The summer of 1995 was a good summer! I was 14 and I mowed lawns all summer long. Every Friday my mom would drive me down to Blockbuster Video, so I could rent a boat ton a movies to keep me busy for the entire week. Honestly, I must’ve spent over $1,000 that summer. Oh, the memories….and the hours spent watching movies. As a sidenote—for those of you who were born in the mid to late 90’s, I don’t expect you to remember Blockbuster Video, but bear with me and I’ll explain.
What is a netflix?
In my last year of high school I remember hearing about this service called Netflix, it would drop a movie in your mailbox and then you could return it when you were finished watching it. I remember thinking “man, that’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard of, people will just keep the movies and not return them, ha!” – Boy was I dead wrong, of course, I was also 17 and knew nothing about technology or innovation.
Then this little company took root and got traction. More and more people started using it, people like my parents. I can still remember the first movie we got through the mail (it was Zoolander) and we slowly started to scale back on going to BlockBuster Video as much.
What were you thinking, Blockbuster?
The interesting thing is that in 2000 Netflix was offered up to Blockbuster for $50 million! But, little ol’ Blockbuster declined. So Netflix came out with an IPO, or initial public offering in 2002 selling 5.5 million shares of stocks at $15 a pop. And for those of you who don’t know—an IPO is when a company goes public and offers shares of the company to the public.
Now, for those of you who remember Blockbuster, you’ll remember the sections they used to have. Obviously there were the New Releases, there were Action, Comedy, Horror, Drama, the list goes on…and you might remember the “employee’s recommendation” section. At my Blockbuster, there was Dave. Dave always made the best recommendations. Movies like True Romance, The Big Lebowski, and Heat. But what Netflix did was virtualize that whole process and made it custom to you—the user! Pretty neat, eh?
Basically, Netflix maintains this system of reviews and ratings. They have an algorithm they dubbed “Cinematch” – clever, very clever. Users can rate a movie from 1 to 5 stars (1 being bad, 5 being fantastic), then Netflix will pull out (or mine) the data. Based on a user’s prior movie preferences and the ratings that they give those movies, Cinematch will predict what movies a user is more likely to want to watch and serve those movies up. It’s kinda cool, but then there’s that part of me that thinks I might be missing out on something if this experience is super personalized. Of course, personalization is what most users want. And Netflix has given it to us!
“The problem with binge-watching Netflix…is that you lose 3 days of your life.”
Then Netflix came out with “streaming” and this revolutionized the way humans watch TV. Netflix (and Amazon Prime) made things like cable, commercials, and network TV not as glamorous. If I can quote Wikipedia – “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.” — That’s pretty crazy! Being a member of Netflix, I know you are allowed to have different profiles on your account. Profiles make it easy for you to share your Netflix account with your girlfriend (or whoever) and have different streaming experiences. Again, experiences that are personalized and tailored to you.
In 2013, Netflix started its own award ceremony called The Flixies. The ceremony honors the viewing habits of its users. Certain categories include Best Bromance, Best Guilty Pleasure, and Best Marathon TV Show to name a few. Haha – that’s all I have to say about that!
Now with the advent of streaming, Netflix had to finagle some pretty interesting and expensive movie/tv rights to the shows it’s allowed to have on their service. They had to make exclusive “pay TV window” deals with both major and midline studios that offered certain streaming rights, which (mind you) are different than distribution rights.
Now we see Netflix start making their own films. They first started out with House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright Penn as the “thick as thieves” husband and wife political duo and Americans went bonkers over it. Then came Orange is the New Black and Americans went bonkers over that too. Then shows like Daredevil (which I went bonkers over!) and Jessica Jones, Bloodline, and Marco Polo. They also came out with comedy like the series follow up to Wet Hot American Summer, and Fuller House. Netflix has a boat ton of kids shows that are all original. They also picked up a few series that got canceled like Longmire, The Killing, and Arrested Development. We also see Netflix making feature films as well.
What’s next for Netflix?
So…what is next for Netflix? As of right now, Netflix services over 190 countries world-wide. They have over 70 million subscribers. They are also coming out with about 70 or so new TV shows and about 30 new feature films. Wow! And that doesn’t include documentaries, specials, or mini-series. So, wow, again!
In my opinion, Netflix is taking over the world, but that’s not it. They’re taking over cable TV, all I watch on cable is the news, but there are so many other channels/outlets for that. They’ve taken over Hollywood, well kinda, they are making a lot of movies and TV shows, and quite frankly I can’t remember the last good movie that came out of Hollywood. So, Netflix started as a mail service, it would drop a DVD in your mailbox and you could return it whenever you were finished watching it. Now, Netflix is a global company that’s worth more than CBS. And I don’t think this monolithic multi-media giant has any intention of slowing down. Hey, it works for me as long as I can watch my programs!!