Saeed Adyani/netflix Netflix announced on December 28 that more than 45 million accounts watched its Netflix original horror movie, Bird Box, in seven days, making it a record breaking debut for the streaming service — but considering Netflix rarely specifies what its data means, it was difficult to gauge what that number meant. There are…
Netflix announced on December 28 that more than 45 million accounts watched its Netflix original horror movie,Bird Box,in seven days, making it a record breaking debut for the streaming service — but considering Netflix rarely specifies what its data means, it was difficult to gauge what that number meant.
There are a lot of variables in Netflix’s statement. 45 million accounts doesn’t exactly translate to specific viewer counts, as an account could serve one person or an entire family. It’s also unclear from Netflix’s tweet how many people watched all ofBird Box(starring A-list actors like Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich) or even half of the movie, before switching to something else. Netflix famously doesn’t make its viewership numbers public, making it difficult to determine an accurate viewership number. This is different from Hollywood studios with theatrical releases, whose box office numbers are certified by authoritative box office tracking firms.
Some of that information is beginning to come to light, though. A spokesperson for Netflix tellsThe Vergethat the company only counts an account as having watchedBird Box“once a view surpasses 70 percent of the total running time (including credits).” Furthermore, “each ‘account’ may include multiple views and viewers but is only counted once,” the spokesperson added.
There are still a number of questions Netflix wouldn’t address when asked byThe Verge, including how 45 million account views in seven days compares to the last record holder. It’s also unclear if Netflix’s estimates will match Nielsen’s ratings, which are still seen as the golden standard for accurate ratings. Netflix and Nielsen’s numbers have differed in the past — something that industry reports have bemoaned Netflix for in the past.
“I’m fairly sureBird Boxis a phenomenon of some sort, but without verifiable data or comparative data for context, a Netflix-affiliated Twitter feed coming down from on-high with suspiciously specific (and yet entirely vague) data is the epitome of nonsense,” Daniel Feinberg, a critic at The Hollywood Reporter, tweeted.
Still, Netflix rarely provides insight into how it collects data. Knowing that a view only counts as a view if 70 percent ofBird Boxhas been watched is a little more information than we had previously. A Netflix spokesperson added that specific data collection method is only applicable toBird Box, not the rest of its content.