Note: This post contains spoilers for Bird Box.
In that odd, grayish limbo which is the downtime between Christmas and New Year’s, you’ve probably been bored and entertained yourself by thinking that you really should have told Uncle Frank to stuff his MAGA hat up his stupid ass at Christmas dinner. You also probably watched Netflix original movie Bird Box aka A Quiet Place But With Eyes. And even if you didn’t, a whole shitload of people did. According to CNN, Netflix is reporting that more than 45 million Netflix accounts have viewed it so far. The streaming service is also claiming that the movie had the best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film. (This might also make it the most-watched original movie in Netflix’s history.) But hold please, cause there’s a catch.
Netflix tweeted this yesterday:
Took off my blindfold this morning to discover that 45,037,125 Netflix accounts have already watched Bird Box — best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film! pic.twitter.com/uorU3cSzHR
— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) December 28, 2018
For those of you
who don’t care not in the know, Bird Box stars Sandra Bullock as a post-apocalyptic mom trying to keep her kids safe from some ill-defined creatures which have killed most of the planet. Please note that the first sign that you’re post-apcalyptic is apparently being unable to secure eyebrow tweezers. The schtick is that you can stay alive by not looking at the evil beasties. So everyone wears blindfolds. And apparently it’s possible to go whitewater rafting blindfolded. For 42 hours. Yeah, we’ll get to the huge amount of memes in a mo.
The catch with that 45 million number is that Netflix is usually notoriously quiet about their ratings. And folks in the biz are questioning how they determined that number and why they’re sharing this info. The streaming service has never been open about their business like that. (That’s how its competitors Hulu and Amazon operate, too.) The industry word is that Netflix usually wants to make like they’re above such paltry concerns as ratings.
It would be difficult, for example, to say what the activity of 45 million accounts equates to in traditional box office terms. It’s also unclear — though presumable — that the number reflects accounts that have accessed the film globally. (Netflix is currently available in more than 190 countries.)
And what do they count as a “viewing“?
Exactly how Netflix qualifies what counts as a viewing is another question. Does the figure account for those who accidentally play the film from an auto-play option? Does it log “viewers” who only watch a few seconds or the entire film?
Inquiring minds! Another issue with Netflix’s proclamation is that there was no third party source involved who can back those numbers up for them.
What CAN be proven is that Bird Box’s slightly ridiculous premise has inspired some lovely memes. The Internet sometimes gives as much as it takes away. (Although, there IS a meme conspiracy theory that Netflix is responsible for some of them. If so, well played, streaming service overlords.)