Netflix Launches ‘Watch Free’ Site Featuring Original Movies and TV Shows

Netflix has quietly launched a platform, dubbed “Watch Free,” enabling anyone with Internet access to stream select original movies and TV shows. Content includes dystopian thriller Bird Box, Murder Mystery and The Two Popes, among others.

TV shows include episodes of and DreamWorks Animation’s “The Boss Baby: Back in Business,” “Stranger Things,” reality show “Love Is Blind,” “When They See Us,” “Grace and Frankie,” “Elite” and “Our Planet.”

“Visit netflix.com/watch-free to get a peek at the type of entertainment you can expect from us by watching the first episode of some of our most popular shows,” Netflix said on the site.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The content, which can only be accessed on Windows PC or Mac computers and Android devices, is ad-free but includes a 30-second promo for Netflix programming and a link to sign up for a subscription.

“We’re looking at different marketing promotions to attract new members and give them a great Netflix experience,” a rep told Gadgets360, which first reported the story.

Netflix first experimented last year offering free access to select documentaries and movies in different markets. The service ended the most-recent fiscal period with 190 million subscribers.

Netflix Quietly Discloses Top Movies, TV Shows

Netflix, for strategic purposes, has never disclosed viewership data for original content, including TV shows and movies — unless there’s a strategic upside.

With two high-profile subscription streaming services bowing in November from Apple and Disney, and WarnerMedia and NBC Universal launching branded services early next year, Netflix has reportedly disclosed enough selective data to compile a list of top-performing original movies and series.

The New York Times cobbled together Top 10 lists of original movies and episodic programming streamed in households from October 2018 through September 2019.

Netflix, for the record, denied the release of any list, with a spokesperson telling The Times it was merely highlighting top-performing titles in quarter.

“They are not meant to be a comprehensive list of top performers,” the spokesman said.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

At the same time, Netflix has been disclosing top performing titles in Britain and Mexico — a move CCO Ted Sarandos said could be expanded to subscribers globally.

“If they want to use that as a tool to help guide their decision making, we want to help them do it,” Sarandos said on the Oct. 16 fiscal call.

Regardless, Sandra Bullock’s dystopian thriller Bird Box and sci-fi series “Stranger Things” topped both NYT lists.

Bird Box, from director Susanne Bier, about a single mother trying to protect her children from a supernatural force that makes people kill themselves after they look at it, generated more than 80 million households views since its Dec. 14, 2018 release.

The third season of “Stranger Things” generated 64 million views in its first four weeks of release since launching over the July 4 weekend.

Viewership is counted when a household watches at least 70% of an episode or movie.

Most-Watched Movies:

  1. Bird Box (80 million households)
  2. Murder Mystery (73 million)
  3. Triple Frontier (52 million)
  4. The Perfect Date (48 million)
  5. Tall Girl (41 million)
  6. The Highwaymen (40 million)
  7. Secret Obsession (40 million)
  8. Always Be My Maybe (32 million)
  9. Otherhood (29 million)
  10. Fyre (20 million)

 

Most-Watched TV Shows

  1. “Stranger Things” (64 Million)
  2. “The Umbrella Academy” (45 Million)
  3. “La Casa de Papel” (44 Million)
  4. “You” (40 Million)
  5. “Sex Education” (40 Million)
  6. “Our Planet (33 Million)
  7. “Unbelievable” (32 Million)
  8. “Dead to Me” (30 Million)
  9. “When They See Us” (25 Million)
  10. “Elite” (20 Million)

 

Did Netflix’s ‘El Camino’ Run Out of Gas?

Netflix’s big-budget “Breaking Bad” movie sequel (El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie) from creator Vince Gilligan offers a lengthy tale of morality and redemption through the gritty eyes of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) — the meth-cooking partner-in-crime to high school chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston), whose character perished in the 2013 series finale.

El Camino — name of the 1978 Chevrolet Pinkman made his escape in the series conclusion — premiered on Netflix Oct. 11, reportedly generated 8.2 million viewers in the United States opening weekend, including an average of 6.5 million per minute, and 2.6 million per minute opening day, according Nielsen.

The viewership was on par with the “Breaking Bad” series run, with opening day streaming of El Camino topping the 1.5 million average household views for “Breaking Bad” episodes.

Some media reports say the data portended a strong theatrical weekend if Netflix bothered to distribute original movies via industry norms.

The data made news largely based on the “Breaking Bad” legacy and the fact Netflix remains secretive about ratings data of original programming.

Netflix has downplayed Nielsen data in the past contending it is limited to TV households and excludes portable devices and international viewership.

It also suggests the possibility El Camino hasn’t generated as much traction with subscribers as might be expected compared with other high-profile Netflix movies. Or perhaps Nielsen disclosed incomplete data.

