Netflix

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Netflix, Inc.
Type Public
Traded as NASDAQNFLX
S&P 500 Component
Industry Video rental and Streaming
Founded 19971
Headquarters Los Gatos, California, United States
Area served United States
Canada
Mexico
South America
United Kingdom
Ireland
Netherlands
Nordic countries
Key people Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO
David Wells, CFO
Neil Hunt, CTO
Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer
Products Video streaming, online DVD and Blu-ray Disc rental
Revenue Increase US$4.37 billion (FY 2013)2
Operating income Increase US$228 million (FY 2013)2
Net income Increase US$112 million (FY 2013)2
Total assets
  • Increase US$ 5.412563 billion (2013) 3
  • Increase US$ 3.96789 billion (2012) 3
Total equity Increase US$1.33 billion (FY 2013)2
Employees Decrease 2,022 full-time (FY 2013)2
Website www.netflix.com

Netflix, Inc. is an American provider of on-demand Internet streaming media available to viewers in North and South America, the Caribbean, and parts of Europe (Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom), and of flat rate DVD-by-mail in the United States, where mailed DVDs are sent via Permit Reply Mail. The company was established in 1997 and is headquartered in Los Gatos, California. It started its subscription-based digital distribution service in 1999,4 and by 2009 it was offering a collection of 100,000 titles on DVD and had surpassed 10 million subscribers.

On February 25, 2007, Netflix announced its billionth DVD delivery.5 In April 2011, Netflix announced 23.6 million subscribers in the United States and over 26 million worldwide.6 By 2011, the total digital revenue for Netflix reached at least $1.5 billion.7 On October 23, 2012, however, Netflix reported an 88% fall in third-quarter profits.8 In January 2013, Netflix reported they had added 2 million U.S. customers during the 4th quarter of 2012 with a total of 27.1 million U.S. streaming customers, and 29.4 million total streaming customers. In addition, revenue was up 8% to $945 million for the same period.9

As of mid-March 2013, Netflix had 33 million subscribers.10 That number increased to 36.3 million subscribers (29.2 million in U.S.) in April 2013.11 As of September 2013, Netflix Q3 2013, Netflix reported global streaming subscribers at 40.4 million (31.2 million in U.S.).12 By Q4 2013, Netflix reported 33.1 million U.S. subscribers.13

On January 16, 2014, the nomination of The Square (2013) for an Academy Award became the first ever nomination for a Netflix original production.1415

History

Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos

Netflix was founded in 1997 in Scotts Valley, California by Marc Randolph1617 and Reed Hastings, who previously had worked together at Pure Software. Randolph was a co-founder of a computer mail order company by the name of MicroWarehouse. Later he was employed by Borland International as vice-president of marketing. Hastings, once a math teacher, had founded Pure Software, which he had recently sold for $700 million. Hastings invested $2.5 million in start up cash for Netflix.18 The idea of Netflix came to Hastings when he was forced to pay $40 in overdue fines after returning Apollo 13 well past its due date.19 The Netflix website was launched on August 29, 199720 with only 30 employees and 925 works available for rent and brought a more traditional, online pay-per-rental model (US .50c per rental US postage; late fees applied).21 Netflix introduced the monthly subscription concept in September 1999,22 and then dropped the single-rental model in early 2000. Since that time the company has built its reputation on the business model of flat-fee unlimited rentals without due dates, late fees, shipping and handling fees, or per title rental fees.

Netflix was offered to Blockbuster for $50 million in 2000, but Blockbuster declined.

Netflix initiated an initial public offering (IPO) on May 29, 2002, selling 5.5 million shares of common stock at the price of US $15.00 per share. On June 14, 2002, the company sold an additional 825,000 shares of common stock at the same price. After incurring substantial losses during its first few years, Netflix posted its first profit during fiscal year 2003, earning US $6.5 million profit on revenues of US $272 million.

In 2005, 35,000 different film titles were available, and Netflix shipped 1 million DVDs out every day.23

Netflix developed and maintains an extensive personalized video-recommendation system based on ratings and reviews by its customers. On October 1, 2006, Netflix offered a $1,000,000 prize to the first developer of a video-recommendation algorithm that could beat its existing algorithm, Cinematch, at predicting customer ratings by more than 10%.24

In February 2007, the company delivered its billionth DVD25 and began to move away from its original core business model of mailing DVDs by introducing video on demand via the Internet. Netflix grew while DVD sales fell from 2006 to 2011.2627

Netflix has played a prominent role in independent film distribution. Through a division called Red Envelope Entertainment, Netflix licensed and distributed independent films such as Born into Brothels and Sherrybaby. As of late 2006, Red Envelope Entertainment also expanded into producing original content with filmmakers such as John Waters.28 Netflix closed Red Envelope Entertainment in 2008, in part to avoid competition with its studio partners.2930

Netflix has been one of the most successful dot-com ventures. A September 2002 article from The New York Times said that at the time, Netflix mailed about 190,000 discs per day to its 670,000 monthly subscribers.31 The company's published subscriber count increased from one million in the fourth quarter of 2002 to around 5.6 million at the end of the third quarter of 2006, to 14 million in March 2010. Netflix's growth has been fueled by the fast spread of DVD players in households; as of 2004, nearly two-thirds of U.S. homes had a DVD player. Netflix capitalized on the success of the DVD and its rapid expansion into U.S. homes, integrating the potential of the Internet and e-commerce to provide services and catalogs that brick and mortar retailers could not compete with. Netflix also operates an online affiliate program which has helped it to build online sales for DVD rentals. The company offers unlimited vacation time for salaried workers and allows employees to take any amount of their paychecks in stock options.32

By 2010, Netflix's streaming business had grown so quickly that within months the company had shifted from the fastest-growing customer of the United States Postal Service's first-class mail service to the biggest source of Internet traffic in North America in the evening. In November of that year it began offering a standalone streaming service separate from DVD rentals.33 On September 18, 2011, Netflix announced its intentions to re-brand and re-structure its DVD home media rental service as an independent subsidiary company called Qwikster, totally separating DVD rentals and streaming.343536 Andy Rendich, a 12-year veteran of Netflix, would have been the CEO of Qwikster. The new service would carry video games whereas Netflix did not.37 Then, in October 2011, Netflix announced that it would retain its DVD service under the name Netflix and would not, in fact, create Qwikster for that purpose.38

On October 24, 2011, Netflix announced it lost 800,000 US subscribers in the third quarter of 2011 and more subscriber losses were expected in the fourth quarter of 2011. Despite the losses, earnings for Netflix jumped 63 percent for the third quarter of 2011.3940

On January 26, 2012, Netflix said it added 610,000 subscribers in the US by the end of the fourth quarter of 2011. The company announced it had 24.4 million US subscribers for this time period.41

