Around $1.8B for Netflix? What ‘Bird Box’s’ 80M HH Views Might Convert to in Theatrical Dollars

Famously taciturn in regard to its viewer performance data for individual shows on its platform, Netflix was downright loquacious during its fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday.

Technically, Netflix started giving out this data last month, when it disclosed viewership for “Bird Box." Offering an update, Netflix said the horror movie starring Sandra Bullock has now been seen by 80 million subscribing households worldwide.

Doing some admittedly imprecise math in MCN’s Los Angeles-based laboratory, we multiplied the average size of a U.S. household (2.6 people, according to U.S. Census figures) times 80 million, then we multiplied that figure by what the Motion Picture Association of America says is the average price of a U.S. movie ticket ($8.97).

Our rough calculation is that “Bird Box” would have generated around $1.86 billion if its release was directly translated into a theatrical one.

Now, this admittedly crude exercise doesn’t account for the fact that much of that audience of 80 million households is international. And we concede that it is also very apples to oranges—deciding to select something to watch in the Netflix UI is a much different proposition than driving to a movie theater and buying a ticket. But the this little mathematical exercise does have some value in revealing the audience’s scale.

It's big!

Beyond continuing to update the rather extraordinary performance of “Bird Box,” Netflix also revealed rare insight to other originals produced for its site:

> Spanish-language series “Elite” was seen by 20 million subscribing households globally in the first four weeks after its October 5 debut.

> Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble’s creepy romantic drama series “You” was watched by an estimated 40 million Netflix households in the first four weeks after its September 9 launch.

> Netflix also projects that “Sex Education,” which stars Gillian Anderson and just premiered in the U.K. on Jan. 11, will similarly deliver around 40 million household views in its first four weeks.

Related: Netflix Beats Subscriber Estimates in Q4

“I would look at it like these are less financial metrics as they are cultural metric.” said Netflix CFO Spence Neumann. “So that what does it mean when 80 million households watch ‘Bird Box’? Well, culturally it means exactly the same thing as 80 million plus people buying a movie ticket to seeing it or 80 million households watching a TV show. So culturally, it’s meaningfully out there.”

For the quarter, Netflix said it added 7.6 million users worldwide, and around 1.6 million in the U.S. 

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!