Regardless, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CCO Ted Sarandos made no mention of the movie during the service’s Oct. 16 fiscal webcast — which was noteworthy.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The service last year said a lot early about Bird Box, Sandra Bullock’s dystopian thriller that attracted 45 million households during its first week of release.

Kevin Costner’s Bonnie & Clyde thriller, The Highwaymen, generated 40-million first-month views, and Ben Affleck auctioneer Triple Frontier attracted 52 million households in 30 days.

The Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston original comedy Murder Mystery set an all-time weekend Netflix streaming record with 30.87 million views. Another 20 million streamed The Christmas Chronicles, starring Kurt Russell as Santa Claus.

On the Oct. 16 webcast, however, Sarandos just talked about pending movie releases 6 Underground, The Irishman, Marriage Story and The Two Popes, among others.

“It’s our first time we’ve seen the scale and this volume of films in one quarter, so we’re really excited about it,” Sarandos said.

So where’s the El Camino excitement?

Imax Open to Screening Netflix Movies if Streamer Expands Theatrical Window

Movie exhibitor Imax is open to screening Netflix movies provided the subscription streaming video pioneer agrees to a longer theatrical window, according to CEO Rich Gelfond.

Speaking earlier this month on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” Gelfond said Imax had joined other exhibitors bypassing Netflix original movies made available on the service day-and-date with theatrical release.

He said Imax’s stance would change if Netflix was willing to compromise.

“Directors themselves really want theatrical releases,” Gelfond said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see if [Netflix has] windows for that. Now, whether the windows are good enough where the theaters want to play them, that remains to be seen.”

Exhibitors want Netflix to abide the industry-standard 12-week window, while Netflix has agreed to 14-day windows for select films such as Oscar winner Roma and Bird Box– both earmarked for industry awards.

Netflix made new release The Highwaymen, starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, available theatrically on March 15 – two weeks ahead of its global streaming debut March 29.

Imax would like to screen Netflix’s next awards-caliber movie, The Irishman, from director Martin Scorsese, which debuts later this year.

 

 

Book Retailer Marketing Companion Titles for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Original Shows

If you can’t beat subscription streaming, join over-the-top video.

Books-A-Million, the Birmingham, Ala.-based chain of 200 bookstores, has issued a list of companion books to favorite Netflix, Hulu and other streaming titles. This list complements popular TV shows and movie titles, including “You,” “Stranger Things,” Bird Box, “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up,” among others.

“Think of the book as the uncut version of the movie or TV series – there is better character development, the plot is deeper, the blanks are filled in, there may be an alternate ending and there might be a sequel,” Margaret Terwey, senior buyer for Books-A-Million, said in a statement. “That’s why we think the book is better and why we encourage our customers to simultaneously stream and read.”

Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds: The First Official Stranger Things Novel ($28) by Gwenda Bond is a brand-new prequel providing readers with secrets and the background of Eleven’s mother.

Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders ($14.99) inspired the Amazon Prime series, which sets main character Hercule Poirot on the trail of an alphabetical serial killer.

You ($17) by Caroline Kepnes prompted the popular Netflix series about a young man who meets a woman and becomes obsessed with being her perfect partner, removing any obstacles in his way.

Josh Malerman’s Bird Box ($15.99) is a hit Netflix film (80 million viewers) about a post-apocalyptic world in which a monster lives, and anyone who sees the mysterious force is driven to deadly violence.

Decluttering guru and Netflix star Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up ($18.99) has revolutionized homes and lives across the world, and fanatics can go even further with her book featuring step-by-step illustrations.

Subscribe HERE to our FREE daily newsletter!

From the host of the television series and podcast “MeatEater,” The Meateater Fish and Game Cookbook: Recipes and Techniques for Every Hunter and Angler ($35) by Steven Rinella is a guide to cooking wild game, featuring more than 100 new recipes.

Now on Netflix, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking ($37.50) by Samin Nosrat and Wendy MacNaughton is an ambitious new approach to cooking by mastering the use of the four title elements.

The Game of Thrones prequel by George R. R. Martin, Fire and Blood – 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones ($35), helps readers dive deeper into the history of the Targaryens.

Available in paperback in April 2019, The One ($15.99) by John Marrs explores a company that promises to match people up with their soulmates via DNA testing.

Finally, fans of the movies that are streaming on Hulu and anyone anticipating the upcoming Amazon Prime Video original series will want The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings: Deluxe Pocket Boxed Set ($49.95), a four-volume set containing The Hobbit and the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings.

 

Netflix Says 80 Million Households Streamed ‘Bird Box’ in Four Weeks

Netflix Jan. 17 disclosed that through its first four weeks, original movie Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, was streamed by more than 80 million household worldwide.

Netflix previously disclosed that the film attracted 45 million households during its first week of release. Nielsen said that included 26 million households in the United States.

The post-apocalyptic thriller from Danish director Susanne Bier reportedly had a $19.8 million production budget.

Michael Pachter, digital media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, says Bird Box is an isolated phenomenon.