In April 2012, Netflix filed with the FEC to form a political action committee (PAC) called FLIXPAC.42 Politico referred to the Los Gatos, California-based PAC as "another political tool with which to aggressively press a pro-intellectual property, anti-video piracy agenda."42 The hacktivist group Anonymous called for a boycott of Netflix following the news.43 Netflix spokesperson Joris Evers indicated that the PAC was not set up to support SOPA and PIPA, tweeting that the intent was to "engage on issues like net neutrality, bandwidth caps, UBB and VPPA."4445

On December 24, 2012, at around 1 pm, a number of Amazon Web Services servers crashed affecting numerous services including Netflix "instant streaming". The outage lasted more than 20 hours.4647

In February 2013, Netflix announced it would be hosting its own awards ceremony, The Flixies.48 On March 13, 2013, Netflix announced it is adding a Facebook sharing feature to the Netflix interface, letting subscribers in the U.S. see "Watched by your friends" and "Friends' Favorites" once they agree to share.49 This was not legal until the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act was modified at the beginning of 2013.50 In November, it was announced that Disney and Marvel TV will provide Netflix with live action series, beginning in 2015, featuring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage, leading up to a miniseries about the Defenders.5152

In April 2014, Netflix approached 50 million global subscribers with a 32.3 percent video streaming market share in the United States. Netflix operates in 41 countries total.53

In June 2014, Netflix released a redesigned version of their logo and website UI. The change was controversial; some liked the new minimalist design, whereas others felt more comfortable with the old interface.54

International

September 22, 2010 Netflix launched their streaming-only service in Canada, thus marking their first expansion into international markets.55 Then, in spring 2011, Netflix announced their entrance into the Latin American market by the end of the year and then again into the European market in the following year starting with Spain56 although this ultimately proved to be false. Subsequently, Netflix completed the launch of streaming-content services in Latin America in September 2011 by launching in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America.

On January 9, 2012, Netflix was officially launched as a streaming-only service in the United Kingdom and Ireland.5758 In 2012, Netflix reached the one million member milestone in the two countries.58 By September 2013, Netflix had added content from the Channel 4, ITV and BBC networks59

On August 15, 2012, Netflix announced further expansion by rolling out its services to Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland before the end of 2012.60 The service was launched on October 18, 2012.61

Netflix announced on June 19, 2013 that the company would expand its service to the Netherlands by late 2013. Further details on the service in this area, such as prices and content, would be released at a later time.62 The service was launched in the Netherlands on September 11, 201363 and the company’s Vice President of Content Acquisition, Kelly Merryman, revealed that shows that perform well on BitTorrent networks and other pirate sites are more likely to be offered as part of the expansion. Netflix's CEO further explained that illegal downloading helps to create demand, as users may switch to legal services for an improved user experience.6465

On May 21, 2014, Netflix announced its intention to expand and launch in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium and Luxembourg.66

In June 2014, rumors surfaced from Australian film industry magazine Inside Film that Netflix was seeking the Australasian rights for various films and TV shows, with plans to launch in Australia and New Zealand in the first quarter of 2015. A Netflix spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.67

Services

Netflix is a subscription-based movie and television show rental service that offers media to subscribers via Internet streaming and via US mail.

Internet video streaming

In addition to Netflix's disc rental service, Netflix separately offers an Internet video streaming service, which gives internet-connected devices access to Netflix's online content library. The two libraries are also notably different, with the disc library having more movie titles available,68 while the streaming library has more Netflix original content. And among competing video streaming services, Netflix is probably the most widely supported among compatible devices. According to a 2013 report by Sandvine, Netflix is the biggest source of North American downstream web traffic, at 32.3%, and registered 28.8% of aggregate traffic.69

When the streaming service first launched, Netflix's traditional rental-disc subscribers were given access at no additional charge. Subscribers were allowed approximately one hour of streaming per dollar spent on the monthly subscription. (A $16.99 plan, for example, entitled the subscriber to 17 hours of streaming media.)

In January 2008, however, Netflix lifted this restriction, at which point virtually all rental-disc subscribers were entitled to unlimited streaming at no additional cost. (However, subscribers on the restricted plan of two DVDs per month ($4.99) were still limited to two hours of streaming per month.) This change was a response to the introduction of Hulu and to Apple's new video rental services.70 Subsequently, as it became clear that disc-rental and internet streaming markets were distinct, Netflix split DVD rental subscriptions and streaming subscriptions into separate, standalone services, at which point the monthly caps on internet streaming were lifted.

Netflix does not officially support playback on Linux PCs although the Linux-based Roku devices are supported. It is possible to connect the Roku device, game console, or Blu-ray Disc player to a Linux PC (or directly to the computer monitor) with an adapter. It is also possible to run Windows and Netflix in a virtual machine such as Virtualbox or QEMU. In a TechRepublic interview in August 2010, Netflix's VP of Corporate Communications stated that available Silverlight plugins for Linux, such as Moonlight, do not support the PlayReady DRM system that Netflix requires for playback.71 Netflix does support the Android operating system, which uses a forked version of the Linux kernel. There is an unofficial Netflix app based on Wine that allows watching Netflix on Linux without installing Windows in a virtual machine. Pipelight, an addon for Firefox based on the Netflix-Desktop project allows Netflix playback through Linux Native web browsers by connecting to the Silverlight plug-in running on a Wine base.72

The selection of available titles is based upon the user's IP address. For most users, this corresponds to the user's physical location. However, it means that, for example, a user in Canada who is accessing the Internet through a U.S.-based router connection will see the selection available to U.S. users.

According to a survey by Nielsen in July 2011, 42% of all Netflix users make use of a stand-alone computer to connect to Netflix, 25% do so by using the Wii, 14% by connecting their computers to a TV, 13% make use of a PlayStation 3 and 12% use an Xbox 360.73

History

On October 1, 2008, Netflix announced a partnership with Starz Entertainment to bring 2,500+ new movies and television shows to Watch Instantly in what is being called Starz Play.74

In August 2010, Netflix announced it had reached a five-year deal worth nearly $1 billion to stream movies from Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM. The deal increased the amount Netflix was spending on streaming movies annually and adds roughly $200 million per year. It spent $117 million in the first six months of 2010 on streaming, up from $31 million in 2009.75

As of 2011, Netflix's "Watch Instantly" service holds first-run rights to films from Paramount Pictures, MGM, Lions Gate Entertainment (through an output deal with Epix), along with back-catalog titles to films from Time Warner, Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, MGM, Lions Gate Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Disney, and other distributors. Netflix also provides current and back-catalog TV programs distributed by NBC Universal, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Disney-ABC Domestic Television, with select shows from Warner Bros. as well. Netflix also previously held the rights to select titles from the Criterion Collection, but those were pulled from the streaming library when Criterion titles were added to Hulu's Hulu Plus streaming library.76 Netflix has "pay TV window" deals with Relativity Media, FilmDistrict, and Open Road Films.77

