It’s a sobering thought to realise that Netflix is 25 years-old this year. After all, it shows just how far technology has come.
Remember 1997? The hottest tech that year included the Netscape web browser, Tamagotchi, the MiniDisc format and the first Grand Theft Auto. IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer beat Garry Kasparov at chess, while Men In Black grossed $250 million at the box office.
It was also the year that DVD players were introduced, sparking two entrepreneurs (Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph) to try out renting DVDs by mail. The hook? Instead of trawling the shelves at your local Blockbuster Video store, you could use the Internet to list the movies you wanted to watch without leaving the house. No fighting for the last copy of Jim Carrey’s Liar Liar. They’d arrive through your letterbox in an envelope.
The company has grown dramatically since those early days.
1999 - Netflix launches a subscription service, giving members unlimited DVD rentals with no restrictions for $20.
2000 - Netflix introduces personalised recommendations to make it easier to find your next favourite movie
2003 - Netflix membership exceeds 1 million subscribers
2007 - Streaming is introduced
2011 - The first dedicated Netflix button appears on TV remote controls
2012 - Netflix membership hits 25 million subscribers
2013 - The service’s first original programming launches with Lilyhammer, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black
2015 - ‘Binge-watch’ was declared the word of the year
2016 - Netflix goes live in 130 countries simultaneously.
2017 - Netflix membership surpasses 100 million subscribers
2021 - Netflix membership smashes the 200 million subscriber milestone
Watch the The Story of Netflix - 25th Anniversary video below:
Of course, it hasn’t all been plain sailing:
But Netflix has had a huge impact on the broadcasting landscape, both in terms of production and consumption. “Netflix has changed what we watch and the way we watch it,” writes The Guardian. “It has successfully reorganised traditional broadcast television and theatrical cinema models and put itself at the centre, growing from 24 million subscribers in 2012 to 214 million this year. It is available in more than 190 countries… It has created more than 1,500 original series, including planet-straddlingly massive shows such as Stranger Things and Bridgerton. In 2021 alone it released over 150 original movies – three per week.”
Here’s to the next 25 years and another season of Squid Game.