'Bird Box' boast could open Pandora's box for Netflix

It's nothing new for a network to publicize its successes. But when you've flouted TV conventions, as Netfli...

Posted: Jan 3, 2019 3:29 PM
Updated: Jan 3, 2019 3:29 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.

Broadcasting industry

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Companies

Digital and streaming video

Internet and WWW

Internet broadcasting

Media industry

Movie and video industry

Netflix Incorporated

Pandora Media Inc

Streaming media

Technology

Animals

Arts and entertainment

Birds

Life forms

Movies

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: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847659

Reported Deaths: 16172
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163752005
Mobile743371381
Madison53434738
Shelby38413371
Baldwin38171589
Tuscaloosa36131643
Montgomery34571782
Lee25664264
Calhoun22622519
Morgan22527408
Etowah20059520
Marshall18821318
Houston17769426
St. Clair16946359
Limestone16192220
Cullman16140305
Elmore15948295
Lauderdale15055307
Talladega14244302
DeKalb13061271
Walker12138380
Blount10765193
Autauga10545157
Jackson10204195
Coffee9435192
Colbert9363210
Dale9038192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell710165
Chilton7078170
Covington6967197
Escambia6962144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5795142
Marion5435130
Dallas5302210
Pike5128109
Clarke485686
Lawrence4845130
Winston4785110
Geneva4650136
Bibb435495
Barbour370180
Butler3444101
Marengo342793
Monroe338366
Randolph337767
Pickens334790
Fayette331485
Henry321066
Cherokee319964
Hale318889
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252069
Macon245767
Conecuh193562
Coosa185847
Wilcox178338
Lowndes178268
Bullock152745
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130345
Choctaw94328
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 69°
Columbus
Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 68°
Oxford
Cloudy
° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: °
Starkville
Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 68°
Rain coming in this weekend as a cold front moves through the area bringing cooler temperatures on into the start of next week.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather