And that may not happen.
“I don’t think there’s a strong incentive to be more public about viewership data,” said Zak Shaikh, vice president of programming and entertainment at research-based media firm, Magid.
After all, viewership isn’t really important to services because most rely on a subscription business model. Still, having a name brand film like “Hamilton” on the service brings attention to Disney+, which in turn could bring in more subscribers.
As these big releases make the switch from theater plans to digital release, their viewership turns from mostly transparent to somewhat opaque.
And the line between “what constitutes a success and what isn’t is becoming very blurred” in the streaming world, said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com.
That opacity doesn’t always work in a service’s or studio’s favor, because box office totals and TV ratings are more than a metric of success. They provide marketing opportunities to promote a film or TV show based on its popularity, according to Robbins. That’s why ads for big summer movies are always telling you to go see “the No. 1 film in the world!”
“Holding back data can protect the reality of disappointing performances, but it also means the successes can’t be truly gauged or leveraged,” Robbins said. “Box office data has become akin to baseball statistics. A studio can use a film’s opening weekend to tout how popular it is just like a player’s popularity skyrockets when they hit 50 home runs in a season.”
Ultimately, true transparency may likely require advertisers to push streaming services into it, said Shaikh, the Magid analyst.
“As the streaming world gets more crowded, advertising-based services will begin to play a bigger role,” Shaikh added. “And advertisers may well demand this data be public, so to help make comparisons between pieces of content.”
Until then, the streaming success of “Hamilton” and films like it will be open to interpretation.
“It’s clearly all about the sheer number of subscribers and not the success of individual titles that matter to streaming companies,” said Dergarabedian, the Comscore analyst. “But as more services and content come online, it would behoove the industry to embrace the power of data to influence consumer behavior.”