Does an Oscar win as record-making as that of ‘CODA’ lead to a bump in viewership for the film? According to Apple, reports ‘Variety’, the historic Oscar best picture win for its original film, ‘CODA’, has produced immediate results — drawing 25 per cent new viewers to Apple TV+, and pushing viewing of the film up by more than 300 per cent, compared to the week prior.
Apple does not give out numbers, so the percentage mean very little. ‘Deadline’, therefore, turned to a third-party streaming data provider, Samba TV, for the numbers. According to Samba TV, after ‘CODA’ secured three nominations, the Sian Heder film was viewed by an additional 3,75,000 viewers on Apple+ TV.
Following this spike, the total viewership of the film, which was picked up by Apple TV+ at Sundance 2021 for $25 million, went up to 9,73,000 (that is all since it dropped on August 13 last year), a fractional number when compared to 10.3 million for the Leonardo DiCaprio-starrer ‘Don’t Look Up’, which was also nominated for best picture, or 5.3 million for ‘Dune’, which swept awards in the technical categories, 3.4 million for ‘The Power of the Dog’, which won Jane Campion best director, and 3.4 million for ‘King Richard’, which landed the best actor trophy for Will Smith after he infamously slapped Chris Rock.
Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’, which started streaming after it struggled in the box office and didn’t register much of a presence, drew 1.9 million eyeballs since the Oscar nominations were announced, but the biggest gainer of the ‘Oscar halo’ was ‘Nightmare Alley’, Guillermo del Toro’s neo-noir psychological thriller that turned out to be a box-office dud, but drew 2.1 million viewers in the days after it got its best picture nomination.
CODA, clearly, won’t make money for Apple+ TV, nor will it be more than a celebrated niche film, but as Apple CEO Tim Cook has made it abundantly clear that the tech giant does not “make purely financial decisions about the content (on Apple+)”.
He said: “We try to find great content that has a reason for being.”
Speaking during an earnings call after announcing the company’s quarterly results in January, Cook, according to ‘Variety’, was responding to an analyst’s question about whether the “socially responsible” programming lens of Apple TV+ might be causing its corporate parent to be hesitant about acquiring a studio.
‘CODA’ wasn’t much in the news then, so the CEO called out the multiple-award-winning comedy drama series ‘Ted Lasso’, starring Jason Sudekis as the fish-out-of-water American football coach leading an English soccer club.
“We love shows like ‘Ted Lasso’ and several of the other shows … that have a reason for existing and may have a good message, and may make people feel better at the end of it,” Cook said, according to ‘Variety’.
He added: “But I don’t feel that we’ve narrowed our universe of things we’re selecting from. There’s plenty to pick from out there, and I think we’re doing a pretty good job of it as we speak.”
Cook then went on to reel out numbers for the awards and nominations that the Apple TV+ programming slate has nabbed, rather than viewership or subscribers.
In its first two years, Apple TV+ shows and movies have earned 200 award wins and more than 890 nominations, Cook said. The feature films he named included ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’, starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, ‘CODA’, and ‘Swan Song’, starring Mahershala Ali, along with upcoming new series ‘Severance’ and ‘The Afterparty’.
“Each one is a tremendous credit to all the storytellers in front of the cameras and behind them who touched audiences all over the world,” Cook said.
The Apple CEO’s comments, according to ‘Variety’, suggest that the company still sees the streaming service strategically as mainly a loss-leader for sales of iPhones, Apple TV 4K set-tops and other hardware products.