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'Bird Box' movie sparks internet craze

Netflix's "Bird Box," which was streamed by more than 45 million accounts the first week of its release, has inspired a new internet challenge.

Posted: Jan 3, 2019 7:26 PM
Updated: Jan 3, 2019 7:55 PM

It's nothing new for a network to publicize its successes. But when you've flouted TV conventions, as Netflix long has, suddenly crowing about ratings -- as the streaming service did with "Bird Box," the apocalyptic movie starring Sandra Bullock -- has risked opening Pandora's box.

Media watchers have long chafed over Netflix's stubborn refusal to provide user data, insisting that such information was proprietary and irrelevant to its subscription-based business model. As a result, even those who cover Netflix and its media competitors have been left to guess at the reach of individual titles, what constitutes a "hit" by its standards and how that measures up against other more traditional entertainment sources.

Netflix had largely worn down those who have pressed for such answers -- at least, until the service boasted that "Bird Box" was the most-watched movie in its history, tweeting out that "45,037,125 Netflix accounts have already watched Bird Box — best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film!"

That claim, however, merely invited a host of related questions, among them what constituted a view by Netflix's metrics. Not surprisingly, the service appeared reluctant to provide much clarification -- seemingly caught a bit flat-footed in responding to those probing and second-guessing the numbers, given that they were unverified by any third party.

Prying open the "Bird Box" numbers also raises some questions that Netflix would clearly prefer not to deal with at the present time, starting with how its performance compares to other movies that the service has financed.

The company, for example, is in the midst of an aggressive Oscar campaign for "Roma," director Alfonso Cuaron's autobiographical, black-and-white ode to the women who raised him. Would voters like to know whether anybody beyond those on the screener circuit have seen a movie they're being asked to bestow top honors, especially in a year when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board has publicly wrestled with incorporating more popular films into the awards telecast?

For the most part, the press has been compliant in allowing Netflix to remain tight-lipped about how many people watch its offerings, even proclaiming series like "Stranger Things" and "13 Reasons Why" "hits" without much in the way of hard data -- beyond anecdotal evidence and what's cobbled together by outside entities -- to back that up.

At the same time, there has been little explanation when Netflix cancels series, leaving viewers to wonder why certain programs -- such as several of its Marvel shows -- have been dropped.

Those who favor transparency -- and not incidentally, have to make decisions about how much coverage to devote to entertainment -- surely welcome Netflix's flirtation with providing a glimpse into its inner workings, or in this case, a peek beneath its blindfold.

Given the service's track record, though, its Christmas-week break with protocol might wind up being more like Groundhog Day, with Netflix seeing the potential headaches that its claim unleashed before retreating to the comfort, safety and silence of the box that it previously occupied.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 819597

Reported Deaths: 15406
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1147901924
Mobile725791338
Madison52306697
Shelby37597350
Baldwin37245552
Tuscaloosa35101612
Montgomery34106740
Lee23526246
Calhoun22225488
Morgan20941378
Etowah19825500
Marshall18361304
Houston17384412
St. Clair16054339
Cullman15443293
Limestone15343199
Elmore15241286
Lauderdale14302295
Talladega13836283
DeKalb12649261
Walker11202370
Blount10192176
Autauga10043148
Jackson9871184
Coffee9210191
Dale8897185
Colbert8860201
Tallapoosa7084198
Escambia6772134
Covington6712183
Chilton6641162
Russell636659
Franklin5959105
Chambers5607142
Marion5005127
Dallas4973200
Pike4795106
Clarke475584
Geneva4571127
Winston4516103
Lawrence4321117
Bibb425186
Barbour357776
Marengo338090
Monroe331464
Randolph329764
Butler326396
Pickens316284
Henry312666
Hale311388
Cherokee302860
Fayette292880
Washington251551
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234663
Lamar224147
Conecuh186153
Coosa180240
Lowndes175164
Wilcox168839
Bullock151644
Perry138840
Sumter133038
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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