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‘Bird Box’ Has Been Watched by 80 Million Subscribers, Netflix Says

Netflix used its Q4 2018 earnings report Thursday to give us a rare update on some of its audience numbers: The company estimates that its horror-thriller “Bird Box” will be viewed by over 80 million member households in the first four weeks following its release.

“We are seeing high repeat viewing,” company executives wrote in their letter to shareholders. “Bird Box” was first released on Netflix on Dec. 21, which means that the four-week mark is coming up this weekend.

The streaming giant long resisted the industry practice of releasing ratings for its movies and TV shows, but the company recently began to selectively highlight some success stories. In late December, Netflix claimed that over 45 million accounts had already watched “Bird Box” within the first few days after its release — a claim that was later backed up by Nielsen’s own audience measurement numbers.

The company used Thursday’s earnings report to selectively release a few other highlights as well. “Elite,” one of the company’s Spanish original shows, has been viewed by more than 20 million member households during the four weeks following its release; the stalker drama “You” is on track to attract 40 million viewers within four weeks; and “Sex Education,” which debuted on Netflix a week ago, is also expected to top 40 million viewers within four weeks.

The streaming service also called out a number of additional titles from around the globe for their success on the service: “Bodyguard,” which it co-produced with the BBC; the Italian series “Baby”; and the company’s first Turkish original “The Protector” all attracted more than 10 million viewers during their first four weeks on the service. “Great stories transcend borders,” company executives said in their letter to investors.

Netflix also shared some insights on how it arrived at these metrics: It only counts viewers if they at least finish 70% of an episode of a TV show or a movie, respectively. And the company added another new data point, claiming that it is now responsible for about 10% of all TV hours in the U.S. — a number that it apparently arrived at with some back-of-the-envelope math:

CREDIT: Courtesy of Netflix

These metrics were clearly meant to assure investors that Netflix’s originals strategy is working. “As a result of our success with original content, we’re becoming less focused on 2nd run programming,” company executives said in their letter to investors. “We are ready to pay top-of-market prices for second run content when the studios, networks and producers are willing to sell, but we are also prepared to keep our members ecstatic with our incredible original content if others choose to retain their content for their own services.”

In other words: Netflix is releasing these metrics as a way to show the world that it doesn’t need content from Disney, NBC, and others just as those companies get ready to launch their own streaming services.

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