Netflix is a media provider and streaming service that offers digital content to users who pay a fixed monthly subscription. It was founded in California in 1997 and initially rented DVDs online to users. At the time, physical video stores such as Blockbuster were more popular, and mailing DVDs to viewers was a new concept. In the early 2000s, Netflix struggled financially; at one point they proposed an acquisition to Blockbuster, which promptly refused them. Blockbuster went bankrupt ten years later.
In 2007, Netflix first introduced its streaming service; users could access films online for a certain length of time. In 2013, it premiered its first original series, House of Cards. Netflix uses analytics to discern what movies are the best choices to stream, taking into account both cost of obtaining the rights to that film and its popularity among users (what gets the most views among certain demographics). Netflix is available internationally, except in China, North Korea, Syria, and the Crimea.
Netflix original content
After its first original series, House of Cards, Netflix began developing a plethora of its own shows and movies. Orange is the New Black, for instance, became one of the most popular drama series of its time. More recently, Stranger Things and The Crown have been hits as well. Though it did not create the film, Netflix paid for the rights to release To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and also released its sequel.
Though Netflix is known for its acclaimed series, some of its films are considered problematic or simply bad, particularly a few of the more recent teen rom-coms that the studio has released.
The developing war between streaming services and theatres
Some theatre companies have criticized or even banned film studios that send movies to the streaming service within a short period of time after theatrical release. Trolls: World Tour began streaming just before what was supposed to be its theatrical debut, and it received an enormous pushback from theatres. AMC even threatened to remove Universal, which produced the Trolls sequel, from its future lineup.
This sparks questions that affect both theatres who need money and viewers who might benefit from paying for a streaming service’s monthly subscription, rather than paying ten or more dollars to see each film. That tension has been heightened during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless, Netflix chooses to stream its original content directly on its platform, rather than sending it to theatres. As the originator of media streaming services, Netflix reinvented television and film and changed how the world accesses it.