It’s no surprise that thousands would tune in to watch Aaron Paul reprise his role as Jesse Pinkman six years after Breaking Bad went off the air. The Emmy-winning AMC series was a landmark hit both critically and commercially, and the hype going into the series’ first feature film was unreal. But let’s take those numbers with a grain of s — we saw with a previous “record-breaker” Bird Box that Netflix likes to inflate its official numbers the streamer reported 45 million accounts watched versus Nielsen’s 26 million, and we recently learned that Netflix has different categorizations for its viewers that may affect these ratings. Do these 25 million households include only the “completers” or does it also lump in the “starters” who only watch the first two minutes of a movie?
That we may never find out, because Netflix would rather tweet about its favorite 2000s rom-coms than give us solid, transparent ratings. In the words of the greatJesse Pinkman, we want the science, bitch.
UPDATED with Netflix's own numbers. Netflix's El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie reached nearly 8.2 million viewers in the U.S. in its opening weekend last Friday through Sunday, according to the latest data from Nielsen.
But that's just in the U.S. On a global basis, according to fresh stats tweeted today by the streaming giant, 25,734,392 households a nice, round number watched the film in its first seven days. “Households” is also not the same as the total number of viewers. The traditional notion of a family gathered around the cathode-ray tube does not apply to streaming, where the same member account can be used by one family member streaming on a phone and others watching other ways.
Nielsen's SVOD Content Ratings service found the film drew an average minute audience of 6.5 million, with 2.6 million of that coming on its October 11 opening day. That multiple, in traditional movie box office terms, is a fairly attractive one for such a pre-sold property, which would normally have a disproportionately large first-day audience. Translating theatrical moviegoing dynamics to streaming viewing, of course, is not an exact science — especially when the numbers are only from the U.S., which accounts for less than 40% of Netflix's global subscriber tally.
That said, the Nielsen insights are worth some consideration. The measurement firm said 36% of opening-weekend viewers were aged 18 to 34, the most represented age demo. The audience skewed heavily male, with nearly 40% of the opening-weekend viewership males aged 18-49.
In preparation for the stealthily marketed sequel movie that revisited the AMC drama classic, Nielsen said viewing of the original series on Netflix surged.During the week of the premiere, October 7-13, the average minute audience of U.S. TV viewers for Breaking Bad topped 153,000, a spike of 147% from the 62,000 watching it in mid-September.
Netflix name-checked the movie when it released its third-quarter earnings Wednesday, but did not offer its own viewership data. It did disclose numbers for a select number of other film and TV titles.
At a moment when many media companies are changing their stances on Netflix, pulling back content in order to control their own streaming destinies, AMC has generally embraced the streaming giant's amplifier effect. As with some of its other standout shows in past years like Mad Men, the linear ratings for Breaking Bad experienced stair-step growth each season during its run, spurts the network attributed in large part to Netflix. AMC Networks has made a push into streaming, but in a more niche fashion via outlets like BritBox, Shudder and SundanceNow. AMC Premiere, a commercial-free subscription streaming outlet, features several of the network's shows but not Breaking Bad.
Here is a more detailed Nielsen chart with some more numbers:
And here is Netflix's rather straightforward tweet about the film's viewership:
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie was watched by 25,734,392 households in its first seven days pic.twitter.com/FDyPlYc8YO
Netflix will soon be faced with competition from lower-priced rivals offering tantalizing content: Apple TV+ will be $5 a month, or free for a year if you buy an iPhone. The franchise-packed Disney+ will cost $7, or you can bundle your subscription with ESPN+ and Hulu for just $13 total — the same as Netflix’s standard plan. But if you ask the streaming giant’s content chief Ted Sarandos, Netflix won’t need to cut prices in the face of new competition because it simply offers the best value of all.
Sarandos laid out his case Wednesday morning during an interview with Katie Couric at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in Los Angeles. And that case is that Netflix is essential — for anyone who wants to be part of cultural conversations, for cinephiles searching for the kinds of movies studios don’t make anymore, or the masses seeking to be entertained.
“It's not about the price, it’s about the value,” he said. “If people are getting enough value relative to the price, they're in.”
As one example, he pointed to “The Office” and “Friends,” two long-off-the-air network comedies that have found enormous viewership on Netflix. According to Nielsen, they were Netflix’s two most popular shows in 2018, when they accounted for 5.5% of total viewing minutes spent on the service.
The shows are now some of the most expensive assets being fought over in the burgeoning streaming war: “Friends” is leaving Netflix for HBO Max at a price tag of $425 million for five years and “The Office” is heading to NBCUniversal’s Peacock service for $500 million for the same length of time.
