Netflix's Army of the Dead, a hybrid heist-zombie flick from director Zack Snyder, is projected to reach an audience of 72 million accounts in its first four weeks of release, Netflix said Friday. The projection comes just one week after Army of the Dead premiered. (For context, that's more than Holidate and The Kissing Booth 2 but less than Extraction, Bird Box, Spenser Confidential, 6 Underground and The Old Guard, among others.)
Netflix's popularity figures always need disclaimers.
To start, Netflix counts a show or movie as watched after two minutes. That's a much more generous standard than, for example, Nielsen uses to gauge the audience of shows on regular TV. Netflix has argued in the past that it needn't conform to legacy TV standards like Nielsen's, which were developed to measure the reach of advertising. Netflix, after all, has no ads. Still, the two-minute threshold means some titles count as being watched before the viewer even hits the main title sequence.
In the case of Army of the Dead, the movie hits two minutes before any of the main characters appear on screen.
Netflix's stats also aren't independently verified, nor are they backed up by detailed data from the company, putting Netflix in the position to cherry-pick highlights without much transparency. Traditional
companies, by contrast, report their box office performance and it's independently monitored, and they're at the mercy of third parties like Nielsen as the barometer for TV shows.
And Netflix gets its projections wrong sometimes too. It initially underestimated how many accounts would watch Bridgerton, its soapy period-piece series. Roughly two weeks after the show came out, Netflix predicted 63 accounts would watch Bridgerton in its first four weeks of release. But when the time actually elapsed, 82 million had.
For years, Netflix was notoriously tight-lipped about viewership. The creator of House of Cards, which put Netflix's original content efforts on the map, once said the company wouldn't even share viewership metrics with him. But within the last two years, Netflix has grown much chattier about the popularity of its shows and movies, to help recruit talent and stoke buzz. Netflix also added a top-trending ranking to its service, so people can see what the most popular titles streaming on Netflix in their country are on any given day.
But Netflix's audience stats have exasperated parts of the TV industry for being unverified, unsupported and disclosed without much accountability.
As Netflix grows bigger, so too do its shows and movies. At the end of last year, Netflix surpassed 200 million global members, further cementing its dominance of subscription streaming video. By growing its total subscriber base globally, Netflix ensures that the biggest hits on the service each year tend to be bigger than the ones that came before.
Netflix's previous viewership disclosures for past titles are listed below. All the following figures are for the titles' first four weeks of release, using the two-minute metric, except for Netflix's projections where noted:
- Extraction, an action movie starring Chris Hemsworth -- 99 million accounts.
- Bird Box, a postapocalyptic movie starring Sandra Bullock -- more than 89 million accounts.
- Spenser Confidential, an action-comedy movie starring Mark Wahlberg -- 85 million accounts.
- 6 Underground, a Michael Bay explosion-fest starring Ryan Reynolds -- 83 million accounts.
- Season 1 of Bridgerton -- 82 million accounts.
- The Old Guard, an action-thriller movie -- 78 million accounts.
- Enola Holmes, a period detective caper film -- 76 million accounts projected.
- Season 1 of The Witcher, a fantasy series based on an existing franchise of books and
-- 76 million accounts.
- Project Power, a dark superhero movie -- 75 million accounts.
- Murder Mystery, a comedy movie starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston -- 73 million accounts.
- The Midnight Sky, a sci-fi movie directed and starring George Clooney -- 72 million accounts projected.
- Season 1 of Lupin, a French heist series -- 70 million accounts projected.
- Holidate, a Christmas-themed rom-com movie -- 68 million accounts.
- Kissing Booth 2, a teen rom-com flick -- 66 million accounts.
- Outside the Wire, a sci-fi movie starring Anthony Mackie as an android supersoldier -- 66 million accounts.
- Part 4 of La Casa de Papel, or Money Heist, a Spanish-language heist thriller series -- 65 million accounts projected.
- The Irishman, a period epic about the Mafia, directed by Martin Scorsese -- 64 million accounts.
- Tiger King, a viral docuseries -- 64 million households.
- Triple Frontier, an action/heist movie starring Ben Affleck -- 63 million accounts.
- The Queen's Gambit, a limited series about a chess prodigy -- 62 million accounts.
- Yes Day, a family film about kids being in charge -- 62 million accounts.
- The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two, a sequel Santa Claus adventure movie -- 61 million accounts.
- The Wrong Missy, a romantic-comedy movie starring David Spade and Lauren Lapkus -- 59 million accounts.
