When it comes to streaming media, Netflix is the indisputable king. The company that started it’s run more than 20 years ago as a mail-order DVD rental service has since transformed its business model completely to match the ever-changing tech landscape.
As a result, the company now boasts more than 180 million subscribers worldwide and secures a spot as one of the biggest media publishers in the world with its Netflix Originals program.
If you’re new to the platform or just want to learn more about how it all works, you’ve come to the right place. In this extensive guide to the world’s largest streaming platform, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Netflix.
Marc Randolph, co-founder of Netflix and the first CEO of the company
Reed Hastings, co-founder and the current chairman and CEO
On October 1, 2008, Netflix announced a partnership with Starz to bring 2,500+ new films and shows to “Watch Instantly”, under Starz Play.
In August 2010, Netflix reached a five-year deal worth nearly $1 billion to stream films from Paramount, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The deal increased Netflix’s annual spending fees, adding roughly $200 million per year. It spent $117 million in the first six months of 2010 on streaming, up from $31 million in 2009.
On July 12, 2011, Netflix announced that it would separate its existing subscription plans into two separate plans: one covering the streaming and the other DVD rental services.The cost for streaming would be $7.99 per month, while DVD rental would start at the same price. The announcement led to panned reception among Netflix’s Facebook followers, who posted negative comments on its wall.Twitter comments spiked a negative “Dear Netflix” trend 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. 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.”
In a reversal, Netflix announced in October that its streaming and DVD-rental plans would remain branded together.
In January 2018, Netflix named Spencer Neumann as the new CFO.
In January 2020, Netflix opened a new office in Paris with 40 employees.
In July 2020, Netflix appointed Ted Sarandos as co-CEO
What is Netflix?
Netflix is the world’s leading media streaming platform, operating in nearly every country in the world. It was one of the very first players in the streaming industry when it made the transition in 2007, and the bet has paid off with hundreds of millions of subscribers around the world.
The streaming service was initially built on the back of licensed content from other distributors, but Netflix began funding its own original programming in 2013. The first of these all-new “Netflix Originals” was House of Cards, which broke new grounds for streaming-only media.
Since then, Netflix has significantly ramped up the production of original content, putting a strain on its relationship with other publishers. Other new streaming services, like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney Plus, have grown to become serious competitors, as well.
Even so, Netflix remains the biggest fish in the pond. In fact, for many people, the brand has become synonymous with streaming, with phrases like “Netflix and chill” entering the public lexicon.
As you watch more movies and shows, Netflix will begin recommending new shows based on your watching history. These can be hit or miss, so it’s generally better to get recommendations from friends or trusted websites.
Many consumers still have data caps and low bandwidth plans, so data usage on Netflix can be a major concern. No matter whether you’re connected on a mobile phone, laptop, or smart TV, without a good connection your experience will be hindered.
Netflix lists the lowest possible connection at .5 Mbps, but the recommended speed for a decent streaming experience is 1.5 Mbps.
Data consumption is also a concern for many, so we’ve run some tests to see just how much data Netflix uses.
Is Netflix worth it?
Netflix is the premier streaming service with an enormous catalog of content, but it’s also one of the most expensive. With so many great competitors out there, it’s worth asking the question: Is Netflix worth it?
The answer for the vast majority of users is yes. For casual streamers, the basic plan at $9 unlocks a truly game-changing amount of media to stream, although it’s limited to standard definition.
For couples and small families, the standard plan at $14 lets you stream on multiple devices simultaneously and bumps the quality up to 1080p (HD). This is really a baseline for those looking to stream on a bigger screen or TV.
The answer gets a bit more complicated if you want to stream in 4K quality. Unless you plan on sharing the account with friends and family (up to four streams are allowed), the $18 a month price tag is pretty steep.
This is especially true when compared to other streaming services, which offer 4K quality at a much lower price. Disney Plus, Prime Video, and Apple TV Plus all offer 4K as part of their base plans, all of which cost less than the cheapest Netflix offer.
There’s no question about it: experts agree that Netflix is the streaming service to beat. With an enormous catalog that no other streaming service can hope to match and several must-watch originals, Netflix is one of the few streaming services that can completely replace your cable subscription.
However, being the top dog means everyone is gunning for you, and there are now a host of Netflix alternatives to choose from. Most of these compete on price, and if Netflix continues to bump the cost of its service, experts think it may start losing out on more budget-conscious consumers.
According to experts at vpnveteran, to combat this, Netflix is testing a cheaper mobile-only subscription in certain markets, but it’s unclear if this will catch on. Other mobile-only services, like Quibi, have completely failed to capture an audience, although Netflix does offer a better spread of quality content.
Users Opinion Matter
Just taking Netflix’s incredible 180+ million subscriber count into consideration, it would appear that users agree that Netflix is the most desirable streaming subscription on the market. Our own polling confirms this, as you can see below.
If you could only pick one, which streaming service would you choose?
Netflix captured an impressive 63.92% of the vote, with Amazon Prime Video in a distant second at 13.32%. Disney Plus, Hulu, and HBO Now also got a small percentage of the vote, but others failed to make any impression at all.
Of course, the question stated that you could only choose one streaming service, so it makes sense that the option with the largest catalog would be most users’ first choice. It doesn’t mean that other services are not worth subscribing to, but it does give you an idea of just how far ahead of the competition Netflix really is in the minds of normal users.
The service is so ubiquitous that most TV remotes and streaming devices have a built-in Netflix button, although this addition isn’t as popular with everyday users as you might think.
Online, many users bemoan the ever-increasing prices of Netflix’s subscriptions, but it hasn’t stopped millions of new subscribers around the world from joining the service every month. Netflix also has a fairly generous family sharing program, although you have pay for the more expensive plans to unlock more simultaneous streams.
Where is Netflix available?
The better question is where isn’t it available? Netflix can be streamed in nearly every country in the world, although the content and pricing will differ in each region. That said, you can use a Netflix-friendly VPN to access more content from other countries around the world.
As of 2016, Netflix is available in more than 200 countries in the world, with just four countries not having access to the service. Here are the countries that cannot access the service:
Crime, North Korea, and Syria are excluded because Netflix is a US-based company, and relations between the US and these countries are strained. China, however, may soon be added to the list of supported countries. There is a growing list of Chinese-language content on the service, and it’s already available in Hong Kong.
What devices does Netflix support?
Netflix supports just about any device with a WiFi connection. This includes PCs, smartphones, tablets, most smart TVs, set-top boxes, Amazon Fire TV devices, Blu-ray players, and game consoles. It’s one of the most accessible streaming platforms out there, with more than a decade’s worth of integrations in popular tech.
The Netflix app works with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices. The latest Android app requires Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher, and for Apple devices, you’ll need iOS 5.0 or higher.
On older TVs, Netflix can also be cast to any compatible Chromecast device, although AirPlay is no longer supported by the platform.
One of the most notable devices that aren’t supported by Netflix is the Nintendo Switch. Given that both Hulu and YouTube are already available on the Switch, hopefully, it’s just a matter of time before it’s officially supported.