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Nielsen: Netflix Scores Big ‘Cobra Kai’ Season 3 Premiere

Netflix's 'Cobra Kai'
(Image credit: Netflix)

Cobra Kai edged out defending ratings champ Bridgerton as the most watched show on subscription video-on-demand for the week of January 4-10, according to Nielsen.

After a two-week delay sorting out its system for publishing SVOD metrics, and despite failing to produce Super Bowl metrics the day after the big game, Nielsen was back for the second time in three business days, publishing yet another series of rankings. This time, the two Netflix original series, Cobra Kai and Bridgerton, essentially switching places. 

Notably, it was the second consecutive week in which Cobra Kai drew more than 2 million minutes of total viewing.

Also read: Nielsen—’Bridgerton,’ ‘The Office’ and ‘Soul’ Top Revised Streaming Metrics Strategy

Cobra Kai, a comedic spinoff of the Karate Kid film series produced by Sony Pictures Television, and poached from Google over the summer, made its season 3 premiere on Netflix on Jan. 1. For the week of Jan. 4-10, Cobra Kai’s first three seasons, 30 episodes in all, drew 2.1 billion minutes of total U.S. viewing, according to Nielsen, placing it atop the major SVOD rankings, as well as the major SVOD original series rankings. 

Nielsen SVOD original series rankings for Jan. 4-10

(Image credit: Nielsen)

Recasting actors Ralph Macchio and William Zabka in the familiar roles made famous in the 1984 motion-picture classic The Karate Kid, Cobra Kai made its premiere on YouTube Red in 2018, and the pilot alone eventually garnered more than 86 million views on the platform.

But Google’s commitment to subscription streaming waned. 

In April 2019, YouTube rebranded YouTube Red into YouTube Premium, while announcing a shift in its original content strategy. The service cancelled shows including Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television and Sideswiped, but kept the Cobra Kai, posting season 2 of the series on April 24, 2019. 

A month later, YouTube Premium picked up the series for a third season with plans to make it a free-to-watch show. That same year, the service shifted the focus of its remaining subscription video content to unscripted lifestyle shows, and recasted the $11.99-a-month YouTube Premium platform primarily around music. 

Also read: Netflix Poaches YouTube Original Show ‘Cobra Kai’

Netflix announced its acquisition of Cobra Kai in June, with the first two seasons debuting their exclusive run on the platform starting in August. Cobra Kai quickly shot to No. 2 on what was Nielsen's brand new SVOD ranker at the time. 

Netflix already announced the green lighting of season 4, and will be able to exert creative control over a full season of the show for the first time—something Cobra Kai’s hardcore fans might be pleased with, given critically colder receptions for seasons 2 and 3 relative to the “100% fresh” score for season 1 on Rotten Tomatoes

As for Nielsen, this was the second consecutive weekly rankings in which the service not only published its master SVOD rankings, but also separate rankings for original series, acquired series and movies. 

Meanwhile, Nielsen continues to rank only the four biggest SVOD services in the U.S.: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus. 

And once again, this limitation is producing more questions than answers.

Just as HBO Max’s Wonder Woman 1984 was originally left off Nielsen’s SVOD rankings for Christmas week, only to be later inserted at No. 1 in a one-time “addendum”-branded ranking that included HBO, Nielsen’s latest acquired series rankings list notably excludes Peacock and The Office.

The Office, which has a long tail spanning 192 episodes, has routinely topped Nielsen’s combined rankings in recent months, and it was the No. 1 acquired show for the week of Dec. 28 - Jan. 3., garnering 932 million minutes of viewing in the three days before it changed platforms, switching to NBCUniversal’s Peacock on Jan. 1.

Another third-party company conducting research on the streaming video business, Reelgood, published data suggesting that viewership of The Office was even higher on Peacock (33 million active users) vs. Netflix (73 million paid U.S. subscribers). But since Nielsen doesn’t publish data on Peacock, The Office disappeared from its Jan. 4-10 rankings. Procedural drama Criminal Minds led the list, which was entirely dominated by Netflix, with 842 million combined minutes of U.S. streaming

Nielsen SVOD rankings for acquired series Jan. 4-10

(Image credit: Nielsen)

Peacock skirts the line between AVOD and SVOD, offering consumers a choice of free base and premium subscription tiers. It's unclear what the complexities would be in regard to mixing it with the four big SVOD services. 

Meanwhile, Disney-Pixar film Soul continued to be the most watched movie on the four major SVOD services, but it got to No. 1 with less than half of previous week’s total viewing. 

Nielsen SVOD rankings for films Jan. 4-10

(Image credit: Nielsen)