Netflix is Busy Conquering the World

I’ll admit that Netflix has been talked to death in business school. It’s got to be up there with Southwest and Apple as one of the most tired subjects to talk about. But this will not be about their business model transition from mail dvds to streaming; this post is all about their moves in the recent past and some of the less talked about strengths like original content, and specifically their international original content which has been making waves outside of the US. The company added 875,000 new subscribers in the US while overseas they added 4.45 million new subscribers to their consumer base. Their dedication to the foreign market has helped them combat their competitors in the US who have made deals limiting Netflix’s ability to get licensing for the same number of movies and tv shows at reasonable prices that they used to.


While a lot of people have pointed to critical flops like Bright in an effort to expose Netflix’s lacking quality, there are few that also acknowledge (or even know about) the amount of critical successes that the company has successfully invested in overseas. Shows like “Cable Girls” in Spain, “Marseille” in France, “3%” in Brazil, and “Dark” in Germany are all in a non-english language and demonstrate Netflix’s concerted efforts to crack foreign markets in a way that doesn’t involve simply redistributing english productions with subtitles. By creating original content that audiences abroad enjoy and demand, Netflix doesn’t have to cater so aggressively to American audiences and rely on their tastes alone. They additionally don’t have to pay exorbitant licensing fees in order to distribute their original foreign content, and as they become more attuned to their overseas audiences, they can make more originals which they will come back for. All the while they are learning more about their viewers across the globe.

On the technology side of the business, Netflix has made sure to be available to its customers at an almost absurd level. The provider has an availability rate of 99.97% due to the extreme measures they’ve taken to ensure that whatever improbable accident may occur, that their services will not be affected and content will be available to its consumers. Chaos engineering, is the affectionate term used by the company to reflect the ways which they test their system of using Amazon’s AWS data centers in 3 different regions for when one might be shut down; periodically they simulate a shut down and redirect traffic as a test of their fail-safe system (yes, I know, Amazon really does have its hands in everything, even its competitors). Netflix has also made sure to test its service across a wide swath of mobile devices from around the globe and in order to do this they have the operating equipment of 6 different cell towers in their headquarters so that they can effectively simulate the mobile and wifi conditions of places outside of the US…all so we get our TV when we want it.


Netflix has also taken obscenely meticulous steps to re-encode its library of videos to optimize streaming for better, more efficient playback. As a result, the company is allowing users with lower bandwidth to save data. While 4 GB of mobile data would get you 10 hours of Netflix now gets you 26 hours. Soon, the even more advanced video encoding of AV1 will be available and allow for even more efficient streaming capabilities.

It doesn’t stop there, the company has sneakily partnered with TV manufacturers to get their very own dedicated physical button onto the remote. This button may seem gimmicky but it accounts for a vast majority of the app launches as opposed to going through an external device running the Netflix application. Its visibility coupled with its ease of use contribute to the network’s occupation in the minds of consumers and the expectations of their TV user experience. Netflix is helping shape its physical existence by subtly making it a ubiquitous presence. This feature pairs quite nicely with the increased availability of TVs equipped for Wifi use straight out of the box and Netflix’s increased efforts to serve up original content which can be a replacement for cable offerings like “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman” and “The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale.” Both of these show hosts saw major traction on cable television and have been coaxed into airing recurring new content for the Netflix. All of these aspects appeal to and cater immensely to the cord cutters of world who no longer want to deal with cable.


It’s crazy to think that Netflix started with the simple concept of mailing DVDs, but their progress isn’t as schizophrenic as some people like to believe. They are a tireless service provider with ambitions that are not restricted to the US market and not limited by budget constraints, but whether they can translate their successes into beating or even just competing with their contemporaries remains to be seen.


  1. Love the fact that you stated Netflix is beyond its days as a mail-order DVD subscription service. The company has evolved and has done a fantastic job of providing a plethora of digestible content for almost ever type of genre. And whats surprising, 9 out of 10 times, their content is impressive. While most have been exposed or even binged shows like Stranger Things or even the Marvel inspired content, Ive recently watched Dark and The Crown. Both shows are tailored for international audiences, but the level of detail and production are second to none. As binge watching rates continue to rise and movie ticket prices continuing to soar, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Netflix produce high quality cinematography to give box offices (and movie houses) a run for their money.

  2. Hey Roarkwood!
    I’d agree that Netflix is easily over-talked about, but I enjoyed your perspective of global economy rather than what I usually see (US only). While I personally believe that Netflix is not going to be around in 20ish years (Hulu and other would be competitors I expect will over-take them) I loved your analysis of their strategy and how they have utilized that to remain relevant from their mail-order days until now.

    1. Hi @profgarbusm! I am curious about your reason to believe that Hulu and other competitors will over-take Netflix in the next couple of decades?

