"Bird Box" is as big a hit as Netflix claims.
Nielsen is adding credibility to Netflix's unverified claim that 45 million subscribers worldwide watched the Sandra Bullock film within the first seven days of its Dec. 21 release on the streaming service.
The claim seemed incredible, because the figure represents nearly one in three Netflix subscriber homes. But the ratings service on Tuesday released estimates that 26 million U.S. subscribers watched the movie in the same seven-day period, second only to the second season of "Stranger Things," which had fewer than 27 million for its most-recent season.
Previously, Netflix has never disclosed the audience size for any of its projects, and routinely disputes the accuracy of outside efforts to measure it.
"Bird Box," about a mysterious force that decimates populations who see it, sparking the use of blindfolds to remain safe, also remained remarkably consistent in daily viewership. It started with 3.5 million on Day 1 and peaked on its eighth day with 3.9 million viewers, "a very atypical event" Nielsen attributed to "extraordinary buzz." A large portion of "Bird Box" viewers were young, ethnically diverse, and female, Nielsen says; many created "Bird Box Challenge" memes featuring blindfolds, causing Netflix to discourage fans from doing so.
By contrast, Will Smith's "Bright," which premiered Dec. 13, 2017, drew 5.4 million viewers on its first day but fell sharply in successive days.
After one week, "Bright" had amassed 20 million viewers to 26 million for "Bird Box."
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