'Tiger King' Draws 'Stranger Things'-Like Audience for Netflix, Nielsen Says

Netflix's Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness has sunk its claws into pop culture since its March 20 release. Figures from Nielsen back up the notion that the docuseries is seemingly everywhere.

The series averaged almost 19 million viewers in the U.S. over its first 10 days, according to Nielsen's SVOD Content Ratings, and more than 34 million people watched at least a few minutes of it. Those numbers rival one of Netflix's biggest shows, Stranger Things

The 19 million viewer average for Tiger King tops the 17.5 million for season two of Stranger Things over the same period in 2017. Stranger Things' third season averaged 20.5 million viewers over its first 10 days in July 2019. The latter is among the highest Nielsen has recorded for a Netflix show.

Tiger King's "reach" measure of 34.3 million — the number of people who watched at least a few minutes of the show — similarly falls in between the second (31.2 million) and third (36.3 million) seasons of Stranger Things.

Netflix has said Nielsen's numbers don't reflect the true size of a show's audience on the streamer, as they measure only TV viewing (not consumption on other devices) and only viewers in the United States.

Tiger King also brought in more viewers on a near-daily basis over its first 10 days, testifying to the word-of-mouth spread for the wild story of Joe Exotic. It averaged a relatively paltry 280,000 viewers on its premiere day of March 20, then more than doubled to 768,000 on March 21 and increased to 1.32 million the next day.

After a small dip to 1.17 million on March 23, a Monday, the average viewer count rose over each of the next five days, peaking with 4.06 million on Sunday, March 28. It came back down some on March 29 to 3.39 million, but that's still the second-biggest day for the show among the first 10.

The combination of a greater number of viewers being at home due to coronavirus quarantines likely contributed to Tiger King's growth over its first full week. The show also had a huge social media presence, which in turn likely fed curiosity and eventually viewing.