Started in 1997 in Silicon Valley, Netflix was dubbed the icon of American popular culture following the success of its DVD-by-mail operation.
10 years after the DVD-era, during which the Netflix-logo-emblazoned red envelopes reigned supreme, Netflix introduced its movie and TV show streaming service and burgeoned into an online entertainment powerhouse. By releasing entire seasons of original programming such as ‹House of Cards› and ‹Orange is the New Black› all at once, Netflix was able to bring ‘binge-watching’ to the forefront of our culture and is now viewed by many as the future of entertainment.
Welcome to the 49th edition of Magazine B.
Switching between my smartphone and my television, I recently watched “Narcos,” a TV series based on the true story of one of Colombia’s most infamous drug cartels. I’m also in the middle of “Stranger Things,” a surrealistic tale set in small-town America, which I’m watching on my laptop. Both series are Netflix productions. I’m curious as to what our readers are watching these days, whether it’s TV or films. And how many times do they watch television in one week? I remember when my entire family would gather in front of the television set to watch a program, or when I’d anxiously wait for a movie’s release date and set aside a day for going to the theater. Now that there’s a variety of ways to watch what I want when I want, those memories are phantoms of bygone days. Netflix is an online streaming service that caters to modern viewing patterns, one that has radically altered content distribution and the entertainment industry.
Netflix co-founders Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph started out in 1997 with a mail-in DVD rental service based in Silicon Valley. They shipped their DVDs in red envelopes marked with the company logo, and steadily built a customer base by charging fixed monthly payments instead of per rental. Despite fierce market competition, large turnover ratios and adaptive company policies equated to rapid growth, and nearly 10 years later, the company has revolutionized the media streaming industry. Having switched its focus from mail-in to online, the company now offers its subscribers unlimited access to a library of high-definition videos — all for a low monthly fee. They started original productions with the hit TV series “House of Cards,” which brought unprecedented success and raised the company’s stature in the entertainment industry. As a content distributor that was neither a broadcasting company nor an official production studio, it was a risky but revolutionary endeavor.
Netflix has many technical advantages over its competitors, including rapid streaming and buffering technology, a wide range of content, and algorithms that analyze users’ personal preferences. With exclusive release rights for over 10 original productions, the ability to offer unlimited access to content for a fixed monthly rate, and markets that have expanded from North America and Western Europe to nearly every region across the globe, Netflix is redefining what it means to be a “content distributor.” Regarding the changes in content consumption triggered by Netflix’s daring experiments, industry experts say that power has shifted from the distributors to the users.
Netflix has the highest levels of technology for optimizing content for a variety of devices, but the company focuses primarily on TV. In short, they concentrate on individual viewers. In an interview, CEO Reed Hastings likened Netflix’s content to books, because viewers can control what they watch at a time of their choosing. By returning TV to one of the oldest forms like a book or a magazine, Hastings says, Netflix has relinquished control to the viewer.
It’s often said that the appearance of new technologies and machines wipes out what came before. Yet inventions based on longtime human behavior do not disappear so easily. On the contrary, simply redefining a product or medium has occasionally spawned new industries. People commonly refer to such a phenomenon as “innovation.” Now is the time to take heed of Netflix’s new definition of TV and the future of content distribution —along with the many other realms in contemporary life that are being redefined.
Taehyuk Choi, Editor-in-Chief
Reporting on media trends from entertainment capital LA
Revelations of the Netflix UI
Taehoon Park, Frograms CEO
Head Office, Los Gatos
Nucleus of product development and engineering
Netflix’s technology: what makes it so innovative and where it’s headed
Grant McCracken, Anthropologist
How Netflix has changed media and our way of life
Head Office, Los Angeles
Content and marketing control center
Netflix Originals by genre
Ted Sarandos, Netflix CCO
Why Netflix is here to stay, according to the names behind Netflix Originals
How Internet TV has changed the way we watch content
The birth and growth of Netflix
Netflix past and present: the story behind the story
Inventive ways Netflix spreads the word
Defining Netflix's company culture in seven values
An interview with the Netflix CEO
Netflix in numbers
- Publisher Suyong Joh
- Editor In Chief / Creative Director Taehyuk Choi
- Senior Editor Eunsung Park
- Editor Jaewoo Seo, Yeongmin Kim
- Guest Designer Gyeongtak Kang
- Filmmaker Sukwang Baak
- Marketer Hyunjoo Kim
- Correspondents Mihye Nam (Tokyo), Nari Park (London), Lena Shin (LA), Sanghyeok Lee (Berlin), Jeewon Lim (Milan), Hyeseon Jeong (Paris)
- Publishing JOH & Company
- Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs
- On-Demand Culture: Digital Delivery and the Future of Movies
- Reed Hastings and Netflix (Technology Titans)
- Over the Top: How the Internet Is (Slowly but Surely) Changing the Television Industry
- Blockbusters: Hit-Making, Risk-Taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment
- When Netflix Finds Out You’re Black: A Short Collection of Ridiculous Thoughts
- Evangelist Marketing: What Apple, Amazon and Netflix Understand About Their Customers (That Your Company Probably Doesn’t)