In spite of a bomb-drop Super Bowl ad announcing its availability on Netflix immediately after the game, The Cloverfield Paradox managed to capture fewer than a million viewers the night of its debut, according to newly-released Nielsen ratings.
Viewer ratings for the J.J. Abrams-produced sequel, set this time around in a whole other space-time dimension, lagged far behind those for Will Smith’s Bright, which Variety reports is among the most-watched originals in Netflix history, only two months after its December 2017 premiere.
We should note: Nielsen figures for Netflix reflect TV-only views, and don't factor in phones, laptops, and other direct-streaming devices.
With that in mind, Nielsen estimates that only about 786,000 people fired up the streaming service to watch The Cloverfield Paradox’s Super Bowl Sunday debut. After three days, the film had lassoed some 2.8 million streams, ending a one-week period with a total estimated viewership of 5 million.
Compare those numbers with the more conventionally-advertised Bright — which landed an estimated 11 million viewers in the first three days of its release — and it’s hard to pin down a single explanation for Paradox’s tepid performance to date.
Maybe the movie suffered from its last-minute, guerrilla marketing gamble, or maybe it languished simply because Super Bowl viewers already had their hearts set on other post-game fare. NBC’s This Is Us, which also aired immediately after the game, netted 32.7 million viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That’s almost 32 million more viewers than Netflix managed with Paradox’s debut.
Sure, critics were harsh on Paradox, but they weren’t exactly easy on Bright, either. And it’s not guaranteed that fans dialed in to a football game were aware, in the moment, of how Paradox already had played with early reviewers.
More likely, perhaps, is the Cloverfield universe’s well-defined appeal to an especially niche fan base — and the love-hate reaction it seems to inspire across a broader audience. Much of the film’s ongoing Twitter buzz, both good and bad, is too saucy to quote here, but a quick scan of viewer reactions gives a pretty solid idea of how polarized the response has been.
At any rate, it’s not as though The Cloverfield Paradox stands alone among Netflix’s roster of nominally-viewed sci-fi originals. Nielsen numbers for the 10-episode Altered Carbon series — one of the most expensive the streaming service has ever produced — are only a tick ahead of Paradox, with 3.7 million viewers having tuned in for the first episode, and 5.9 million watching the first installment after a one-week span. So far, THR reports, about one million people have stuck with Altered Carbon all the way to the end of Takeshi Kovacs' sleeve-inhabiting mystery.
Which side of the Cloverfield fan debate are you on? Tell us what you thought of Paradox — or, if you’re a holdout, whether it’s made it onto your list of must-sees.