Pachter contends that the nature of Netflix subscriptions, where the consumption of additional content bears no additional cost, makes the streaming data for Bird Box analogous to the consumption of television programming, which is also subsumed in a pay-TV subscription.

He cited the recent college football championship game with 25 million viewers and President Trump’s national address with 43 million viewers as comparable to Bird Box numbers.

“We think that each of these broadcasts is more comparable to the 26 million viewers for Bird Box, since few (if any) people subscribed to cable TV solely in order to watch either broadcast, and each program has limited (if any) replay value,” Pachter wrote in a note. “While Bird Box definitely demonstrates the power of the Netflix platform to drive viewership of its originals, it will not necessarily lead to the long-term retention of subscribers.”

Analyst: ‘Bird Box’ Viewership Suggests Strong Q4 Netflix Sub Growth

Netflix’s fiscal fortunes on Wall Street largely revolve around meeting or exceeding subscriber growth projections. The more subs added, the less attention investors put on the streaming video pioneer’s ballooning content spend.

Netflix is estimating it added 9.4 million new subscribers worldwide in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018), including 1.5 million in the United States.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter contends Netflix will meet or exceed those numbers (perhaps gaining 1.7 million domestic sub additions) due to the global streaming success of original movie Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock.

The post-apocalyptic thriller was streamed by 45 million households during its first week of release last month, according to Netflix. Nielsen said 26 million households streamed the movie in the United States.

Pachter, in a Jan. 14 note, said the sub data meant that about 40% of domestic subscribers and 20% of international subs streamed the movie, suggesting that a larger than normal number of subscribers were active at quarter end.

“We think that the unusually high activity depressed churn [subs not renewing membership], leading to upside to both domestic and international subscriber additions, and we think that our above consensus Q4 subscriber estimates may prove to be conservative,” Pachter wrote. “We expect Netflix to highlight the success of Bird Box as a subscriber driver on its [fiscal] call.”

At the same time, Pachter believes Bird Box was an anomaly. He said comparing the 45 million viewers to the opening weekend of a major theatrical release is misleading. He said that the nature of Netflix’s business model puts no additional cost on subscribers consuming content – making it far more analogous to the consumption of television programming, which also is subsumed by a subscription.

“While Bird Box definitely demonstrates the power of the Netflix platform to drive viewership of its originals, it will not necessarily lead to the long-term retention of subscribers,” wrote Pachter.

Netflix reports Q4 results at the market close on Jan. 17.

 

Nielsen: 26 Million U.S. Netflix Subs Streamed ‘Bird Box’ During First Week

Nielsen has revealed that more than 26 million Netflix subscribers in the United States streamed original movie Bird Box during the its first week of release in December.

The data supports Netflix’s recent revelation that more than 45 million subs worldwide streamed the post-apocalyptic thriller starring Sandra Bullock as a single mother trying to safeguard her children against a mysterious force that makes people kill themselves after viewing it.

Netflix, per policy, does not disclose viewership data for original programming.

Notably, Bird Box was watched by fewer subscribers (3.5 million) on the first day (Dec. 21) of release than Netflix’s sci-fi thriller, Bright (5.4 million), starring Will Smith, which was released Dec. 13, 2017.

Bird Box, however, began to build subscriber momentum over the next days while Bright viewership declined. In addition, Netflix gave Box a very limited theatrical run in an attempt to comply with industry awards rules.

 

 

Netflix Warns Against ‘Bird Box’ Challenge

Netflix has taken to social media warning subscribers not to engage in the so-called Bird Box challenge, that began as an online meme challenging users to go about their daily lives blindfolded.

The Netflix original movie, which was viewed by more than 45 million Netflix households during its first week of release, stars Sandra Bullock as a single mom trying to safeguard her children in a post-apocalyptic world where a mysterious force makes people commit suicide when viewing it.

To avoid harm, survivors must remain blindfolded when outdoors.

“Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE,” Netflix tweeted. “We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.”

 

Netflix Says Record 45 Million People Streamed Original Movie ‘Bird Box’ During First Week

Netflix Dec. 28 disclosed that 45 million people streamed post-apocalyptic original movie Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, since its Dec. 21 launch. The tally is the largest-ever over a seven-day period for the subscription streaming video pioneer.

Netflix, which does not disclose viewer statistics as a matter of policy, previously revealed that 20 million people streamed The Christmas Chronicles, starring Kirk Russell.

“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!” Netflix tweeted.

The service didn’t say whether viewer households were global or just domestic. Netflix ended the most-recent fiscal period with 130 million paid subscribers worldwide.

Bird Box, directed by Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier, and co-starring Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich and Jacki Weaver, among others, features Bullock as a single mom attempting to save her family from a mysterious force that makes people kill themselves if they see it. Bullock and her kids are forced to escape wearing blindfolds.

Netflix has high hopes for film, agreeing to give it a limited exclusive theatrical run to appease industry awards voters.