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Chart of the day: The incredible rise of Netflix, from mailboxes to Letterman

What a decade.

Barack Obama and David Letterman Netflix / Joe Pugliese

After reporting its biggest quarter in its history — 8.3 million new global subscribers — it’s worth re-noting just how quickly Netflix has grown from a fledgling DVDs-by-mail service to the world’s top paid streaming service, becoming a huge cultural and commercial force in the process.

How? In part by funding and supporting creatives in a way the legacy TV industry just wouldn’t. See, for example, its Golden Globes win earlier this month for the acclaimed “Master of None.” But in terms of building and pushing hits, Netflix’s size helps, too. And its subscriber base continues to grow.

A decade ago, at the end of 2007, there were 98 million paid TV subscribers in the U.S., Hulu was just getting started, and Netflix was a mostly-DVD service with 7.5 million subscribers. Yesterday, Netflix announced that it finished 2017 with almost 55 million U.S. memberships and about 118 million global subscriptions.

Over the past decade, that’s up 47 million subscribers. For context, the pay TV market has lost about 4 million subs during that time, according to Kagan, S&P Global Market Intelligence. Rival streaming services like Hulu and HBO Now have grown, too, but not nearly as fast.

Of course, plenty of people pay for cable TV along with streaming-only services. And many of Amazon Prime’s estimated 70 million customers watch Prime Video, which has become a real competitor, too. The pay TV firms are also averaging around $100 per subscription, compared to the $11 that Netflix charges for its standard package.

But it’s clear that Netflix is driving real change in the TV world. If Disney is allowed to buy Fox, as it’s currently trying, it is as much about trying to compete with Netflix as it is about anything else.

This article originally appeared on

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