On July 12, 2011, Netflix announced that it would separate the current subscription plans into two separate plans: one covering the instant streaming and the other DVD rental.78 The cost for streaming would be $7.99 while DVD rental would start at the same price. The announcement led to a flurry of negative reception amongst Netflix's Facebook followers, posting negative comments on the company's wall.79 Twitter comments also spiked a "Dear Netflix" trend with generally negative comments as well.79 The company defended its decision during its initial announcement of the change. "Given the long life we think DVDs by mail will have, treating DVDs as a $2 add-on to our unlimited streaming plan neither makes great financial sense nor satisfies people who just want DVDs," Netflix wrote on its blog. "Creating an unlimited-DVDs-by-mail plan (no streaming) at our lowest price ever, $7.99, does make sense and will ensure a long life for our DVDs-by-mail offering."78

In a reversal, Netflix announced in October 2011 that its streaming and DVD-rental plans would remain together under the Netflix brand.80

On September 1, 2011, Starz announced it would remove their movies from Netflix streaming on February 28, 2012. Since the agreement was strictly for streaming movie titles, DVD rentals through Netflix were not affected.81 However, around that same time, it was announced Netflix would, in 2013, assume the pay-TV rights to films from DreamWorks Animation (those output rights are currently held by HBO).

Disc rental

Example of a Netflix DVD rental of Kill Bill. Discs are returned in the same envelopes they are sent to customers.

In the United States, the company provides a monthly flat-fee service for the rental of DVD and Blu-ray Discs. A subscriber creates an ordered list, called a rental queue, of movies to rent. The movies are delivered individually via the United States Postal Service from an array of regional warehouses. As of March 28, 2011, Netflix had 58 shipping locations throughout the U.S.82 The subscriber can keep the rented movie as long as desired, but there is a limit on the number of movies (determined by subscription level) that each subscriber can have on loan simultaneously. To rent a new movie, the subscriber must mail the previous one back to Netflix in a metered reply mail envelope. Upon receipt of the disc, Netflix ships the next available disc in the subscriber's rental queue.

Netflix offers several pricing tiers for DVD rental of one to three DVDs at a time. Subscribers with accounts in good standing can upgrade to plans offering up to eight DVDs at a time. Gift subscriptions are also available. Since November 21, 2008, Netflix has offered their subscribers access to Blu-ray Discs for an additional fee.

In addition to its movie rental service, Netflix formerly sold used movies. The purchase was delivered via the same system and billed using the same payment methods as rentals. This service was discontinued at the end of November 2008.83

Starting January 6, 2010, Netflix reached an agreement with Warner Brothers Pictures to delay renting new releases for 28 days from their retail release in an attempt to help studios sell more physical media at retail outlets. A similar deal with Universal Studios and Twentieth Century Fox was reached on April 9, 2010.848586

In 2011, Netflix split its service pricing so that customers can decide whether they want to pay for online streams, access to DVDs by mail, or both.

Qwikster

On September 18, 2011, Netflix CEO and Co-Founder Reed Hastings said in a Netflix blog post that the DVD section of Netflix would be split off and renamed Qwikster, and the only major change would be separate websites for the services.87 The new service was to also carry video games for an additional charge, whereas the previous Netflix did not.37 Netflix subscribers who wanted DVDs by mail would have had to use a separate website to access Qwikster.

On October 10, 2011, following negative reaction from customers, Hastings announced the cancellation of the planned Qwikster service and said the DVD-by-mail service would remain a part of Netflix.88

Profiles

In June 2008, Netflix announced plans to eliminate its online subscriber profile feature.89 Profiles allow one subscriber account to contain multiple users (e.g., husband and wife, or two roommates) with separate DVD queues, ratings, recommendations, friend lists, reviews, and intra-site communications for each. Netflix contended that elimination of profiles would improve the customer experience.90 However, likely as a result of negative reviews and reaction by Netflix users,919293 Netflix reversed its decision to remove profiles 11 days after its announcement.94 In announcing the reinstatement of profiles, Netflix defended its original decision, stating, "Because of an ongoing desire to make our website easier to use, we believed taking a feature away that is only used by a very small minority would help us improve the site for everyone," then explained its reversal: "Listening to our members, we realized that users of this feature often describe it as an essential part of their Netflix experience. Simplicity is only one virtue and it can certainly be outweighed by utility."95

Programming

Original programming

In March 2011, Netflix announced plans to begin acquiring original content for its popular subscription streaming service, beginning with the hour-long political drama House of Cards, which debuted on the streaming service in February 2013. The series was produced by David Fincher, with Kevin Spacey starring.96 In late 2011, Netflix picked up two eight-episode seasons of Lilyhammer and a fourth season of Arrested Development.9798 Netflix announced Hemlock Grove would air in early 2013.99 DreamWorks Animation and Netflix agreed to produce a new animated series called Turbo FAST, based on the movie Turbo, which premiered in July 2013.100101

House of Cards, Lilyhammer, Hemlock Grove, and Orange Is the New Black have all been renewed for another season and are scheduled to air on Netflix in 2014.102 In mid-2013, Netflix revealed that it holds the option to produce another season of Arrested Development, but a confirmed schedule was not released.103

In November 2013, Netflix and Marvel Television announced a five-season deal for four Marvel superheroes: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. The deal involves the broadcast of four 13-episode seasons that culminate in a mini-series called The Defenders. Broadcasting is planned to commence in 2015.104

In December 2013, Netflix announced that it acquired the exclusive rights to stream the anime series Knights of Sidonia in all its territories.105 The entire first season was released on Netflix one week after ending its run in Japan on July 4, 2014 and a second season is in production.

In February 2014, Netflix renewed House of Cards for a third season scheduled to air in 2015 and released the second season of the show.106

In addition to the Marvel Television deal with Netflix, The Walt Disney Company announced that the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars would release its sixth and final season exclusively on Netflix, as well as the previous five seasons and the Clone Wars feature film. The new content was released on Netflix's streaming service March 7, 2014.107

In April 2014, Netflix signed Mitch Hurwitz and The Hurwitz Company to a multi-year deal to create original projects.108

Movie and TV library

Netflix currently has exclusive pay-TV deals with major and mini-major movie studios. Films featured on Watch Instantly include recent releases from Relativity Media (and its subsidiary Rogue Pictures),109 as well as titles from DreamWorks Animation (DreamWorks Animation began streaming their films in 2013 after the expiration of HBO's previous deal with the studio),110 Open Road Films111 (Netflix contract with Open Road Films will expire after 2016, at which time Showtime assumed pay-TV rights.112), FilmDistrict,113 The Weinstein Company,114115 Sony Pictures Animation,116 and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (including Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disneynature, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios), among others.