The series command such sky-high prices because people love them and watch them over and over again, giving subscribers a sense they’re getting good value from their Netflix subscription — their very market value stems from the popularity the series found once they were on Netflix, Sarandos said, pointing to the fact that both were in syndication long before they were available to stream. On Netflix, they’ve entered the zeitgeist for a new generation, providing fodder for the priceless internet currency of perfect reaction memes and sharable clips.
They’re taking #TheOffice off of Netflix in 2021 pic.twitter.com/LZLcG537jP
— Nelson Serrano @nelsonser54 June 26, 2019
“Part of the enduring success is that those shows are on Netflix and people can watch them and engrain them with their lives,” he said. In essence, it wasn’t that “The Office” and “Friends” accrued $400 million+ pricetags by increasing in value on their own - but because they were on Netflix. The platform increased their popularity.
It was shows like “The Office” that helped Netflix build a subscriber base, which stands at 97.7 million worldwide. As studios and networks were focused squarely on producing first-run content for linear TV and movies for theatrical release, Netflix was eagerly buying up streaming rights as it gave people content the way they actually wanted to watch it. Not on a random channel at a random time, but at two, three, or four episodes at a time.
Sarandos and other Netflix execs knew that dynamic wouldn’t last long. But he’s surprised Disney, WarnerMedia, and others allowed it to happen for so long.
“When they were selling us their content years ago, I was kind of surprised every time,” he said. “I said ‘Some day, these guys are not going to sell us their programming and so we better get good at it.'”
That day has come in a big way. Disney’s Marvel Studios won’t be producing superhero content like “Jessica Jones” for Netflix anymore — all Marvel Cinematic Universe content will eventually find its way onto Disney+, which Netflix CEO Reed Hastings considers Netflix’s chief rival. Same for Disney animation, live action, National Geographic, and Star Wars.
Couric asked: Can Netflix survive?
“The primary driver of why they join and why they retain is having their favorite show on Netflix, which is increasingly original content,” Sarandos said.
The content boss is confident Netflix will fare well in the streaming wars because it’s ahead of the curve — today, it’s more “Stranger Things” and “Murder Mystery” that are keeping subscribers satisfied, he said.
Sarandos said Netflix is also ahead of its rivals internationally: Next year the service will offer 130 local-language series like the Spanish “La Casa de Papel” and Japan’s “The Naked Director.” He pointed out that for many tech companies domestic sales represent just 20% of their business.
Netflix is also continuing it’s push into film as a way to get audiences excited about the service’s movie offerings.
“What we realized when we were licensing movies from other people, that long window from the time a movie’s in a theater to when you can watch it at home was so long people would lose interest in the film,” Sarandos said. “It was very passive kind of watching, because you got the people who didn’t care enough about the movie to go see it.”
Compare that to this year’s Netflix originals slate, which includes buzzy titles like Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.” For many people, at home via Netflix will be their first change to watch the gangster epic.
Sarandos said that’s the kind of movie that couldn’t have been made using studio economics. In fact, no studio would touch it due to its 3 1/2 hour length — which would limit the number of daily showings, and therefore ticket sales - and the fact that the film’s de-aging technology was not ready until very recently.
“I think there are a lot of movies if you look at the traditional business model of putting it in the theaters and selling tickets and holding it and then selling it on DVD and then selling it to TV, there are a lot of movies you would not make under that scenario,” he said. “This opens up the world to a lot of movies that are very difficult to have a business model around. We can actually make them, fans can enjoy them, the artists can be compensated commensurate with a big box office hit and we can keep making them.”
Noah Emmerich The Americans is taking a comedic turn with a role opposite Steve Carell in Space Force, Netflix's new workplace comedy from the former Office star and The Office developer/EP Greg Daniels. Emmerich is among a trio of recurring cast additions, along with Fred Willard Modern Family and Jessica St. Clair Playing House.
Your Complete Guide to Pilots and Straight-to-Series orders
Co-created by Carell and Daniels, Space Force is centered around the people tasked with creating a sixth branch of the armed services...Space Force. It stars Carell as Mark R. Naird, a General tapped by the White House to lead a new branch of the Armed Forces with the goal of putting American “Boots on the Moon” by 2024.
Emmerich plays Kick Grabaston, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, Mark's Carell old boss and internal rival. Resentful that Space Force is not under his command, Kick takes every opportunity to dominate and undermine Mark.
