What happened

Shares of streaming giant Netflix (NFLX -0.83%) closed Monday's trading session up 3.2%, decisively outperforming the major U.S. indexes, which declined.

Its gains may have had something to do with Friday's release of Nielsen's ratings for streaming services for the week of Oct. 10, which showed The Watcher in the top spot and other Netflix shows giving it a total of seven slots in the top 10.

So what

The Watcher, a seven-episode series about a suburban family that is stalked by an unknown person or group, garnered 2.36 billion minutes of viewing in the week of Oct. 10 through Oct. 16. Netflix's Dahmer, a biopic series about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, was previously No. 1, but slipped to No. 3 behind Amazon Prime Video's Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power. However, Netflix remains the dominant streaming force.

The positive viewership news gave an added boost to Netflix, which delivered better-than-expected third-quarter results last month. And the company's new ad-supported tier, which costs just $6.99 a month, became available on Nov. 3.

The combination of factors is likely leading some to conclude Netflix's growth hiatus may be behind it. The streaming giant can also add new subscribers among cash-strapped consumers while profiting incrementally via digital ad sales.

Now what

Netflix is certainly an interesting stock these days. The streaming sector has been in the doldrums as companies pull back on digital ad spending due to recessionary fears, and some cash-strapped consumers are dropping streaming services as their budgets get tighter amid rising interest rates. The abrupt loss of growth momentum is what caused Netflix's management to change its long-time ad-free strategy and roll out its lower-cost ad-supported tier.

Yet while the streaming sector is in for difficult times, Netflix could take advantage. Some of its media company peers have much higher debt burdens, and must play catch-up in the streaming game while also attempting to maintain their positions in a linear TV world that is in decline. 

That's a tough set of goals to straddle in a soft economic environment, and it could allow the relatively stronger Netflix to push back against its competitors in the streaming space. However, how successful it will be will depend on whether or not Netflix can keep cranking out hits and maintain its place as the first choice for streaming among most consumers. Last Friday's streaming ratings report was another indication that it continues to execute on that front.