- There’s a popular rumour that the spark for the idea came about when Hastings rented the film Apolo 13 from video rental chain Blockbuster and returned it several days late, meaning he had to pay a 40-dollar fine. Co-founder Marc Randolph had a very different take, saying the story was a clever marketing ploy and “convenient fiction,” that illustrated why Netflix was a better choice than its video store competitors. Randolph recounts that he and Hastings wanted to start a company similar to Amazon.com.
- Netflix was established in 1997 primarily as a DVD subscription service in rivalry with Blockbuster. Netflix essentially aggregated physical DVDs into warehouses, then used the internet to deliver them to subscribers. In 1999 Netflix began offering an online subscription service. Subscribers chose movie and television titles from Netflix’s Web site; the shows were then mailed to customers in the form of DVDs, along with prepaid return envelopes, from one of more than 100 distribution centres. Although customers typically rented for a flat monthly fee as many movies per month as they wished, the number of DVDs in their possession at any one time was limited according to their subscription plans. Netflix had tens of thousands of movie titles in its catalog.
- Blockbuster’s CEO John Antioco was approached in 2000 by Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings about forming a partnership with their company. Reed proposed to them that they would run Blockbusters brand online and in return, Blockbusters runs the Netflix brand through their stores, but then John Antioco just laughed in their face. But who’s the last one laughing now? Netflix is now a nationwide brand, while Blockbuster had to file for bankruptcy.
- Beginning in 2013 with the episodic drama series House of Cards, the company offered video content produced specifically for its streaming service. Such content became a major focus of Netflix, and by the end of 2018 it offered approximately 1,000 original titles. Its notable series included Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Stranger Things, Narcos, and The Crown. It also produced numerous movies—notably Roma (2018), which won three Academy Awards, including best foreign language film.
- On average, Netflix users spend less than two minutes browsing. In 2016, Netflix analyzed how long it took the average user to select a movie or a show. According to the study, most people browsed for just 60 to 90 seconds before giving up. During that window, users typically looked at 10 to 20 titles.
- Netflix houses massive amounts of server space to feed our streaming habits. In 2013 Netflix required massive amounts of fast storage and fast networking for streaming. At that time, it had 100 to 150 terabytes per server, which has undoubtedly grown massively since then. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings stated in 2015 that users had streamed 42.5 billion hours of video through the service. As of 2020, Netflix users watched an average of 3.2 hours of video per day through the service — that’s 6 billion collective hours per month! If we assume that each hour of streaming uses 3GB of data, this means we’re each using around 288 GB per month on Netflix alone. Of course, this assumes you’re watching HD video; if you prefer to stream in 4K, your data usage will likely be significantly higher.
- The 2020 Coronavirus pandemic caused an unprecedented amount of Netflix streaming. In a letter to shareholders, Netflix revealed that it had gained an additional 15.77 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2020 alone as billions of people around the world were forced into quarantine and social distancing.
A key fact: Netflix was forced to reduce streaming quality in several countries to help reduce strain on overtaxed bandwidth.