Epix signed a five-year streaming deal with Netflix where for the first two years, Epix content was exclusive to Netflix (Epix films will come to Netflix 90 days after they premiere on Epix. The exclusive portion ended on September 4, 2012, when Amazon signed a deal with Epix to feature movies on their streaming service.117 These include films from Paramount Pictures, MGM and Lionsgate).118119 On September 1, 2011, Starz announced it had broken off talks with Netflix to renew its streaming deal. This meant any Starz movies and shows would be removed from Netflix streaming on February 28, 2012. Movie titles that are available on DVD are not affected and can be acquired from Netflix by this method.120 However, select movies that have previously been seen on Starz continue to be available on Netflix under license from their respective TV distributors. For instance, certain Revolution Studios films shown on Netflix are under license from Lionsgate/Debmar-Mercury. Netflix can also negotiate to get animated films from Universal Studios that HBO passed on, such as The Lorax and ParaNorman.121

Other studios providing content on Netflix under license include Disney–ABC Television Group, DreamWorks Classics, Kino International, Warner Bros. Television, 20th Television, Hasbro Studios, Saban Brands (with the MarVista Entertainment distribution) and CBS Television Distribution. On August 23, 2012, Netflix and The Weinstein Company sign a Multi-Year Output Deal for RADiUS-TWC.122

On December 4, 2012, Netflix and The Walt Disney Company announced an exclusive multi-year U.S. subscription television service agreement with Netflix for first run of Walt Disney Studios animated and live-action movies. New titles from Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Disneynature will be available from Netflix in 2016. However, classic titles such as Dumbo, Pocahontas and Alice in Wonderland were made available to Netflix immediately.123 Direct-to-video new releases were made available in 2013.124 The agreement came after Disney's announcement in November 2012, that it would be shutting down its web movie service Disney Movies Online on December 31, 2012.125

On January 14, 2013, Netflix signed an agreement with Time Warner subsidiaries Turner Broadcasting System and Warner Bros. Television to distribute content from Cartoon Network, Warner Bros. Animation and Adult Swim, as well as the 2012 Dallas TV series airing on TNT beginning in March 2013.126

Device support

Hardware supported

List of Netflix-ready devices:127

Software support

Supported Web Browsers by Platform:

Other software options:

Video game consoles

At E3 2008, Microsoft announced a deal to distribute Netflix videos over Xbox Live.148 This service was launched on November 19, 2008149 to Xbox 360 owners with a Netflix Unlimited subscription and an Xbox Live Gold subscription150 allowing them to stream movies and TV shows directly from their Netflix Instant Queue from an application on the Dashboard.151 Xbox Live's Party Mode had a popular feature where users could create a virtual party and bring their avatars to a virtual theater to watch Netflix simultaneously and even send comments and smiley faces to each other. This feature was discontinued on December 6, 2011.152

In October 2009, Sony Computer Entertainment and Netflix announced that the service would also be available on the PlayStation 3 from November 2009. The set-up was similar to that on the Xbox 360, allowing Netflix subscribers to stream movies and TV shows from their Instant Queue to watch on the console. Unlike on the Xbox 360, the Netflix application was originally available on a Blu-ray Disc (available free to subscribers). On October 19, 2010, a downloadable application was made available through the PlayStation Network.153 Users do not have to pay for use of the service other than the monthly Netflix subscription.154 In 2012, the PlayStation 3 became the device most used to watch Netflix.155

On January 13, 2010, Nintendo and Netflix announced that the service would become available on the Wii. This service was launched in Spring 2010. The service allows the console to stream content in a user's Instant Queue. Initially, a streaming disc specifically for the Wii was required along with an Internet connection to the console. Besides a Netflix account with unlimited streaming, there are no additional costs for the service. In contrast to the other two consoles, the Wii is not capable of HD resolution.156 The Wii streaming disc was released for testing to customers starting Thursday March 25, 2010, and was released to all registered Netflix members on April 12, 2010.157 On October 18, 2010, the streaming disc on the Wii was no longer necessary as Netflix became a free downloadable application on the Wii Shop Channel.

The Netflix service launched for the Nintendo 3DS on July 14, 2011.158

The Netflix application for PlayStation Vita was launched the same day the device launched on February 22, 2012, making it available for download via the PlayStation Store for free.159

The Wii's successor console, the Wii U, began supporting Netflix shortly after its North American release on November 18, 2012.160 Netflix was later embedded in the Wii U's own Nintendo TVii app the following March 2013.161

On November 15, 2013, the Playstation 4 was released in the United States. The Netflix app was downloadable from the Playstation Store on launch day.162

In November 22, 2013, Microsoft's Xbox One launched in the United States. Netflix became available for download shortly after its release.163

In 2014, Microsoft changed the terms for Xbox Live so that a Gold subscription is no longer needed to access Netflix and any other online streaming service on Xbox consoles, however, a Netflix subscription is still required.

Set-top boxes

In May 2008, Roku released the first set-top box, The Netflix Player by Roku, to stream Netflix's Instant Watch movies directly to televisions. The device provided unlimited access to the Netflix streaming media catalog for all subscribers.135

Blu-ray Disc players

On August 6, 2008, LG announced and demonstrated to the media the world's first Blu-ray Disc Player with embedded Netflix streaming service.164 The product was launched in U.S. stores later that month. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings stated in the announcement that "LG Electronics was the first of our technology partners to publicly embrace our strategy for getting the Internet to the TV, and is the first to introduce a Blu-ray player that will instantly stream movies and TV episodes from Netflix to the TV." Subsequently, Netflix agreed to instantly stream movies to two of Samsung's Blu-ray Disc players.165 They soon after announced a partnership to instantly stream movies to TiVo DVRs.166

Televisions

In January 2009, Netflix announced a similar partnership with Vizio and LG to instantly stream movies directly to their high definition televisions.167

In July 2009, Sony announced a partnership with Netflix that will enable Sony BRAVIA Internet Platforms to access instant queues for Netflix users. Any Netflix member with an Internet-enabled BRAVIA HDTV will be able to link up their account to their TV and stream videos from their queue.168

The 2010 line of Panasonic HDTVs with Viera Cast functionality gained the ability to stream Netflix content directly to the television.169

With 2010's release of the Google TV, Netflix streaming was a built-in application.

A Netflix application is available to download on Samsung Smart TV through the Samsung Apps Service, and is preloaded on higher-end sets.