  3. Love this post since I am such a huge Netflix binger. I’d have to disagree with @profgarbusm when he said that Netflix will be phased out in the next 20 years though. As Netflix’s Originals budget has risen from $2 billion three years ago now up to $8 billion this past year it is clear that Netflix understands the necessity for original content. In my opinion, full length original cinematography streamed from you couch will be the future of content and Netflix is already making large moves to become the largest player in that game. Companies such as Hulu and Amazon Video need to catch up if they are going to be a large player in this growing market.

  4. Great post! Although I am not a Netflix subscriber, I have always been impressed with their ability to overcome the challenges that brick-and-mortar DVD providers like Blockbuster had a while ago and made a smooth transition into the streaming service. I was especially impressed with the 99.97% of availability rate and constant efforts to make their playback more efficient. Netflix is not only allowing numerous content and its own shows but also creating an effective user experience that is quite essential in the streaming realm. Personally, there have been so many times when I was shocked with how much data I used by listening to music on Youtube for just about an hour, and I assume Netflix would take at least an hour every time one watches an episode or so. Such user experience enhancements will ensure Netflix customers to be loyal and continuously use the product, further enabling the firm’s dominance in the streaming service over other providers like Hulu.

  5. Really interesting post, Roark. I liked how you first touched on Netflix and their efforts to crack the international market. Prior to reading your post, this was something I knew very little about. @kennedybc mentioned how they’ve increased their original content budget drastically over the last couple of years. I would be really interested to see how much of this is dedicated to their international content that is not produced in English. Surely, this has to affect the budget a substantial amount.

    On another note, I had no idea about their efforts around physical buttons, remotes and partnering with TV manufacturers. Now that I think about it, my TVs at home that use Roku have a Netflix button on them. This is genius!! And, in my opinion, goes right back to our conversations around design. In putting this button so readily in front of consumers’ eyes, Netflix is asking to be used because of this great ease of accessibility.

  6. I learned a lot about Netflix international business through this post that I truly had no idea about. It was interesting to see that they are tailoring original content to those international users. Additionally, with cell phone companies charging customers per usage of data, the compression of the data used is a brilliant idea.
    I recently have fallen out of love with Netflix due to my own interaction with the platform and the fact that I kept rewatching shows that would burn through hours of my time. I subscribed to Hulu for two months to try a competitor and because a friend recommended it to me. I think Netflix might have an issue with Hulu in the future due to the additional add-ons such as Live TV, and other subscriptions such as HBO and SHOtime. The original content is also in contention, however Netflix was the first on the scene and might be too hard to overcome. Really interesting post!

  7. I didn’t realize that you covered Netflix so much in CSOM. My favorite part about Netflix, though, is the number of times along the way that the business press said they’d never survive. They seem to have done quite well for themselves.

  8. Roark, this was a great post about Netflix. Personally I didn’t realize Netflix’s reach until studying abroad and seeing their impact overseas. In a variety of European countries, the content library varied and fit into the place I was visiting. Even speaking with people from Spain, Germany and other parts of the world, they all expressed their affinity for Netflix. I even met a few students who subscribed to a VPN service which could make them appear in nearby countries so they could gain access to other content! The most shocking part was that Netflix gained access to some content overseas that they were unable to get in the United States because licensing deals for example, Rick and Morty is available in London on Netflix but not in the US.

    The original content made in other languages proves the emphasis Netflix is placing on international growth. A strong move by them because of the danger they could face through substitutes like HBO GO. I feel Netflix currently is encouraging people to complement their TV watching experience with Netflix and even cut cable in certain cases, but surprisingly, it’s changed the way I’ve thought about TV and if I need it at all. Netflix could cut my cable bill out of my budget, but it’s made me realize the numerous kinds of entertainment which could replace TV and even in certain cases replace the Netflix experience for me.

  9. Netflix’s international success is indeed impressive. For another class, I did some research on Netflix and found that the subscriber growth is slowing down in the US but is going strong internationally. Netflix’s future success will depend on its success in other countries. Luckily for Netflix, TV entertainment is something everyone can identify with regardless of culture. I think India will become a key area for growth for Netflix. Going off if Tucker’s comment, Netflix has a strong brand in Europe. I saw ads for specific shows all over the place in Paris.

    Also, I find it a little ironic how streaming services are using the same method to distinguish themselves as cable TV of the past: original, exclusive content. It just shows how important content is in the TV business.

  10. I like that you mentioned the criticism Netflix original programming has been receiving. The movie you pointed to, Bright, showcases an interesting contrast between critical reception and user reception. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a putrid 27% critics rating but a strong 85% user approval. This might suggest that Netflix has a good idea of what their users are going to watch and like, or maybe the standards are just lower for Netflix programming. When you don’t have to debate buying a ticket and/or making a trip to the theater, your expectations might be a little lower. Regardless, as I learned researching my last blog post, critic and audience reactions don’t always align.

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