Netflix entered into the realm of live television over the weekend with “Selective Outrage,” a Chris Rock comedy special that streamed live on the service Saturday night. And after much hype — as well as controversy over some of Rock’s material — the special appears to have found the audience that the streamer was hoping for.
On Netflix’s latest weekly chart of the top 10 most-watched shows in the United States, “Selective Outrage” ranks No. 7; Netflix did not offer any specific data on the special’s viewership numbers. Although No. 7 for a highly-hyped event might sound a bit of a letdown, the chart tracks viewing over the week of February 27 to March 5. Rock’s special debuted via livestream on 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET on March 4, meaning it managed to crack the list with a little over a day of viewing. In addition, Netflix measures viewership for their lists via hours watched, which heavily favors longer shows; as a comedy special, “Selective Outrage’s” total runtime amounts to a little over an hour.
Netflix did not release specific viewership numbers for “Selective Outrage” in advance. The streamer also did not state if the pre- and after- shows exclusive to the live “Selective Outrage” debut were counted towards its viewership totals.
“Selective Outrage” was announced by Netflix last November, as the streamer’s first ever live broadcast. Rock performed his set at Baltimore, Maryland’s Hippodrome Theatre, with the show appearing like any Netflix title available to be watched on the streamer’s interface. The pre-show and after-show were hosted at Los Angeles’ Comedy Store, with Ronny Chieng presenting the pre-show and David Spade and Dana Carvey presenting the after-show; Amy Schumer, Cedric the Entertainer, George Lopez, Ice-T, Jerry Seinfeld, Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart, Matthew McConaughey, Paul McCartney, Sarah Silverman, Tracy Morgan, Wanda Sykes, and Woody Harrelson, JB Smoove, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made appearances as special guests.
Despite attracting plenty of audience members, “Selective Outrage” received mixed reactions upon its premiere; IndieWire TV critic Ben Travers gave it a “C-” rating and wrote that the special “was in no way built to last. Half the jokes were obsolete before he finished saying them” and that its material “felt like top-of-mind observations, uninterested in deeper scrutiny or even overall cohesiveness.” The special also provoked reactions for some of Rock’s jokes at Smith over the much-talked about Oscars slap, which included claiming that he watched the star’s slavery drama “Emancipation” “just to see him get whooped.”