Handheld devices

  • In September 2009, Hastings expressed his desire to expand his company's video-streaming service to Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch mobile devices, once the Xbox 360 exclusivity deal expires.170 In April 2010, the Netflix app debuted on the Apple's iTunes app store for use with the iPad.171 The version for iPod Touch and iPhone was released on August 26, 2010 via the App Store.146
  • Netflix is also available on Windows Phone devices.
  • On March 15, 2011, it was announced that Netflix was available for Android phones, but not all Android phones can use the application due to DRM issues.172 The DRM was later removed and the app now works on the majority of Android devices.
  • Nintendo announced that the Nintendo 3DS portable video game console would support Netflix video streaming in summer 2011.173
  • Netflix became available on July 14, 2011 on the 3DS, although no 3D content is available at this time.
  • In November 2011, Barnes & Noble began shipping Nook Tablets with the Netflix app preinstalled, and offering Netflix as an optional app for Nook Color devices.174
  • On January 9, 2012, Sony announced at CES 2012 that the PS Vita would have a Netflix app at launch on Feb 22, 2012.175176
  • A Sandvine report released in 2013 stated that the company's mobile data usage share doubled over a 12-month period in North America.177

Sales and marketing

The domain netflix.com attracted at least 194 million visitors annually by 2008, according to a Compete.com survey. This is about five times the number of visitors to blockbuster.com.178

During the first quarter of 2011, sales and rentals of packaged DVDs and Blu-ray Discs plunged about 20 percent, and the sell-through of packaged discs fell 19.99 percent to $2.07 billion, with more money spent on subscription rentals than in-store rentals.179

In July 2012 Netflix hired Kelly Bennett to become their new chief marketing officer. Bennett had previously been at Warner Bros. for almost a decade as the VP of Interactive, Worldwide Marketing. This also filled a vacancy at Netflix that had been empty for over six months when their previous CMO Leslie Kilgore left in January 2012.180

Expansion

On July 19, 2010 Netflix announced that in the fall of 2010 it would launch its instant streaming service in Canada, making Canada the first international market expansion for Netflix.181 On September 22, 2010, Netflix became available in Canada for $7.99/month, but with a severely limited selection.182

Netflix announced on July 5, 2011 that by the end of 2011 it would expand its services into 43 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean, offering items in English, Spanish and Portuguese.183 On September 5, Brazil became the first country in Latin America to introduce the service, followed by Argentina on September 7, Chile on September 8, Colombia on September 9 and Mexico on September 12, with the rest of the continent having the service in the next few weeks.when?

Netflix launched in the UK and Ireland on January 9, 2012184 and in The Netherlands on September 11, 2013.185

Competitors

Netflix's success was followed by the establishment of numerous other DVD rental companies, both in the United States and abroad. Wal-Mart began an online rental service in October 2002, but left the market in May 2005. However, they returned with their acquisition of the Vudu service in 2010.186

In 2005, Netflix cited Amazon.com as a potential competitor,187 which until 2008 offered online video rentals in the UK and Germany—this arm of the business was eventually sold to LoveFilm, but Amazon then bought LoveFilm in 2011.188 In addition, Amazon now streams movies and TV shows through Amazon Instant Video.189

Blockbuster Video entered the U.S. online market in August 2004, with a US$19.95 monthly subscription service. This sparked a price war; Netflix had raised its popular three-disc plan from US$19.95 to US$21.99 just prior to Blockbuster's launch, but by October, Netflix reduced this fee to US$17.99. Blockbuster responded with rates as low as US$14.99 for a time, but by August 2005, both companies settled at identical rates.citation needed On July 22, 2007, Netflix announced that it would drop the prices of its two most popular plans by US$1.00 in an effort to better compete with Blockbuster's online-only offerings.190 On October 4, 2012, Dish Network announced that it was scrapping plans to make Blockbuster into a Netflix competitor.191

Redbox is another competitor that uses a kiosk approach: Rather than mailing DVDs, customers pick up and return DVDs at self-service kiosks located in metropolitan areas. In September 2012, Coinstar, the owners of Redbox announced plans to partner with Verizon to launch Redbox Instant by Verizon by late 2012.192 In early 2013, Redbox Instant by Verizon began a limited beta release of their service,193 which was described by critics as "No netflix killer"194 due to "glitches [and] lackluster selection."195

Netflix and Blockbuster largely avoid offering pornography, but several "adult video" subscription services were inspired by Netflix, such as SugarDVD and WantedList.196197

Awards

On July 18, 2013 Netflix earned the first Primetime Emmy Award nominations for original online only web television at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards. Three of its web series, Arrested Development, Hemlock Grove, and House of Cards, earned a combined 14 nominations (9 for House of Cards, 3 for Arrested Development, and 2 for Hemlock Grove).198 The episode "Chapter 1" of House of Cards received four nominations for both the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards and 65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, becoming the first webisode of a television series to receive a major Primetime Emmy Award nomination: Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for David Fincher.198199 "Chapter 1" joined Arrested Development's "Flight of the Phoenix" and Hemlock Grove's "Children of the Night" as the first webisodes to earn Creative Arts Emmy Award nomination, and with its win for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series, "Chapter 1" became the first Emmy-awarded webisode.200201 Fincher's win for Directing for a Drama Series made the episode the first Primetime Emmy-awarded webisode.202

Year Series Category Recipient(s) Result Ref
2013
House of Cards
(season 1)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Kevin Spacey
Nominated
203204
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Robin Wright
Nominated
Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
David Fincher / "Chapter 1"
Won
Arrested Development
(season 4)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series205
Jason Bateman
Nominated
2013
House of Cards
(season 1)
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series
Eigil Bryld / "Chapter 1"
Won
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series
Kirk Baxter / "Chapter 1"
Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score)
Jeff Beal / "Chapter 1"
Nominated
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music
Jeff Beal
Nominated
Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series
Laray Mayfield/Julie Schubert
Won
Arrested Development
(season 4)
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series205
David Schwartz / "Flight of the Phoenix"
Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series205
Kabir Akhtar and AJ Dickerson / "Flight of the Phoenix"
Nominated
Hemlock Grove
(season 1)
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music
Nathan Barr
Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects205
"Children of the Night"
Nominated

On December 12, the network earned six Golden Globe Awards nominations for the 71st Golden Globe Awards, including 4 for House of Cards.206 Among those nominations was Wright for Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for her portrayal of Claire Underwood, which she won on January 12. In so doing she became the first actress to win a Golden Globe Award for an online-only web television series. It also marked Netflix' first major acting award.207208209

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref
2014
Golden Globe Awards
Best Television Series – Drama
Nominated
210
Best Actor – Television Series Drama Kevin Spacey Nominated
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Robin Wright Won
Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Corey Stoll Nominated

On July 10, 2014 Netflix received 31 Emmy nominations. House of Cards got nominations for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series and Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series, and other nominations. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Orange is the New Black got nominations for comedies, earning nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series. Taylor Schilling, Kate Mulgrew and Uzo Aduba were nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, respectfully.211

