Blog Post

Angel of Death (Keeps) Killing with 4.7M Views

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Crackle.com‘s high-profile action web series Angel of Death has generated 4.7 million views since it debuted on March 2, according to a Crackle representative. Angel of Death, which cost roughly $1 million to produce, was notable because it was written by famed comics writer Ed Brubaker (our earlier interview with him embedded here) and featured star Zoe Bell of Death Proof.

During a recent interview with comic book podcast iFanboy, Brubaker said Angel of Death had been seen by “7 million people.” This was kind of vague, so we contacted the folks at Crackle who said Brubaker misspoke, and provided the more specific, yet completely different metric of 4.7 million total views.

Knowing how easy it can be to fudge web series numbers, we asked Crackle for the individual episode view breakdowns. Crackle declined, but Visible Measures, with their online video tracking kung-fu (involving publicly available Crackle feeds), provided the following breakdown of Angel of Death views on Crackle:

Episode 1: 950,000
Episode 2: 675,000
Episode 3: 625,000
Episode 4: 525,000
Episode 5: 275,000
Episode 6: 350,000
Episode 7: 800,000
Episode 8: 100,000
Episode 9: 300,000
Episode 10: 200,000

Crackle wouldn’t confirm Visible Measures’ numbers — but those stats (adding up to 4.8 million) are pretty close to Crackle’s own numbers, and pretty decent for a drama series on the web. As with many web shows Angel of Death started off strong, but unlike other shows it retained more than half a million plays through the first four episodes.

Quarterlife had a much bigger publicity blitz and dropped from more than 800,000 plays for its debut to roughly 105,000 for its second episode during its first month. And the first episode of Sorority Forever, which starred web celeb Jessica Rose, was seen by 1.2 million people during its first week. The WB didn’t release updated stats as the weeks went on, but the show never crossed the 290,000 plays threshhold over on MySpace, with most episodes only pulling in five-figure audiences. Other series like Prom Queen and lonelygirl have experienced erratic traffic patterns.

Success metrics for a dramatic web series should be different than a flash-in-the-pan phenom like Susan Boyle, or even a comedy series that doesn’t have an ongoing narrative. Just like with oldteevee, an important gauge for a web series isn’t just who shows up once, but who gets so engaged that they keep coming back. While Angel of Death certainly tapered off, it’s a strong showing and I wouldn’t be surprised if Crackle reunites the team for an Angel of Death 2.

18 Responses to “Angel of Death (Keeps) Killing with 4.7M Views”

  1. Zoë fan

    “Crackle shut off international views because web series are bought internationally and they would lose money to just give it away.”

    There are only a handful of web series that I am aware of, can you name one that was marketed regionally? The problem is that the media barrons keep thinking old school and try to apply their DVD region locking and other marketing nonsense to the internet. It doesn’t make sense anymore, at least not online.

    My math shows as of this Sunday it just broke 5 million views. Keep in mind other than the Comic Con announcement, there was ZERO promotion for this series outside of Crackle. Just a press release and a few bloggers wrote about it.

    So perhaps the 5 million views should not be measured against the USA population but just the Crackle membership. So how many members does Crackle have? By looking at a fresh membership number, it seems to be less than 3 million.

    There are many millions of international Xena fans and many of them know Zoe as Lucy’s stuntwoman, heck Lucy is in the series – yet Sony did not try to cross promote to that fan base. It was idiotic.

  2. @Chris Albrecht

    Well, after reading lots of your reviews of shows that have had success, I’ve only noticed you bag them and not praise them, especially the classic shows without big backing like the It’s All In Your Hands shows and early Big Fantastic works. Regardless of big backing or not, web series are still a new thing to people, and they don’t understand them yet. 100,000 views an episode is pretty good, some cable shows barely get that. As a new media writer, I think you should encourage web series creators more than bash them, which I’d say if you went back and looked you do more than you don’t.

  3. Well, I think 4.7 M views will translate to DVD numbers rather well. If they get 100K discs shipped to stores they will be very happy.

    I am sure they are already are in the black as they probably have some deals from MipTV and Cannes to cover the raw production costs.

  4. Chris Albrecht

    @Justin,

    Dang, dude. I even said Angel of Death “Killed” in the headline. That’s pretty positive.

    While I think the industry still needs to develop a standard set of success metrics — I don’t think creating a blanket statement like 100,000 views is the way to go.

    AoD features a high-profile writer and a (somewhat) famous person in the lead and the backing of a big studio. I think it’s okay to have higher expectations for that than a homegrown drama series without such perks.

  5. @Zoe fan – Crackle shut off international views because web series are bought internationally and they would lose money to just give it away.

    @DP81 It’s hard to sustain an audience on 1 portal, had Crackle proliferated AoD to other platforms they may have had 5 times the views. That being said, I’m sure Sony has planned their release so that they can still send the show out to other formats.

    @Chris Albrecht Any web series that can get more than 100,000 views an episode should be considered a success story. To get 200,000+ is fantastic. You should write more about that than the negative like you always do when a web series has any success. I don’t think you’ve ever written a positive review of a series.

  6. Zoë fan

    Keep in mind hat Crackle/Sony shot themselves in the foot over Angel of Death on Crackle because after the first day they blocked ALL international access (unlike every other video on Crackle).

    So the 5 million views are USA audience only. Plenty of non-USA people are very unhappy with that and it ruins the whole “first series made for online” claims. Could easily be 10 million+ views now.

    Also the stats are publicly viewable, email me if you want to know how.

  7. Im a bit surprised the viewers dropped off so dramatically. I thought it was a good series and from a pure production metric, probably the best the web has seen.

    Per monetization discussion, I hope they at least broke even so that more high quality web series like AoD will continue to be made. I watched the entire series at one sitting and for whatever reason, I saw few ads (didnt get one for each episode). It did lead me to check out other Crackle shows though and I was impressed. Sony might have something here if they continue to supply quality content.

  8. I’d be interested to know how much money they make per episode (ie count up the pre-roll/overlay/postroll/display ads), apply an average CPM, and see how much money each episode made vs how much it cost to make.

    In the long run it’s about revenue and profit, not just raw viewer numbers…

    • Chris Albrecht

      @Jim,

      That would indeed be good to know (maybe we can get the three of us on a conference call :) ). The ads are just one piece as I believe AoD will also be packaged for sale on DVD, so we’ll need to see those numbers as well if that happens.

  9. Hmm. I enjoy this series, but it’s strange to me that episode one has nearly 1MM views yet only 65 comments. The following episodes have even fewer comments. Exactly where are all these views occurring? Are they even user-initiated streams?