UPDATED: Sacha Baron Cohen’s controversial comedy “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” drew “tens of millions” of viewers on Amazon Prime Video globally over its opening weekend, the company said, declining to be more specific.
An estimate by TV analytics provider Samba TV put the buzzy movie’s estimated U.S. viewership at 1.6 million households over its opening weekend on smart TVs. An Amazon spokeswoman said the Samba TV figure is incorrect but she declined to provide the internet giant’s own internal viewing numbers for “Borat.”
The estimated 1.6 million U.S. households that streamed the “Borat” sequel on Amazon Prime Video during its opening weekend (Thursday, Oct. 22, through Sunday, Oct. 25) topped Disney Plus’ premiere of “Mulan,” which registered 1.12 million household streams over Labor Day weekend, Samba TV estimated. Of course, that’s not an apples-to-apples comparison: “Borat” is included with Prime Video, while Disney charged $30 a pop for early access to the live-action “Mulan.”
Amazon is famously tight-fisted with data: The ecommerce company doesn’t even disclose exactly how many Prime members it has. Amazon most recently disclosed in January 2020 that it had topped 150 million Prime customers worldwide.
According to Amazon, within the first few hours of the “Borat” watch party last Thursday night, more than 1 million fans tuned in to interact in a live Q&A with Baron Cohen’s Borat and participate in a worldwide dance party.
“Sacha has masterfully created one of the most well-received films of these unprecedented times — showcasing some of the best and the worst of us, wrapped in one outrageous moment after another,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “With the tremendous launch of this global, tentpole movie, it’s clear our customers around the world want content that is both relevant and entertaining.”
In the film, which marks the directorial debut of Jason Woliner, Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev (Baron Cohen) returns to the U.S. in a bid to redeem his homeland after besmirching the country’s reputation in 2006 documentary “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”
Amazon’s decision to release the movie a day earlier than planned — on the same day of the final presidential debate — didn’t seem to give “Borat” much of a boost: Just 45,000 households streamed the movie on Oct. 22, compared with 24.0 million households that watched the final Trump-Biden debate live, per Samba data.
As with any data research, there are caveats. Samba TV’s estimates are extrapolations, based on a panel of approximately 3.4 million U.S. households. In addition, like Nielsen, the company tracks only viewership on internet-connected TVs — it doesn’t measure views on mobile devices or web browsers. Samba’s methodology qualifies viewership as having watched at least 5 cumulative minutes of a broadcast or video stream and projects viewership to the U.S. population average.
Samba TV gathers viewership data via a proprietary automatic content recognition (ACR) technology on opted-in smart TVs, which tracks viewing by “listening” for which content is being watched on the TVs.
Bearing those caveats in mind, here are some additional data points Samba TV found for “Borat”: Nearly half of the households (48%) that watched the movie did so on Friday night (Oct. 23). Households with males and consumers aged 25-44 overindexed on streaming “Borat” (+4% over baseline) and Asian households overindexed more than any other ethnic group (+13%), per Samba TV.