Netflix is taking over the entertainment world, upsetting the apple cart of network and then cable TV that’s been as entrenched and slow moving as a glacier over the last 60 years. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, Netflix is a media content service that allows customers to watch what they want, when they want, by streaming online. Customers can watch movies, documentaries, TV shows, and original content, as many times as they want without restriction. Here’s the best part: there are no in-movie ads, popups, or commercials with Netflix. And with the average network one hour television show containing 36% commercial time, it’s no wonder why Netflix’s popularity has skyrocketed recently, especially with the release of the their own original shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.
In fact, the networks and cable TV studios are terrified, scrambling to figure out how they can keep up or adapt before they become dinosaurs. That’s going to be difficult, because Netflix has essentially found a way to deliver the full spectrum of content at the viewer’s fingertips, available on their television, computer, tablet, gaming device, or even smartphone. It’s democratized television the same way digital music files and file-sharing services changed music.
Netflix’s original content bonanza might really signal the inevitable extinction of the traditional television model. Instead of running a pilot show and measuring the viewership based on antiquated methods and making the decisions whether to run the show for a full season based on that data, Netflix signs hot talent and give them the leeway to really express their vision, signing for 2 seasons to start. This allows top producers and writers to sink their teeth into the storylines and character development, adding a layer of depth and subtlety into hour-long shows that make them watch more like movies. And one of the best parts of Netflix is that they do little advertising to promote their own shows – that job falls on the viewers, who inevitably spread the word about their favorite shows via social media
Here are some fascinating facts about Netflix:
Netflix is now worth an estimated $20 billion and makes around $6 billion a year.
Yet at $7.99 per month, it’s only about 20% the cost of the average cable TV subscription.
Its streaming service is available in about 50 countries, though it is blocked for would-be users in the other countries. Netflix does this by reading a user’s IP address location.
Netflix now has about 62 million paid accounts, though there’s usually more than one user per account. In comparison, the U.S., traditional cable services have about 33 million subscribers total.
Users watch about 100 million total hours of streamed content every day.
The average Netflix subscriber watches about 90 minutes every day.
Netflix is responsible for a new word in our lexicon, which will most certainly be an official addition to the dictionary one day soon: binge-watching.
It’s reported that at least 60% of Netflix subscribers binge-watched shows at least every few weeks.
Netflix categories go far beyond Drama, Romance, and Comedy. In fact, there are over 76,000 categories for movies and content, including the odd-ball genres of “Cool Moustaches,” ““Imaginative Time Travel Movies from the 1980s,” “Mind-bending Romantic Foreign Movies,” and “Movies That Are English But Still Require Subtitles”.
How much data does Netflix hold and distribute? Over one petabyte of data, which is the equivalent of 1,024 terabytes or 1,048,576 gigabytes. Wow!
Netflix original shows like House of Cards, Orange is The New Black, Daredevil, and many others have vaulted the streaming video service to new heights.
Netflix even signed a deal wit Marvel Television in 2013, which allows them to produce four series with Marvel superheroes and then united them in a mini-series called The Defenders.
To date, Netflix has produced 66 original programs, including those popular series but also feature-length films, continuations, comedy specials, and documentaries.
The most viewed show in the history of Netflix is Breaking Bad. Even though the show debuted as an original series on AMC on traditional TV, Netflix can be credited with its popularity. In fact, the show had good but not spectacular ratings until it was available on Netflix to stream. After that, viewers spread the word via Facebook and Twitter and the show’s popularity grew like wildfire.
The same can be said of The Walking Dead, an AMC original that Netflix transformed into a cultural phenomenon.
The inspiration for Netflix came to the company CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings in 1997 after he was charged a $40 late for returning a VHS copy of Apollo 13 late to a video store.
It started as a mail-order alternative to Blockbuster, mailing DVDs without the challenge of late fees, not as its replacement, because the technology didn’t exist yet for easy streaming services.
Netflix may seem like an overnight success, but in fact it’s been around longer than Google, which came out a year later in 1998.
Blockbuster actually put the nail in its own coffin. In 2000, they were offered the opportunity to buy Netflix for a mere $50 million, but they declined with no counteroffer.
In a lot of countries, Netflix is the biggest user of Internet traffic, usually neck-and-neck with YouTube. In the U.S., Netflix consumers about one third of all Internet usage during prime time hours!
That’s why you’ll notice the video quality is worse during prime time hours, usually around 7pm-9pm.
Netflix is actually becoming a popular avenue to revive shows that have been cancelled from network TV and cable. Arrested Development got a second life on Netflix, and the studios are considering additional off-TV seasons for Prison Break, 24, and the X-Files.
Netflix may be a household name now, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, naming the company was a big ordeal with lots of debate. At times, the company was slated to be called Directpix.com, Luna.com, Replay.com, and Kibble.com actually was written in on their original incorporation documents.
The company headquarters is in Las Gatos, California.
Jobs at Netflix are highly coveted. Employees actually can take as many days off as they want as long as they schedule ahead of time and their work doesn’t suffer. “It’s about freedom and responsibility and treating people like adults,” the spokesperson for Netflix said.
But that’s not where they keep all the DVDs that they still send out to customers with their mail-order delivery service. The location of that warehouse is kept a tight secret. Employees are sworn to secrecy and Netflix delivery trucks roll undercover and unmarked. Reportedly, this anonymity isn’t just about security measures to keep them from getting robbed, but they want to avoid customers showing up and trying to return their DVDs by hand.
Netflix may be on top of the streaming on-demand content world now, but they have competition. Hulu, Amazon, and Google are their main competitors with their own growing streaming content services, and illegal downloaders offer significant competition as well. Overstock.com is actually looking to jump aggressively into the streaming media space.
Netflix’s unique horizontally scrolling movie library is no small endeavor. They actually suggest content to you based on complex algorithms, and spend $150 million every year to improve the system of offerings. Netflix has found that people chose their movie within 2 minutes or leave the site if they don’t find something they like.
Netflix won a Golden Globe award in 2014, as House of Cards’ Robin Wright won Best Actress in a drama television. That was the first original programming service to win a major television award.