Netflix started out as a tiny DVD-by-mail service in 1997, overlooked by Hollywood and almost everyone else.
Now we’re all watching Netflix, all the time.
With nearly 200 million subscribers around the world, Netflix owns the streaming business. But more than that: It’s increasingly defining what entertainment is and how we expect to consume it.
The idea that we could hit a button and watch nearly anything we want, whenever we want, without an ad, seemed like a fantasy when Netflix first launched. Now it’s a given. And while other media companies like Disney have struggled during the pandemic, Netflix has thrived.
So in this season of Vox Media’s Land of the Giants podcast series, we talk to the people who founded the company and the ones who run it today — as well as its competitors, critics, and creators. There’s a lot to talk about.
We’ve gone back in time to find out how Netflix developed its prized and very strange corporate culture that eschews strict expense policies but also expects employees to tell their peers when they fail. We look at why Blockbuster should have vanquished Netflix but killed itself instead. We check out Netflix’s vaunted recommendation algorithm and wonder if it’s getting you the content you want or just the content Netflix makes. We explore the company’s complicated relationship with Hollywood, which used to ignore Netflix, then saw it as easy money, and is now racing to catch up. And we also ask what a Netflix world means for the people who make TV shows and movies and what all of that means for you.
This is a business story and a tech story. And, most important, it’s a story about our culture, and how it’s being defined by a company that started out in Silicon Valley, moved to Hollywood, and now has its sights on the whole world.
The first episode of Land of the Giants: The Netflix Effect comes out on June 23. You can find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Listen to the trailer below.