Wan Kenobi season 1, week 4, 40:11 minutes, 682 million minutes = 16.97 million
Andor season 1, week 4, 50:37 minutes, 405 million minutes = 8 million

Average season 3 rating for The Mandalorian: 23.34 million “people”
Average season 2 rating for The Mandalorian: 24.51 million “people”

So what can we say? Well, it seems all those alleged leaks on YouTube about how the ratings for season 3 tanked are highly inaccurate (thus far). Yes, there was a downward trend for season 3 with episode 3 shy of just 20 million “people”, but as you can see here episode 4 is back to almost 26 million people, which is only slightly worse than the season 3 premiere and on the same level as season 2, even somewhat better. Of course this also means that despite adding some 10 million people to the Disney+ subscriber base since The Mandalorian season 2 aired this does not translate at all to higher ratings for the series. In fact, average ratings for The Mandalorian are down by about 4.8%. Not much, ratings are pretty stable, but they are also not any higher despite 10 million more people subscribed in the US and Canada since late 2020.
This once again indictates that all the Star Wars fans signed up very early to the service and that Disney+ has apparently reached all the fans willing to sign up for Disney+ just for Star Wars pretty early on, about a year or so after it was launched. Which implies there are people subscribed to Disney+ who do not want to watch any Star Wars or Marvel content. These people have no flagship shows on Disney+ really. Netlix does have a more diverse line-up of shows and movies.

What you can also see here is how Obi-Wan Kenobi kept losing viewers as the season progressed, the previous episode had almost 19 million “people”, which is down to 17 million with episode 5, remember that Kenobi aired two episodes as the premiere. But overall Obi-Wan Kenobi’s ratings were pretty solid. The Book of Boba Fett, with its last episode before it transformed into The Mandalorian for two episodes, reached not even half of the The Mandalorian audience. But ratings for the series improved with the following episodes that featured Luke Skywalker, Grogu and Din Djarin.

Andor is, and I covered this in the Andor Nielsen charts articles for the series in more detail, by far the least watched Star Wars live action series, but the ratings were pretty stable at this point with about 8 million “people”, about the same as in the week before. But this is only about 30% of The Mandalorian’s ratings, both season 2 and 3. Andor is niche. Very much so.

So The Mandalorian is still the most popular Disney+ show. And despite rumors to the contrary season 3 ratings are, all in all, about on the same level as season 2 ratings, 4.8% worse on average, which is a decline, yes, but not a dramatic loss of viewers.

Season 3 episode 1 had a better rating, episode 4 has a slightly better rating, episodes 2 and 3 had worse ratings than season 2’s respective entries. But this is the halfway point of the season and the Lizzo/Jack Black episode is still coming up. So we have to see how ratings will develop. It will also be interesting to see how the two part finale will compare to the Luke Skywalker finale of season 2. But as of week 4, episode 4, seasons 2 and 3 of The Mandalorian perform about the same, with some fluctuations here and there which is always to be expected. But my guess is that overall season 2 will have the edge over season 3 because that Luke Skywalker finale was huge. But we will see.

What else? As usual Disney is underrepresented on the charts, indicating that all the people subscribed who are not Star Wars or Marvel fans have no current shows they want to watch, Disney+, thus  far, is a two trick pony: it’s Star Wars and Marvel. And the occasional Pixar movie. And then nothing. Bluey (not a Disney series, they merely acquired it) remains immensely popular, it’s #7 on the general charts and #4 on the original series charts.

Moana is still the only Disney movie on the movie charts, as usual Netflix rules here. Their #1 movie has more than twice as many viewing minutes than Moana. But Netflix only has some 38% more subscribers in the US and Canada than Disney+.

Netflix’ #1 original series, The Night Agent, has about 3.3 times as many viewing minutes as The Mandalorian season 3 with half the number of episodes. But of course Netflix has a different release strategy, dumping all episodes at once, giving new shows a huge boost. Disney shows tend to stay on the charts longer because of the weekly release schedule, whereas most Netflix shows drop out of the charts a few short weeks after release, when everyone has binge watched a new season.

So that’s it for this week. The basic takeaway is that reports of The Mandalorian’s massively declining ratings are, as far as we can tell, very wrong. Yes, overall ratings are slightly worse than in season 2, despite 10 million more subscribers in the US and this should give Disney reason for some slight concern, but the fanbase that does exist seems to stick with the series. A (not even) 5% decline is hardly noteworthy. But again, we have to see how the second half of the season will perform.

Also, another metric, one I do not really cover here, is audience reception. Just because people watch your show and stick with it does not mean it’s as popular as before. Season 3’s IMDB episode ratings are worse than season 2’s ratings. This is also reason for some concern at least. But overall The Mandalorian is the most popular thing on Disney+ with a large fanbase. And always remember, the Nielsen numbers only include tvs, only North America (without Mexico) and actual viewership will be substantially higher than the numbers indicate. How high… only Disney knows and they will never reveal those numbers.

But let me try to make an educated guess!

One statistics I found (for the US) says that roughly 80% of all people watch streaming content on tvs. Since Netflix only tracks tvs this means they only track about 80% of the viewership, with the other 20% using other devices like pcs or phones.
Furthermore the US / Canada account for roughly 50% of the total Star Wars market (we know this from merchandise sales and movie box office), if we use that number for worldwide viewership a very rough estimate is that about 32.5 million people watch The Mandalorian in the US and Canada (about 70% of the Disney+ subscriber base in the US and Canada) and 65 million people worldwide (roughly 45% of the global subscriber base, India is a huge market for Disney+ but they have very little interest in Star Wars). The real number of people watching the series should at least be in that ballpark.

And to put things in perspective the total US/Canada viewership for The Mandalorian is higher than for your average Monday Night Football game, of course The Mandalorian accumulates views over a 7 day period and is not a life event and a tv/streaming show cannot really be compared to a sports event. The most watched tv episode of all time in the US is the M.A.S.H. series finale broadcast in 1983 with 105 million people (the who shot JR Dallas episode also originally broadcast in the early 1980s also had a lot of people tuning in). But those days are long gone, a much more fragmented entertainment landscape in the 21st century makes these numbers virtually impossible. There are no real watercooler shows anymore where everyone watched the same thing. A typical prime time network tv show these days usually wins the time slot with about 6-7 million viewers. And The Mandalorian reaches maybe 9% of the population in the US and Canada. The M.A.S.H. finale reached about 45% of the total US population in 1983. And the demo share was 77%. Numbers even the most popular modern series can only dream about.

And finally: Picard dropped out of the charts again, but let’s see if the season (and series) finale will enter the charts. We will know more in four weeks from now.

The Nielsen Streaming Charts


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