Willard plays Fred Naird, Mark's Carell father. Sharp as a tack but frail, Fred is caring for his senile wife and starting to make bad decisions, such as crawling under his house to check the pipes without telling anyone.
St. Clair plays Kelly King, a forthright civilian contractor helping Mark Carell build the new base in Colorado. She hates incompetence and children for the same reason.
In addition to star Carell, Emmerich, Willard and St. Clair join Space Force series regulars John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers and Tawny Newsome as well as fellow recurring players Jimmy O. Yang, Alex Sparrow and Don Lake. Paul King is directing two of the series’ 10 episodes , including the pilot.
Carell and Daniels, who serves as showrunner, executive produce with 3 Arts' Howard Klein.
The Americans alum Emmerich is coming off a co-starring turn opposite Sacha Baron Cohen in the Netflix limited series The Spy. He also recently starred opposite Julianna Margulies in the Nat Geo limited series The Hot Zone. He is repped by Gersh and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. St. Clair has been recurring on ABC comedy series American Housewife. She is repped by UTA, Rise Management and Morris Yorn.. Comedy veteran Willard is with Amsel, Eisenstadt.
Fall has officially arrived, and Netflix is dropping plenty of viewing material as the indoor season gets started. The streaming giant has a fistful of original series and films to keep fans occupied, including Martin Scorsese's The Irishman with the de-aging of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, along with Timothée Chalamet as a wayward prince in The King, and a new cast and time jump for The Crown. Subscribers can also enjoy some older, still bingeable favorites like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Rosemary's Baby.
Here's everything coming to and leaving Netflix this November, so dig in.
The Irishman Netflix film streaming 11/27
Martin Scorsese's latest sure-to-be masterpiece sees a return team-up for Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, along with Joe Pesci. There's hefty CGI de-aging involved to bring all the various eras of this epic saga together, so that'll hopefully be part of the enjoyment of watching. De Niro portrays Frank Sheeran, a veteran, hustler, and hitman whose notoriety is only eclipsed by the notoriety of the figures that he flanked, and Pacino plays legendary teamster Jimmy Hoffa, who goes missing, thereby sparking the film's central mystery.
The Crown Netflix film streaming 11/17
The timeline jumps forward to the 1960s with a new cast, and anticipation is running high for this one. Olivia Colman takes over from Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II, Helena Bonham Carter assumes the Princess Margaret role after Vanessa Kirby, and the sisterly rivalry goes full throttle. Meanwhile, Tobias Menzies looks none too friendly while taking over from Matt Smith as Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher should be quite a force as well.
The King Netflix film streaming 11/1
Timothée Chalamet stars as Hal, a wayward prince who doesn't want to take the English throne, so he attempts to live among his subjects. However, not all goes as planned, given that his father, King Henry V, passes away, and Hal must wear the crown and navigate all of the political maneuvering that comes along with the title. Robert Pattinson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily-Rose Depp, and Sean Harris co-star.
Fire in Paradise Netflix documentary 11/1
The California town of Paradise went up in flames on November 8, 2018, and this documentary follows the Camp Fire's tour of destruction as it killed 85 people and destroyed an entire town. Survivor accounts and first-hand footage should make for a vivid retelling of that horrible day.
Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby Netflix original 11/5
The host of Late Night host and alum of SNL takes on his first Netflix comedy special, which will mostly focus on his family-man side. It looks pretty adorable, actually.
