- Netflix continues to change the way Hollywood does business since moving to original content in 2013.
- Netflix led the streaming revolution, pushing rivals to launch direct-to-consumer services.
- The streamer has moved into live events, publishing, video games, consumer products, and more.
It’s only been a decade since Netflix launched its first original series, the Norwegian mob drama “Lilyhammer,” but in that time the streamer has become a disruptive force in Hollywood, challenging the entertainment industry with its global approach to making , market and distribute. content.
Started as a DVD-by-mail business, it is now the world leader in subscription
entertainment, ending 2021 with 222 million paid members. The company’s success in streaming has pushed legacy media companies such as Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and NBCUniversal to pursue their own direct-to-consumer strategies.
And Netflix didn’t stop there, in recent years expanding its domain to include publishing, live events, gaming, and other side businesses.
Read more about how Netflix’s video game strategy begins to take shape
Based in Los Gatos, California, Netflix has always been focused on products and data. This has kept him one step ahead of the rest of Hollywood when it comes to creating consumer-facing experiences.
For example, after years of offering almost no data on its audience, Netflix released a list of the most popular shows and movies on the platform in the US and around the world. As co-CEO Ted Sarandos explained to investors at the time, Netflix found that some viewers are more inclined to watch a title if they know it’s popular with other subscribers.
In 2021, Netflix went one step further and introduced a Top 10 website to share information about their most watched titles. Although what is on offer is only part of the full picture of how people consume content on the platform, the site reveals more data than any other streamer.
Read more about why new viewership data gives Netflix an edge over Disney+ and other players in the streaming wars.
At Netflix, disruption starts with your content
When Netflix first came to Hollywood, its rivals prized it as a platform for their long-forgotten back catalog movies and shows. The checks Netflix wrote for library titles in those early days helped prop up revenue at the studios. But it soon became clear that the company’s appetite for content would encompass more than just licensed programming.
The streamer launched original programming with a focus on prestige projects from high-profile creatives: series like “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” came to define its first original slate. But over the years, Netflix has consistently moved to conquer every major genre of entertainment programming, from documentaries to stand-up specials to reality shows to YA.
Read more about Netflix’s move to YA with ‘XO, Kitty’, the ‘To All the Boys’ spin-off, as data reveals the global reach of the genre
Until now, Netflix has stayed away from live programming, so it hasn’t been competitive in areas like sports, talk, and breaking news. But when the company plays in these scenarios, it has an outsized impact.
Take for example the documentary series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” which is credited with popularizing motorsports in the US. Netflix now has similar projects in the works that will follow professional golf and tennis seasons.
Read more about how Netflix is helping F1 attract more viewers and fans in the US, according to McClaren CEO Zak Brown.
Today, the streamer creates and distributes hundreds of original titles each year, scoring worldwide hits with shows including “Stranger Things” and “Bridgerton” and movies from “Red Notice” to “Don’t Look Up.”
Netflix has also upended the notion that international programming doesn’t resonate with American audiences, making South Korean thriller “Squid Game” and Spanish drama “Money Heist” two of its most-watched shows.
Read more about why ‘Squid Game’ became a worldwide phenomenon, according to a Netflix marketing exec
Netflix has been able to increase international production because it has been on top of global content trends for years. After slowly moving into some markets outside of the US, in 2016 the company launched a large-scale expansion, making its service available in 130 countries at once. It now operates in all countries except China, North Korea, Russia, and Syria.
Learn more about how Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ is part of a strong international TV strategy that is far ahead of its rivals, especially in South Korea.
In September 2020, Netflix, which is led by co-CEOs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos, promoted entertainment executive Bela Bajaria to the position of global head of television. She had previously overseen the company’s local-language originals and her promotion, which led to the departure of Netflix veteran Cindy Holland, indicated that the company would prioritize international programming going forward.
Now all of Netflix’s rivals, including Disney+ and
— are increasing their global programming efforts.
See our full interactive chart of Netflix’s top leaders
Netflix is expanding into publishing, events and other consumer businesses.
As Netflix’s constellation of original IPs grows, the company has been looking for new ways to drive fandom around the world, including with large-scale live events like Tudum, which streamed for fans around the world on September 2021, and the more selective The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience, which is touring the United States and Canada.
Later in April, the company will host hundreds of thousands of guests in Los Angeles for the two-week Netflix is a Joke Festival.
Read more about how ‘Bridgerton’ live events drive a broader strategy to retain subscribers and build fandoms
Netflix’s first attempt at adapting its IP for the physical world was through merchandise. He now sells “Stranger Things” cassette players and “Squid Game” tracksuits at Walmart, in another example of how he seeks to create touchpoints with fans.
Read more about Netflix’s partnership with Walmart to sell ‘Squid Game,’ ‘Stranger Things,’ and ‘Ada Twist’ merchandise
Netflix has also moved aggressively toward publishing, hiring former Condé Nast employees to create the fandom site Tudum, which posts news about upcoming Netflix titles and interviews with stars.
Learn more about how Netflix is hiring journalists from Condé Nast and Time Inc. to create a “fandom engine” to market its shows.
With Tudum, Netflix now competes directly with fan sites like Whats-on-Netflix.com, which obsessively tracks the comings and goings of programming on the service. The streamer is also taking on children’s publications like Highlights with Netflix Jr. magazine, which it will send into the homes of viewers with young children. And he’s tackling Hollywood trade publications like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter with Queue, which is edited by Vanity Fair alum Krista Smith and pushes award contenders with photos and profiles.
Read more about the ‘Netflix aficionado’ who runs the What’s on Netflix website
Prizes are one area where Netflix has made a particularly hefty investment. Although its studio rivals also spend lavishly to give their movies and TV shows the best chance of winning Oscars and Emmys, Netflix has gone a step further. It owns highly visible billboards in Los Angeles and presents premieres in the theaters it bought there and in New York.
That Apple TV+ beat Netflix to become the first streamer to win the best picture Oscar, with its 2022 win for “CODA,” is a sign of how much many in Hollywood still view Netflix as an outsider.
Read more about how Netflix created the loudest awards operation in Hollywood in its pursuit of the Best Picture Oscar
Netflix points to a future in games and interactive entertainment
After years as a Wall Street darling thanks to its rapid subscriber growth, Netflix has seen its business mature and its growth slow, particularly as it reaches saturation in some markets. That means the company has started looking for new ways to attract and retain subscribers.
In 2021, Netflix expanded beyond filmed gaming entertainment. So far, it has bought a trio of small game studios: Boss Fight, Night School, and Next Games.
This game drive is an expansion of interactive programming efforts that began with choose-your-own-adventure-style series like “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” It continues to invest in this style of programming and in April launched its first daily interactive series, “Trivia Quest.”
Read more about how Netflix’s gaming strategy will expand with interactive programming like ‘Trivia Quest’
One area where Netflix might be lagging behind its streaming rivals is advertising. Company executives have long maintained a strong stance against commercials on the platform, even as Disney+, Peacock, HBO Max and other streamers have introduced lower-cost, ad-supported options.
But in March 2022, CFO Spencer Neumann indicated that advertising could be on the horizon for the streaming giant, telling attendees at a conference, “It’s not like we have a religion against advertising.”
Advertising experts told Insider at the time that a cheaper Netflix with ads might not be the best strategy for the company, a sign that Netflix’s biggest success comes when it’s revolutionizing an industry and not fit for it. .
Learn more about why a cheaper Netflix with ads might not pay off, AVOD experts say, even with potential revenue in the billions