Time Warner

In a 2010 New York Times interview, Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes downplayed Netflix as a threat to more traditional media companies. "It's a little bit like, is the Albanian army going to take over the world?" Bewkes told the newspaper. "I don’t think so." At the same time, he recognized that the company's DVD service may have contributed to a decline in DVD sales, and regarding the industry's willingness to make special deals with Netflix in the future, he added, "This has been an era of experimentation, and I think it's coming to a close."212 Bewkes later refined his position, stating during a 2011 conference call that "Things like Netflix are welcome additions to the infrastructure. They can monetize value for companies like Warner that maybe there wasn’t – in terms of efficiency for older product, wasn’t as available before[...]Our view of Netflix has been very consistent. I’ve tried at times to be humorous about it, sometimes to make a point."213

After the contract with Viacom that allowed Netflix to instantly stream Nickelodeon & Nick Jr. programs expired, Netflix received a new contract from Time Warner that allowed them to instantly stream Cartoon Network & Adult Swim programs.

Finance and revenue

2010

In 2010, Netflix's stock price increased 219% to $175.70 and it added 8 million subscribers, bringing its total to 20 million. Revenue jumped 29% to $2.16 billion and net income was up 39% to $161 million.214

2011

In April 2011, Netflix was expected to earn $1.07 a share in the first quarter of 2011 on revenue of $705.7 million, a huge increase compared to the year-earlier profit of 59 cents on revenue of $493.7 million, according to a survey of 25 analysts polled by FactSet Research.215

At their peak, in July 2011, Netflix shares were trading for $299. Following the customer dissatisfaction and resulting loss of subscribers after the announcements by CEO Reed Hastings that streaming and DVD rental would be charged separately, leading to a higher price for customers who wanted both (on September 1), and that the DVD rental would be split off as the subsidiary Qwikster (on September 18), the share price fell steeply, to around $130.216217 However, on October 10, 2011 the CEO announced that the move to split the company would be scrapped. The reason being that "two websites would make things more difficult", he stated on the Netflix blog. On November 22, Netflix's share took a tumble, as share prices fell by as much as 7%.218 By December 2011, as a consequence of its decision to raise prices, Neflix had lost over 75% of its total value from the summer.219220 Describing their business model as "broken," Wedbush downgraded Netflix's stock rating to "underperform," the equivalent of sell.221

2014

In May 2014, Netflix announced "immediate fee increase for new UK subscribers".222 The price increase (+£1) took effect immediately for new subscribers but will be delayed for two years for existing members. Netflix applied similar increases in the US (+$1) and the Eurozone (+€1). According to Forbes magazine 223 "Netflix can add roughly $500 million in annual incremental revenues in the U.S. alone by 2017 with this move" and "roughly $200-$250 million in incremental revenues from price changes in international markets".

Legal issues and controversies

Recommendation algorithm and the "Netflix Prize"

In 2006, Netflix held the first Netflix Prize competition to find a better program to predict user preferences and beat its existing Netflix movie recommendation system, known as Cinematch, by at least 10%. CEO Reed Hastings did not necessarily expect a lot of quick progress towards the prize.224 "We thought we built the best darn thing ever," Hastings said.224 But by June 2007 Hastings said the competition is "three-quarters of the way there in three-quarters of a year."225 Three teams—an AT&T Research Team called BellKor, commendo's team BigChaos, and Pragmatic Theory—combined to win the 2009 grand prize competition for $1 million. The winning team, called BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos, used machine learning techniques to find that, for example, the rating system people use for older movies is very different from that used for a movie they just saw. The mood of the day made a difference also; for example, Friday ratings were different from Monday morning ratings.226

In 2010, Netflix canceled a running contest to improve the company's recommendation algorithm due to privacy concerns: under the terms of the competition, contestants were given access to customer rental data, which the company had purportedly anonymized. However, it was discovered that even this anonymized dataset could, in fact, identify a user personally. Netflix was sued by KamberLaw L.L.C. and ended the contest after reaching a deal with the FTC.227

Throttling of DVDs by mail

Netflix's allocation policy – referred to by many as "throttling" – gives priority shipping and selection to customers who rent fewer discs per month. Higher volume renters may see some of their selections delayed, routed elsewhere, or sent out of order.228

Netflix claims that "the large majority of our subscribers are able to receive their movies in about one business day following our shipment of the requested movie from their local distribution center."229 However, not all shipments come from the subscriber's local distribution center, and shipments from distant centers are often delayed, as well.

In September 2004, a consumer class action lawsuit, Frank Chavez v. Netflix, Inc.,230 was brought against Netflix in San Francisco Superior Court. The suit alleged false advertising in relation to claims of "unlimited rentals" with "one-day delivery." In January 2005, Netflix changed its Terms of Use to acknowledge what has commonly become known as "throttling". (Mike Kaltschnee, owner of the Hacking Netflix blog, says Netflix calls this practice "smoothing" internally.)231

In October 2005, Netflix proposed a settlement for those who had enrolled as a paid Netflix member prior to January 15, 2005. These earlier members would be able to renew their subscriptions with a one-month free membership, and those early members with current subscriptions would receive a one-month free upgrade to the next-highest membership level. Netflix's settlement denied allegations of any wrongdoing, and the case did not reach a legal judgment. Netflix estimated the settlement cost at approximately US$4 million, which included up to US$2.53 million to cover plaintiff lawyer fees. A controversial aspect of the settlement offer was that the customer's account would continue at the renewed or upgraded membership level after the free month provided by the settlement, with customers being charged accordingly unless they opted out after the month-long free period ended. After Trial Lawyers for Public Justice filed a challenge to the proposed settlement232 and the Federal Trade Commission filed an amicus brief urging the rejection or modification of the settlement, Netflix offered to alter the settlement terms requiring customers to actively approve any continuation after the free month. The final settlement hearing took place on March 22, 2006.233 Implementation of the settlement was delayed pending appeal the California Appellate Courts.234 The settlement was affirmed on April 21, 2008, with the court saying, "the trial court did not abuse its discretion in approving the amended class action settlement agreement, approving the notice given to class members, or determining the amount of fees."235 Interestingly, the court approved email notice and an online claims submission process.236 The court said:

The summary notice and long-form notice together provided all of the detail required by statute or court rule, in a highly accessible form. The fact that not all of the information was contained in a single e-mail or mailing is immaterial… Using a summary notice that directed the class member wanting more information to a Web site containing a more detailed notice, and provided hyperlinks to that Web site, was a perfectly acceptable manner of giving notice in this case… The class members conducted business with defendant over the Internet, and can be assumed to know how to navigate between the summary notice and the Web site. Using the capability of the Internet in that fashion was a sensible and efficient way of providing notice, especially compared to the alternative Vogel apparently preferred—mailing out a lengthy legalistic document that few class members would have been able to plow through.

