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Netflix says over 45 million accounts watched ‘Bird Box,’ but that’s not the whole story

Published Dec 31st, 2018 7:08PM EST
Netflix Bird Box
Image: Merrick Morton/Netflix

Netflix a few days ago made available to its subscribers a brand new movie of the horror variety. Starring Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich, Bird Box has quite an interesting plot, one that rivals A Quiet Place from earlier this year. If in the latter you could not make any sounds, for fear of drawing monsters to your location, in Bird Box you’re not allowed to open your eyes while you’re out of your house.

The punishment is ruthless, and very immediate: death by suicide. If you haven’t streamed it, you totally should, because the film is very well made, with Bullock and her supporting cast carrying it brilliantly. And, according to Netflix, the movie is quite popular with its subscribers, as some 45 million accounts streamed it within the first seven days. However, that sort of statistic is mostly meaningless, because it’s coming from Netflix.

Netflix posted the number over on its Twitter account, without revealing additional details:

Netflix is notoriously secretive about viewership data, and it’s unclear what the number means. For example, box office numbers are accurate, because they measure ticket sales. But Netflix accounts can be shared with multiple people, so the actual number of people who watched Bird Box may be even higher than that.

But did everyone who started it watch the film through to the very end? That’s another thing that Netflix doesn’t tell us, but this time around the company told The Verge that it only counted an account having watched Bird Box “once a view surpasses 70 percent of the total running time (including credits).” The company also made it clear that each account is only counted once, even though it may include multiple views.

Weirdly enough, the same counting logic isn’t applied to other titles. In other words, Netflix only applied the 70-percent-counts-as-one-view trick for Bird Box.

We’ll point out that Netflix has over 137 million subscribers internationally, including 58 million in the US and 79 million everywhere else. The company released Bird Box worldwide, so about one in three Netflix accounts streamed the movie. The film’s trailer has over 10 million views on YouTube, and that’s counting only the views of the official Netflix channel. Watch it below if you want a sneak peek at Bird Box:

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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