"Marvel's Iron Fist" could've very well had the most binge-watched premiere of 2017 so far, as recently reported, but you have to tilt your head and squint at how that conclusion was reached.

Netflix doesn't release its viewer numbers -- much to the consternation of TV executives whose shows still live and die by Nielsen ratings. Netflix can just say their shows are doing as bigly as the networks and there's no way to officially confirm or deny it. So as much as it sounds great to read the data from research firm 7Park Data, via Variety, it has to be filed in the "Unconfirmed" drawer with most of the other Netflix analysis out there.

That said, here's what Variety reported on "Iron Fist":

The superhero drama's March 17 premiere was the most binge-watched this year for a Netflix drama, according to data from research firm 7Park Data, which measures number of streams on subscription video services. The company found that 54.7% of "Iron Fist" streams on the premiere date were of episodes three or higher. The average hour-long show on Netflix has a binge score of 46.9%.

"Iron Fist" also accounted for 14.6% of all Netflix streams on March 17 — the highest percentage of any series premiere that 7Park measured, topping "Stranger Things" (4.0%), "Marvel's Luke Cage" (12.8%), "Marvel's Daredevil" Season 2 (13.8%), and "Orange is the New Black" Season 4.

7Park says its data "is based on true web viewership data, so it is not an estimation nor do we use any sort of audio recognition service." Speaking of audio recognition service ... you may recall when NBC Universal head of research Alan Wurtzel quoted data from the firm Symphony Advanced Media to try and give a "Netflix reality check" on how many people are actually watching the streaming service. Symphony uses audio content recognition on phones to recognize what's being watched and when.

As the New York Times reported, in January 2016:

"According to Symphony's data, the Netflix show 'Jessica Jones' was viewed by 4.8 million people within the first 35 days of its premiere in the 18-49-year-old bracket important to advertisers. In that demographic, Mr. Wurtzel said that, according to Symphony's data, 'Master of None' had 3.9 million viewers, 'Narcos' had 3.2 million and Amazon's 'Man in the High Castle' had 2.1 million viewers."

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos called the figures NBC had quoted "remarkably inaccurate." He said Netflix doesn't even track the 18-49 demographic numbers, since it sells subscriptions not advertising based on target demos. At the time, he said Netflix had about 70 million subscribers worldwide and 43 million in the United States, but retained his stance that Netflix will never release ratings:

"One we give a number for a show, then every show will be benchmarked off of that show even though they were built sometimes for very specific audiences."

Nielsen managed to reveal some Netflix numbers in June 2016, during a presentation at its Consumer 360 conference. Here's what Nielsen revealed about Netflix's premiere of "Orange is the New Black" Season 4:

"According to the measurement service, 6.7 million people watched the show's season-four premiere from June 17, when it debuted on the service, through June 19. Over the same period, 5.9 million people watched the season's second episode.

That places "Orange" in the same league as the most watched shows on cable for the same week. In Nielsen live-plus-three ratings, the June 19 episode of HBO's "Game of Thrones" was cable's most watched show with 10.4 million total viewers. The June 13 season premiere of TNT's "Major Crimes" ranked second with 5.8 million."

How and why did that information come out? As Variety reported:

Last year, Nielsen began to track viewing on digital services such as Netflix, but has thus far only made its findings available to clients. Lionsgate, which produces "Orange is the New Black" [...] gave Nielsen permission to release data...

Until Nielsen or Netflix releases official data on shows like "Marvel's Iron Fist," we're going to keep getting estimations from data research firms like Symphony and 7Park. It's possible "Iron Fist" did have a huge premiere (maybe even because of all the bad reviews), but Netflix can't really brag about it without lifting its own veil of secrecy.

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Marvel's Iron Fist TV Show Poster
Marvel's Iron Fist
NETFLIXTVMAMarch 17, 2017
Based on 21 critics

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