Given how many people were talking about The Mandalorian's baffling Season 2 finale after it was released, one might have thought that Jon Favreau's Star Wars TV show was the most popular streaming series out there. It's certainly ONE of the most-watched shows out there right now, but it turns out more people are choosing to watch a show with characters who aren't decked out in near-indestructible armor. In particular, they're watching the Virgin River characters played by Alexandra Breckenridge and Martin Henderson.
According to the latest ratings report from Nielsen, which tracked minutes viewed via streaming for the week of November 23-29, Netflix's Virgin River adaptation (based on Robyn Carr's novel series) managed to top The Mandalorian by fairly noteworthy margin. Virgin River was streamed by viewers for roughly 1.295 billion minutes during the weak measured, which is massive in any context, regardless of Jedi quasi-rivals. Comparatively, Nielsen reported that episodes of The Mandalorian were watched for around 1.210 billion minutes during that same time span, which is obviously also extremely impressive.
One you hit the billions, it might not seem like there's a huge different between 1.29 and 1.21, but that means viewers watched over 80 million more minutes of Virgin River than The Mandalorian, which is obviously huge. While there are certain reasons why this is the case, it's still somewhat shocking in a sense that the first Star Wars TV show's second season is getting crushed by a romantic drama that doesn't have nearly the same kind of name recognition with general audiences. Just imagine if Boba Fett had shown up on Virgin River for that wild cliffhanger.
Now, while this is a pretty huge win for Virgin River without any context, there are some easy-to-calculate reasons why The Mandalorian didn't match up with the rom-dram's numbers. For one, Disney+ had only aired five of The Mandalorian's eight episodes at the time when those Nielsen stats were being tracked, while all ten episodes of Virgin River's second season released that week, so viewers had more new eps to binge. Second, even though Virgin River didn't drop new episodes until November 27, Netflix likely had plenty of fans rewatching Season 1 episodes earlier that week in anticipation for Season 2, helping to boost those stats.
Another likely key factor at play here is that Virgin River has more episodes than The Mandalorian, with most being the same length or longer than the average Star Wars eps. So there's just flat out more to watch on the whole. And for as rewatchable as The Mandalorian's sequences can be, it still can't properly keep up.
Now, for all that we're focusing on this romance vs. sci-fi adventure match-up, neither Virgin River (#3) nor The Mandalorian (#4) managed to top Nielsen's streaming ratings list for that week. In second place was Netflix's Kurt Russell-starring feature Christmas Chronicles 2, which was watched for 1.518 billion minutes, topping both of the aforementioned shows by 300 million minutes. On top of everything, though, was The Crown, which recently debuted Season 4. Viewers watched The Crown for a whopping 2.215 billion minutes, which is a full billion minutes more than Mandalorian. People do love juicy royals drama, even if it's not depicted exactly as it occurred in real life.
Virgin River's first two seasons are both available to stream in full on Netflix, while the first two seasons of The Mandalorian can be found on Disney+. Fans are already waiting on third seasons from both, though Star Wars fans lucked out in this sense in that Mando's action-adventure has already inspired three different spinoffs, which will include The Book of Boba Fett. The spinoff-ball is in your court, Netflix. While waiting to hear more about both projects, head to our Winter and Spring 2021 TV premiere schedule to see what other shows are popping up soon.