The settlement was criticized because it paid out $2.5 million to attorneys for fees and costs, while offering only coupons to the class members.237238

The Terms of Use have since been amended with terms that indicate such a suit would not be possible in the future:239

These Terms of Use shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the state of Delaware, without regard to conflicts of laws provisions. You and Netflix agree that the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and/or the California Superior Court for the County of Santa Clara shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any dispute between you and Netflix relating in any way to the Netflix service or Web site or these Terms of Use. You and Netflix expressly and irrevocably consent to personal jurisdiction and venue in these courts. The parties agree that in any such dispute or subsequent legal action, they will only assert claims in an individual (non-class, non-representative) basis, and that they will not seek or agree to serve as a named representative in a class action or seek relief on behalf of those other than themselves.

Releasing this week

The Netflix website at one time featured a list of titles, "Releasing This Week" (RTW), that enabled customers to easily view new DVDs the company planned for rental release each week.240 On December 21, 2007, the company removed the link to the page without notice and replaced it with a slider system showing only four previously released movies at a time. The new page, called "Popular New Releases", does not list newly released DVDs for rental.241 The listing of new releases is still active,240 although there is no menu option that links to the page.

On January 1, 2008, a Netflix employee unofficially stated on the Netflix Community Blog that customers used the RTW page to add newly released movies to the top of their queues, then complained about delays in receiving them after demand outstripped the supply of DVDs on hand. By removing the page, Netflix sought to quell complaints that these movies were not readily available. Critics, however, have suggested this was just another Netflix attempt at throttling.242

Dynamic queue, subscription, and delivery methods

On April 4, 2006, Netflix filed a patent infringement lawsuit in which it demanded a jury trial in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that Blockbuster's online DVD rental subscription program violated two patents held by Netflix. The first cause of action alleged Blockbuster's infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,024,381 (issued April 4, 2006; only hours before the lawsuit was filed) by copying the "dynamic queue" of DVDs available for each customer, Netflix's method of using the ranked preferences in the queue to send DVDs to subscribers, and Netflix's method permitting the queue to be updated and reordered.243 The second cause of action alleged infringement of Patent No. 6,584,450 (issued June 24, 2003), which covers in less detail the subscription rental service as well as Netflix's methods of communication and delivery.244 The dispute was ended a year later, on June 25, 2007, with both companies declining to disclose the terms of their legal settlement, except for a statement by Blockbuster that it would not have a major impact on its future financial performance.245246 Blockbuster also said that the company planned to close 282 stores that year to shift focus to its online service. The company already had closed 290 stores in 2006.247

In fall 2006, Blockbuster signed a deal with The Weinstein Company, that gave it the exclusive rental rights to the studio's films beginning January 1, 2007.248 This agreement forced Netflix to obtain copies from mass merchants or retailers, instead of directly from the studio.249 Netflix has speculated that the effect of the Blockbuster-Weinstein agreement could result in higher rental costs and/or fewer copies of the studio's movies, which would limit the number of each movie's DVDs that would be available to subscribers at any one time.250 As of June 2007, Netflix continues to make available Weinstein movies, including Unknown, School For Scoundrels and Harsh Times, among others. The first-sale doctrine allows Netflix and other video rental businesses to offer movies released by the Weinstein Company, but the long-term effects of the Blockbuster-Weinstein deal remain uncertain.

Removal of social networking feature

Since 2004, Netflix subscribers could use a feature that allowed them to interact with friends who were also members. This feature was meant to tap into the growing popularity of social networking. With this feature, users could see how their friends rated a movie on that movie's page; view what DVDs their friends were renting; and allow them to leave their friends notes with film recommendations.251252

In March 2010, as part of a redesign of its movie-details pages, the Friends feature began to be phased out. Users could no longer see their friends' ratings on movie pages, and what remained of the friends section was moved to a small link at the bottom of each page. The initial announcement about the redesign on Netflix's official blog made no reference to any changes to the Friends feature.253 Hundreds of angry users posted negative comments, and the feedback prompted Netflix's Vice President of Product Management, Todd Yellin, to post a follow-up statement. While apologizing for poor communication about the changes, Yellin stated that the Friends feature would continue to be phased out, citing figures that only 2% of members used the feature and the company's limited resources to maintain the service.251252254 Netflix users also began using the movie-reviews section of the website to post comments protesting the changes.255

Linux support

Netflix supports online streaming only on Microsoft Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android, relying on Microsoft's Silverlight technology. Partly due to digital rights management issues, despite the open-source implementation of Silverlight known as Moonlight, this has created problems for users of fully open source versions of Linux and similar operating systems.256 Though Google's partially proprietary Android and Chrome OS platforms are essentially based upon Linux and other open source software infrastructure, Netflix did not provide any crossover support for using its proprietary components to stream any of its content upon fully free systems, such as Ubuntu and Fedora.

On August 9, 2011, Netflix released a Google Chrome web store item for Chrome OS, Mac, and PC; however, it does not yet enable Netflix streaming on Linux machines. On Linux systems running the Chrome browser, the extension simply redirects users to view Netflix.com.257

Third-party solutions

As of May 9, 2011, Google had initially released plans for a plugin for the Chrome browser and Chrome OS which would allow Netflix streaming, including traditional Linux users.258

On November 15, 2012, patches to the Wine compatibility layer to make viewing of Netflix on Linux and similar systems were announced.259

On November 18, 2012, a PPA and installation files were made publicly available making the installation and use of Netflix much easier for users of Ubuntu 12.04 and possibly other distributions.260

On August 8, 2013, software repositories were made publicly available making possible the usage of the Windows Silverlight plugin in Linux-native web browsers using Wine.261262 Previous Linux Netflix support required running the entire Firefox web browser through the Wine compatibility layer.260

Closed captioning

On March 11, 2011, Don Cullen filed a national class action lawsuit263 against Netflix alleging Netflix failed to close caption its streaming video library and had misled deaf and hard of hearing customers. In June 2011, the National Association of the Deaf filed a lawsuit against Netflix for not providing closed captioning on all of its Watch Instantly movies. The group claims Netflix is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing equal access on entertainment.264 On November 11, 2011, the court denied a Netflix motion to dismiss the case.265

In March 2012, Netflix announced it had increased the number of programs that are closed captioned. Almost all Netflix-ready devices in distribution today (including AppleTV, BD players, the Roku set-top box, and all the game consoles, phone apps, tablet apps, and TVs) are capable of rendering captions.266

