Netflix: History and Communications

Liza Golysheva
Liza Golysheva
Content Writer
8 min reading·

Netflix, like Spotify, changed the way we think about content consumption. Today it‘s a global streaming service with hundreds of millions of subscribers, and the value among entertainment companies is inferior only to the conglomerate Disney, having it 25 times fewer employees. However, a few decades ago there was no hint of that.

In 2018, Netflix became the largest entertainment media company. In addition to streaming licensed content, Netflix also produces and produces its own TV shows and feature films. 

Netflix has an interesting history, because the original concept of the service was quite different. In its campaigns, Netflix notes its uniqueness and offers users a variety of options that highlight the service among competitors.

A bit of history...

Netflix was founded in 1997 in California. At first, Netflix was exclusively a rental service. The original concept of the service was to provide users with an option to order movies from the Netflix website and receive DVDs by mail. Once they were done watching, they simply sent them back to Netflix in pre-paid envelopes. This was a convenient option for people who didn't have a video store nearby.

After experiencing considerable success, Netflix moved to a subscription model. The new format allowed users to keep DVDs for as long as they wanted but could only rent a new movie when the previous one was returned. This proved to be a game-changer for the company and helped it expand its reach further.

Interestingly, the name "Netflix" came from a combination of "Net" (as in the abbreviation for the internet) and "Flix" (a variation of "flick," which is a common abbreviation for movies). It was a fitting name for a company that was at the forefront of the online movie rental industry.

Overall, Netflix's innovative business model and its ability to adapt to changing times have made it one of the most successful entertainment media companies in the world. From its humble beginnings as a DVD rental service, Netflix has come a long way to become a streaming giant, producing and streaming its own original programming, and revolutionizing the way we consume movies and TV shows. 

Let's talk about the major milestone in Netflix's history when it introduced its internet streaming service, "Watch Now" in 2007. This was a significant shift in the company's business model, as it allowed users to instantly watch TV shows and movies on their personal computers, without having to wait for DVDs to arrive by mail.

Initially, "Watch Now" offered users only a list of thousands of movies and series to choose from, and there were also restrictions on the number of hours of free viewing - a maximum of 18 hours per month. However, it was clear that Netflix had recognized the potential of streaming technology, and this move helped it to become the giant we know it as today.

The company went on to form partnerships that allowed it to stream content not only on computers but also on devices such as Xbox 360, Play Station 3, Blu-ray disc players, and set-top boxes. This expansion of streaming capabilities enabled Netflix to reach an even wider audience and solidify its position as a leading entertainment media company.

One of the standout features of Netflix has been its Cinematch recommendation system, which suggests films and TV shows to viewers based on their viewing history. This algorithm has been a major contributor to the company's success, as it helps to keep viewers engaged and satisfied with the content they are consuming.

Overall, the introduction of "Watch Now" was a game-changer for Netflix, and it played a significant role in shaping the company's success in the years that followed. Today, Netflix is known as a pioneer in the streaming industry, and its impact on the way we consume entertainment is undeniable.

In the early 2010s, the subscription system began to dominate disk leasing. Demand for the film was rapidly declining, and people were more interested in watching movies online. Netflix began to work on Apple devices and became available on iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as Nintendo Wii and other Internet-connected devices. The service expanded to other countries, offering global and local content.

In 2014, Netflix had over 50 million users worldwide and worked in 41 countries. At the same time, the company introduced a global rebranding: a new logo with a modern font with a characteristic shadow and a new website interface. The changes turned out to be contradictory: some users liked the new minimalist design, while others preferred the old interface.

In 2016, Netflix began a global expansion of its services in 130 more countries. Netflix has been rapidly expanding its reach around the world in recent years, with plans to operate in almost every country where it can legally and logistically do so. However, there is still one major exception to this global expansion: China. Due to the country's strict regulations around internet and media services, Netflix has been unable to establish a foothold in the world's most populous country. Despite this setback, the streaming giant has continued to explore ways to enter the Chinese market and tap into its massive potential audience. It remains to be seen whether or not Netflix will ultimately be successful in its efforts to bring its services to China, but the company's continued growth and success in other markets suggest that it will not be deterred by the challenges of this unique and complex market.

Netflix content differs significantly from country to country: due to the different licensing agreements with studios in each country, the service presents an exclusive range of videos. 

This has contributed to the popularity of VPNs that allow users to log in from a foreign country and watch more movies and TV shows. When Netflix noticed such activity, it started blocking services. However, different VPN clients can still bypass restrictions. It‘s one of the most popular features of a VPN to date, with most paid services citing Netflix as one of their biggest advantages. There is even an unofficial website called Netflix Online Global Search (uNoGS), where you can find out in which country you are interested in the film.

Netflix now dominates the streaming video market.

What about the communications?

Netflix refuses to use the advertising business model to grow its own revenue. The service very rarely runs global companies, which is produced by Netflix itself.

An exception is the campaign “One Story Away”, which was launched in 27 countries. In the commercial collected various films and series presented on the streaming service. 

User count Netflix has grown in record numbers since the coronavirus pandemic. And with the campaign "One Story Away" service attracts even more potential subscribers. "Stories are powerful. The TV shows and films we watch bring out all sorts of different emotions, give us perspectives we've never seen before and even make us feel closer to each other," says Eric Pallotta, Vice President of Netflix. "People have very different tastes and moods. But no matter who you are or where you are, we're all only one story away from seeing, feeling and connecting more."

Netflix prefers social media communication and the promotion of individual TV series and movies, particularly its own production. The company pays special attention to activity on Twitter. It constantly publishes jokes, clippings from shows and films, memes, GIFs, conduct surveys and re-publish tweets of the actors filmed for the company.

Netflix communicates with users in an informal manner. The company knows the meaning of “Netflix and Chill”, knows how people watch shows all night, and also understands that users share passwords with friends and family. Netflix also often retweets funny messages or memes that promote their content. If you come up with a good joke, you have a good chance of getting retweet in the official service account.

Netflix has been known to run personalized campaigns for each of its films and original productions, and one particularly memorable example is its promotion for the fourth season of the hit political drama "House of Cards." In collaboration with BBH New York, Netflix created a clever and elaborate fake presidential campaign centered around the show's main character, Frank Underwood. The campaign kicked off during the 2015 Republican debate, where an estimated 30 million people were shown a video featuring an unknown presidential candidate who was later revealed to be Underwood.

Also, to promote one of the loudest and most contraversive TV series about suicide and teenage problems, "13 reasons why" Netflix launched an entire campaign in Instagram. An Instagram account was created for each character, where characters posted posts in real time. Each message contained clues, details to the story, and attracted even more people to the interactivity.

The accounts garnered more than 4 million followers among fans of the show, which helped to increase coverage and attract new viewers.

An interesting case occurred with fans of the series ”BoJack Horseman”, who were actively asking about the release date of season 5 on social networks. “BoJack Horseman” is a cartoon satire of Hollywood reality. A contrasting world of humans and anthropomorphic animals, a mirror of everyday life with typical personal and social problems. Taking advantage of the character of BoJack, Netflix decided to follow its principles: never give fans what they want until they irritate you to death. Therefore, no one answered the endless questions about the release date of season 5. Netflix posted original illustrations depicting BoJack living a starlit Hollywood life - spending time at parties with celebrity.

This has further fueled fan enthusiasm. Netflix then retweeted the random message and announced that the woman was a millionth person who asked about the season’s release date. So she allegedly won, and so the company finally announced the release date of season 5.

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