‘Squid Game’ Became First Show in 2021 to Top 3 Billion Minutes Streamed in One Week

In its second full week, the Netflix smash hit joined Nielsen’s rare 3 Billion Club

squid game

If you need more evidence that “Squid Game” was an insane ratings hit, take a look at Nielsen’s streaming rankings for the Week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3.

In that week alone, which was the Korean show’s second full week (and third overall) on Netflix, “Squid Game” was streamed for 3.260 billion minutes. That makes “Squid Game” the only show this year to top 3 billion minutes streamed in one week, and the first since “The Crown” pulled the feat off last fall.

Its first full week on Netflix, “Squid Game” was watched for 1.9 billion minutes, also according to Nielsen.

“Squid Game” is only the sixth offering in the history of Nielsen’s streaming rankings to join what the ratings currency company calls the 3 Billion Club. The others are: “You,” “Tiger King” (2x), “Ozark” (3x), “The Umbrella Academy,” and the previously mentioned “The Crown.” If you just noticed all are Netflix originals, you win a prize.

“Tiger King” and “Ozark,” which both did it several weeks in a row (three for “Ozark,” two for “Tiger King”) in late-March/early-April 2020, can definitely attribute some of their massive success to the start of the coronavirus pandemic, when the U.S. was shut down and we were all looking for things to do. They’re also both really good shows.

“Ozark” had the advantage over “Tiger King” with previous seasons existing to add some bingeable minutes. Those five combined weeks for “Ozark” and “Tiger King” were Nielsen’s five largest-ever-measured streaming-minutes tallies, so you know COVID had at least something to do with it.

Beyond that Top 5, the 3.358 billion minutes “The Crown” bowed to ahead of Thanksgiving Week 2020 is the only other Nielsen weekly performance that outranks the end-of-September/beginning of October “Squid Game” domination. Again, in the case of “The Crown,” there were earlier seasons to catch up on that week as well — and it all counted towards the one total.

In another cool first for the Week of Sept. 27-Oct. 3, all five of the main streaming services currently measured by Nielsen — Apple TV+, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+ — had a show on the Top 10. For Apple, it was “Ted Lasso,” for Amazon, it was “Goliath.” Hulu had “Only Murders in the Building” and Disney+ had “What If…?”.

Cute for those guys, but Netflix owned the entire Top 5 with “Squid Game,” “Midnight Mass,” “Lucifer,” “The Great British Baking Show” and “Sex Education.” It also had “The Circle” in eighth place.

The only thing wilder than Nielsen’s “Squid Game” ratings are Netflix’s. The streaming service itself said that two-thirds of Netflix households sampled the first season within its first four weeks. In other words, 142 million of Nielsen’s 214 million households watched at least two minutes of any “Squid Game” episode within the first 28 days of its availability.

Thus far, Nielsen has measured 17 of those 28 days. So yeah, expect a gargantuan (Nielsen) number to come out next week as well.

Below is Nielsen’s chart for the recently measured week. (It currently takes about a month to tabulate all this data, causing the delay.)