In July 2012, Netflix announced the formation of an experimental project to crowdsource the closed-captioning effort using the Amara (formerly Universal Subtitles) platform.267 However, this proved problematic in the face of claims that crowdsourced subtitles, regardless of whether they are transcriptions or translations, are derivative works which infringe copyright if created or distributed without consent from the film's copyright owner.268 Amara operates under DMCA safe-harbor provisions which indemnify it from secondary copyright infringement lawsuits over user-uploaded content, and presumably Netflix would not publish any subtitles produced by this effort without authorization. Netflix was careful to say it is not committed to using any subtitles produced by the crowdsourcing project.267

In October 2012, Netflix was found to be offering the television series Andromeda to customers in Finland with unauthorized subtitles from the fansub scene.269 Such subtitles, and motion pictures incorporating them, have long been traded online, resulting in cease and desist notices, takedowns, and copyright infringement lawsuits against traders, website operators, and search engines; even criminal prosecution happened in one Norwegian case involving the distribution of fan-created subtitles alone.270 When confronted, Netflix apologized and promised to remove the unauthorized translations, but did not explain how the content came to be offered in the first place, or whether other potentially copyright-infringing subtitles exist in the company's repertoire.citation needed

On January 20, 2014, Jon Christian published an article in The Week, titled "How Netflix alienated and insulted its deaf subscribers: The streaming video giant still can't manage to competently produce closed captions", which catalogues Netflix's various technical and legal issues regarding closed captioning, including the poor quality of the subtitles that are provided. For example, he states: "But for all the service's strengths, one aspect is still decidedly twentieth century: The bizarrely low standards for Netflix's closed captions, which continue to alienate subscribers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or simply have difficulty understanding dialogue." The article was updated the following day to publish Netflix's response: "Update: The day after this article was published, a representative from Netflix contacted the author of this piece with an additional comment: 'While we don't have the rights to make edits to subs/captions we do, in fact, request redelivery of subtitles or captions when we discover errors. The titles in your piece are now under investigation.' "271

Technical details

Streaming

Initially streaming solely using Microsoft technologies and codecs such as VC-1 for video and WMA for audio, the rapid expansion and diversity of Netflix-capable devices have necessitated encoding into many different formats — including H.264 (AVC), VC-1, H.263 and H.265 (HEVC) for video, and Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, AAC and Ogg Vorbis for audio.272 According to Netflix, the vast number of codec and & bitrate combinations can mean having to encode the same title 120 different times before it can be delivered to all streaming platforms.273

Netflix uses adaptive bitrate streaming technology to adjust the video and audio quality to match a customer’s broadband connection speed and realtime network conditions.

Netflix recommend:

Quality Required download speed Ref
Minimum (low) 1.5Mbit/s 274
DVD quality (480p) 3Mbit/s 274
HD (720p) 5Mbit/s 274
Super HD (1080p) 7Mbit/s 274
3D Streaming 12Mbit/s 274
Ultra HD (4K) 25Mbit/s 275

Netflix provides users the ability to choose their download rates / quality of video on their site (https://account.netflix.com/VideoQuality).

Netflix API

On October 1, 2008, Netflix launched an application programming interface (API).276 The Netflix API277 allows access to data for all Netflix titles as well as access on a user's behalf to manage his or her movie queue. The API is free and allows commercial use.278 The Developer Network includes a forum for asking and answering questions.279

A variety of services has been created around or has integrated the API. Examples include Rotten Tomatoes and The New York Times, which allow users to click to add titles to their Netflix queue or begin watching on Watch Instantly from their pages,279 and Jinni, which enables one to search within Watch Instantly and imports some user information such as reviews.280

Additionally, the API has allowed many developers to release Netflix applications for mobile devices. For example, on November 16, 2009, Netflix released an official Nokia app that allows some trailer streaming,281 and on August 26, 2010, Netflix released an official iPhone app.146 However, in June 2012, Netflix announced that it would be cutting back the availability of its public API.282why?

IT infrastructure

In 2010, Netflix migrated its infrastructure to Amazon EC2. Master copies of digital films from movie studios are stored on Amazon S3, and each film is encoded into over 50 different versions based on video resolution and audio quality using machines on the cloud. In total, Netflix has over 1 petabyte of data stored on Amazon, and the data are sent to content delivery networks (including Akamai, Limelight, and Level 3) that feed the content to local ISPs. Netflix uses a number of pieces of open-source software in its backend, including FreeBSD and nginx,283 Java, MySQL, Gluster, Apache Tomcat, Hive, Chukwa, Cassandra, and Hadoop.284

Cultural Effects

The rise of Netflix has affected the way audiences watch televised content. Neil Hunt, Netflix’s chief product officer, believes that Netflix is a model for what television will look like in 2025. He points out that because the Internet allows users the freedom to watch shows at their own pace, an episode doesn't need cliffhangers to tease the audience to keep tuning in week after week, because they can just binge straight into the next episode.285 Netflix has allowed content creators to deviate from traditional formats that force 30 minute or 60 minute time-slots once a week, which it claims gives them an advantage over networks. Their model provides a platform that allows varying run times per episode based on a storyline, eliminates the need for a week to week recap, and does not have a fixed notion of what constitutes a “season”. This flexibility also allows Netflix to nurture a show until it finds its audience, unlike traditional networks which will quickly cancel a show if it's unable to maintain steady ratings.286

Netflix has strayed from the traditional necessary production of a pilot episode in order to establish the characters and create arbitrary cliffhangers to prove to the network that the concept of the show will be successful. Kevin Spacey spoke at the Edinburgh International Television Festival about how the new Netflix model was effective for the production of House of Cards; “Netflix was the only company that said, ‘We believe in you. We’ve run our data, and it tells us our audience would watch this series.” Though traditional networks are unwilling to risk millions of dollars on shows without first seeing a pilot, Spacey points out that in 2012, 113 pilots were made, 35 of those were chosen to go to air, 13 of those were renewed, and most of those are gone now. The total cost of this is somewhere between $300–$400 million, which makes Netflix’s deal for House of Cards extremely cost effective.287 Netflix's subscription fee also eliminates the need for commercials, so they are free from needing to appease advertisers to fund their original content.

The Netflix model has also affected viewers’ expectations. According to a 2013 Nielsen survey, more than 60% of Americans admit to binge-watching shows and nearly 8/10 Americans have used technology to watch their favorite shows on their own schedule.288 Netflix has successfully continued to release their original content by making the whole season available at once, proving that viewer habits have changed. Audiences no longer want to watch just one episode a week at a specific scheduled time; they want the freedom and control over when to watch the next episode at their own pace. Netflix has capitalized on these habits by automatically playing the next episode in the series, knowing that 15 seconds isn’t long enough for viewers to decide to stop watching; by the time the next episode starts they are already hooked.289

See also

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