- Season 1 of Fate: The Winx Saga, a teen drama about fairies -- 57 million accounts.
- The Platform, a Spanish sci-fi horror movie -- 56 million accounts.
- I Care a Lot, a thriller about a con artist who scammed a dangerous man -- 56 million accounts.
- Season 1 of Who Killed Sara?, a Mexican series about a brother's hunt for revenge -- 55 million accounts projected.
- Season 2 of You, a psychological thriller series -- 54 million accounts projected.
- We Can Be Heroes, the kids-of-superheroes action film -- 53 million accounts projected.
- Season 1 of Ginny & Georgia, a dramedy about a young mother and her kids seeking a fresh start -- 52 million accounts.
- American Murder: The Family Next Door, a true-crime documentary film -- 52 million accounts projected.
- To All the Boys: Always and Forever, the final film in a popular teen rom-com trilogy -- 51 million accounts.
- Seasons 1 and 2 of Cobra Kai, a reboot series of The Karate Kid -- 50 million accounts.
- Season 1 of Firefly Lane, a drama chronicling the friendship of two women over decades -- 49 million accounts.
- The Perfect Date, a teen romantic-comedy movie -- 48 million accounts.
- Season 1 of Ratched, a psychological thriller series -- 48 million accounts.
- Below Zero, a Spanish action film about an attack on a prisoner transport truck -- 47 million accounts.
- Season 3 of Cobra Kai, a teen action series about a band of misfit martial artists -- 45 million accounts.
- Over the Moon, an animated film about a girl traveling to a mythical land -- 43 million accounts.
- Season 2 of Umbrella Academy, a superhero series -- 43 million accounts.
- Klaus, an animated holiday film nominated for an Oscar -- 40 million accounts.
- Season 5 of Lucifer, a fantasy police-procedural series -- 38 million accounts.
- The Social Dilemma, a documentary about social-media companies -- 38 million accounts
- Season 1 of Barbarians, a German historical action series -- 37 million accounts.
- Squared Love, a Polish rom-com film about a womanizer who falls for a model living a double life -- 31 million accounts.
- Season 1 of Love Is Blind, a dating competition series -- 30 million.
- Just Another Christmas, Netflix's first Portuguese-language holiday film -- 26 million accounts.
- Space Sweepers, a South Korean space Western about four outcasts who discover a lethal robot child -- 26 million accounts.
- Part 1 of Selena: The Series, a Spanish-language show about the famed singer -- 25 million accounts.
- Season 1 of Sweet Home, a Korean-language horror show -- 22 million accounts.
- Season 3 of The Crown, a historical drama series -- 21 million accounts.
- Season 1 of Alice in Borderland, a Japanese-language sci-fi thriller series -- 18 million accounts.
Prior to 2020, Netflix counted views differently. Netflix would count something as "watched" when you got through 70% of it, either of the first episode for a series or of a film's total runtime. Netflix says the new two-minute threshold is more fair to all titles, regardless of their length. But it also means the new stats have inflated viewership numbers by about one-third compared with the old ones.
These are previous viewership stats under the old rules. They're figures Netflix released (or projected, where noted) for the first four weeks of release.
- Stranger Things season 3, a retro sci-fi series -- 64 million households.
- Umbrella Academy, a superhero series -- 45 million households.
- Tall Girl, a teen rom-com movie -- 41 million households.
- Sex Education, a British teen dramedy show -- more than 40 million households.
- The Highwaymen, a period crime movie starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson -- more than 40 million households.
- Secret Obsession, a movie mystery about a young wife with amnesia -- 40 million views.
- Our Planet, a BBC-style nature docu-series -- 33 million households.
- Always Be My Maybe, a comedy film with Ali Wong and Randall Park -- 32 million households.
- Unbelievable, a true-crime miniseries about the victims of a serial rapist and the detectives hunting him down -- 32 million accounts.
- Dead to Me, a dramedy series with Christina Applegate -- 30 million households.
- Otherhood, a movie about a band of moms visiting their adult sons by surprise -- 29 million households.
- When They See Us, a buzzy limited series from creator Ava DuVernay about the Central Park Five case -- 25 million households.
- Bodyguard, a BBC-World Productions series that previously aired in the UK -- 23 million member households.
- FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, a documentary film about the Fyre Fest debacle -- more than 20 million homes.
- Élite, a Spanish-language high-school soap series -- more than 20 million member households.
- Baby, an Italian teen drama series -- more than 10 million homes.
- The Protector, Netflix's first Turkish original series -- more than 10 million households.