Here's the full list of titles coming to Netflix in November:
Avail. 11/1 American Son Atypical: Season 3 DriveFire in ParadiseHacheHello NinjaHoliday in the WildThe KingThe Man Without GravityQueer Eye: We're in Japan!True: Grabbleapple HarvestWe Are the Wave Billy on the Street: Seasons 2-5 Christmas Break-InChristmas in the HeartlandsChristmas SurvivalElliot the Littlest ReindeerFear and Loathing in Las VegasGreaseHolly StarHow to Be a Latin LoverLove Jones Mars: Season 2 Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: Seasons 1-2 Paid in FullRosemary's BabyRoundersSanta GirlStep BrothersThe Christmas Candle The Deep: Season 3 The GameThe Matrix RevolutionsZombieland
Avail. 11/4 A Holiday EngagementChristmas CrushDear SantaThe Devil Next DoorDistrict 9
Avail. 11/5 The End of the F***ing World: Season 2 Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Season 4 Tune in for LoveUndercover Brother 2
Avail. 11/6 Scams
Avail. 11/7 The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open
Avail. 11/8 Busted!: Season 2 The Great British Baking Show: Holidays: Season 2 Greatest Events of WWII in HD ColorGreen Eggs and HamLet It SnowParadise Beach Wild District: Season 2
Avail. 11/9 Little Things: Season 3
Avail. 11/10 Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj: Volume 5
Avail. 11/11 A Single Man
Avail. 11/12 Harvey Girls Forever!: Season 3 Jeff Garlin: Our Man In Chicago
Avail. 11/13 Maradona in Mexico
Avail. 11/14 The Stranded
Avail. 11/15 Avlu: Part 2The ClubEarthquake BirdGO!: The Unforgettable PartyHouse ArrestI'm with the Band: Nasty CherryKlaus Llama Llama: Season 2 The Toys That Made Us: Season 3
Avail. 11/22 Dino Girl GaukoDolly Parton's Heartstrings The Dragon Prince: Season 3 High Seas: Season 2 Meet the Adebanjos: Seasons 1-3 Mon frère Nailed It! Holiday!: Season 2 Narcoworld: Dope Stories Nobody's LookingSingapore Social Trolls: The Beat Goes On!: Season 8
Avail. 11/23 End of Watch
Avail. 11/24 Shot Caller
Avail. 11/25 Dirty John: Season 1
Avail. 11/26 Mike Birbiglia: The New OneSuper Monsters Save ChristmasTrue: Winter Wishes
Avail. 11/27 BrokenThe Irishman
Avail. 11/28 Holiday RushJohn Crist: I Ain't Prayin' For ThatMerry Happy WhateverMytho
Avail. 11/29 AtlanticsChip and Potato: Season 2I Lost My BodyLa Reina del Sur: Season 2The Movies That Made UsSugar Rush Christmas
Here's the full list of titles leaving Netflix in November:
November 1 42300A Dog's LifeAs Good As It GetsCaddyshackCaddyshack 2Chasing LibertyGran TorinoGroundhog DayLittle WomenMadagascar: Escape 2 AfricaRecess: Taking the Fifth GradeRoad HouseRomeo Is BleedingScary Movie 2ScreamSeal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin LadenSex and the City: The MovieStardustStitchesTaking LivesThe AmericanThe Bank JobThe Bishop's WifeThe House BunnyThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the KingThe Lord of the Rings: The Two TowersThe Sixth Sense
November 2 Last Tango in Halifax: Season 1-3
November 3 Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby: Season 1
Fresh off showing the Vanity Fair Summit what journalism actually looks like in her sit down yesterday with Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, Katie Couric wasted no time today jumping in with Netflix's Ted Sarandos with the declaration that “the sharks are circling.”
“We've been competing since Day One,” the streamer's chief content officer noted of the wave of new digital services like AppleTV+ and Disney+ that are coming online in the next month and how back when Netflix was sending out DVDs in little red envelopes they were fighting against the “pretty scary big companies” of Blockbuster and Walmart.
“We have one product,” Sarandos declared against the iPhone manufacturer and the theme park and more conglomerate of Disney, among the new kids on the streaming block, “we make great television and films for our customers ...and we have to keep doing that.” Long story short from Sarandos in a wide ranging chat with Couric: “We're about change and keeping things fresh.”
In a fast-paced early morning interview with the former CBS News anchor, the streaming exec was put on notice just how intently the industry is watching how Netflix will withstand the onslaught of competitors like AppleTV+ and Disney+. With the deep pockets and decades of content plus Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars for the Tim Cook and Bob Iger run companies, Sarandos was pressed on the true bottom line.
“Our stock rise is not for the faint of heart, it's a long story,” Sarandos noted of how Wall Street and the market has reacted to missed subscriber targets and big moves like this week's announcement that Disney+ is teaming with Verizon to offer the November 12 launching streaming service free to customers of the telecom. Today actually sees Netflix stock up about 2% in the first half of the trading day.
Sarandos was bluntly pressed by Couric if the top team at Netflix have considered getting out of the way as Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal all bring their game to the streaming field over the next year. “We have no plans” to sell,” the erudite executive stated, adding that he had “never discussed selling the company” with founder and CEO Reed Hastings
“It's not about the price, it's about the value,” Sarandos offered on the Netflix philosophy and attitude towards lower priced newbies and the multitude of libraries and original content they will be dropping on choice rich consumers soon.
BTW — if you are keeping a running tally, there was yet another reference to HBO's Succession this morning. From VF editor Radhika Jones to Sarandos and many others, the Emmy wining media mogul drama is the hot show among the Info elite. Which probably has James Murdoch dreading another question in his session later today about the series so clearly somewhat based on his family — rich people problems.