Netflix (NFLX -2.50%) has another record-breaking hit on its hands. The leading premium video streaming service tweeted on Friday that more than 45 million of its accounts had streamed Bird Box -- the creepy dystopian horror flick starring Sandra Bullock -- in its first seven days of availability.
No movie has been as successful as Bird Box has been for Netflix in its first week of platform exclusivity. But a new record isn't a surprise, as the service's audience grows with every passing quarter. Total Netflix memberships have grown from 109.3 million to 135.1 million over the past year. For Bird Box to reach a third of its accounts in a week is a pretty big deal, but records will keep falling with future releases as Netflix's popularity continues to grow.
Took off my blindfold this morning to discover that 45,037,125 Netflix accounts have already watched Bird Box — best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film! pic.twitter.com/uorU3cSzHR— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) December 28, 2018
There are a few ways to approach the flick's huge reach over the past week, and they all bode well for Netflix. Let's start with the sheer volume of eyeballs on this thing. Many are comparing the film to this year's sleeper apocalyptic hit A Quiet Place, a film that rang up $188 million in domestic ticket sales and $340.7 million worldwide. At a nationwide average price of $9.14 per ticket, we're talking about a little more than 20 million stateside viewers of that film through its entire run. The worldwide box office receipts bring it closer to Netflix's haul, but again, Bird Box did this in a single week.
More importantly, Netflix is only talking about the 45 million-plus accounts that streamed the title. Odds are a lot of those people weren't watching it alone. It's probably a conservative estimate to say that over 100 million people have already seen the digital release. And there's no way 100 million people would've seen Bird Box in its first week if it had been a theatrical release.
The appeal of a Netflix release is the value proposition. Most folks who streamed it wouldn't have shelled out nearly as much as they pay for an entire month of Netflix to catch it once at the corner multiplex. However, if you're a movie maker, isn't reaching the largest audience possible the goal? Netflix is cutting big checks for content, but beyond being good money, it's just smart to work with Netflix if you want to expand the audience and marketing potential of a theatrical release.
Netflix is on a roll. It's coming off yet another blowout quarter, and it continues to pad its lead over the rest of the premium streaming options. The competition isn't exactly asleep at the wheel, and new rivals are coming in the year ahead. However, hearing that a new release can hit more than 45 million homes in a single week will make it that much harder for smaller services to compete. Netflix can spend more than $8 billion a year on content because it has the largest premium audience, and if money alone isn't a draw, Netflix can offer the world's largest group of potential viewers.
Netflix is winning now, and it will continue to win in 2019.