When everything in pop culture can claim to be a smash, is anything?
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Orange Is the New Black is a hit, a smash. At least that’s what Netflix says and how media outlets–CNN, the Washington Post and this magazine included–have labeled it. But is it actually a hit? And how much did it smash?
The world may never know. Orange is streamed online and not rated by Nielsen. No one outside Netflix knows how many people watch it. We can guess by its buzz, but buzz can be misleading (or can be created by the same media coverage that claims to measure it). Outsiders have tried to measure Netflix audiences by studying Internet traffic the day shows debut, like astronomers detecting planets by analyzing the light from distant stars.