Perhaps no company in recent memory has been as revolutionary to the entertainment industry as Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX). Once limited largely to cable TV service, movie rentals, and VCR recordings, Netflix has helped transform the entertainment landscape to an on-demand library of streamed content. As of 2020, Netflix is available in 190 countries and boasts over 167 million paid memberships.

While most people are familiar with Netflix and its vast array of viewing choices, here are a few lesser-known facts about the leader in streamed video content.

Key Takeaways

  • Netflix, originally named Kibble, was born out of its founder's frustration with Blockbuster's rental late fees.
  • In many parts of the world, the streaming entertainment giant accounts for most of the Internet's activity.
  • In 2000, Blockbuster bypassed a $50 million deal to purchase Netflix.
  • Netflix spent approximately $15 billion on original content in 2019.

Netflix's Inception

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings came up with the idea of a better way to rent movies after getting socked with a late fee for a movie rental at Blockbuster Video. Hastings was inspired to create a service without late fees and used the money he received from the buyout of another software company to fund the venture. Netflix launched its first DVD rental service in 1998 and still has about 4 million DVD subscribers.

Netflix, Formerly Known as Kibble

The Netflix management team originally had some trouble coming up with a permanent name for the business. In its early days, Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph decided to call the company Kibble. It was the name that Randolph decided to use for test sites and legal documents but was not a name he wanted to use permanently. After several iterations and test names, Hastings and Randolph agreed on naming their business Netflix.

The company also had some branding issues when they attempted to split its DVD segment from Netflix and call it Quikster. The public hated the new name and Quikster vanished from the Netflix brand less than a month later. 

Blockbuster on Buying Netflix

This story may not be a secret, but it is rich with irony. Netflix's creation had a chance to buy it outright in 2000 for the price of $50 million. Hastings envisioned an agreement where Netflix would act as the online complement to Blockbuster's traditional brick and mortar model. Blockbuster turned down the offer.

Five years later, in 2005, Netflix was up to 4.5 million customers while Blockbuster was struggling to evolve in an Internet economy. Blockbuster, which peaked in 2004 with almost 9,000 retail locations, began struggling and filed for bankruptcy in 2010. At the end of 2017, Blockbuster operated just 9 stores, and Netflix was worth more than $40 billion. As of February 2020, only one Blockbuster location remains open in Bend, Oregon.

Netflix's Share of Internet Traffic

It is not surprising that Netflix is a bandwidth hog. What may be less known is the fact that, in many areas of the world, Netflix is the largest source of Internet activity. By some estimates, it accounts for roughly one-third of total internet traffic during peak usage periods.

$13 Billion in Original Content

Netflix spent $12 billion creating original content in 2018 and $15 billion in 2019. To put that in perspective, that's nearly equivalent to the gross domestic product of Albania and more than the GDP of many countries like Madagascar. With this war chest, the company is actively looking to focus less on licensing shows that they do not own

140 Million Hours a Day

It is estimated the average Netflix subscriber streams about 90 minutes of content every day. Given the number of subscribers who stream content daily, over 1 billion hours of content are streamed per week. 

Netflix's First Original "Show"

Netflix subscribers are likely familiar with the large library of original content that the company produces, including series such as "Orange Is the New Black" and "GLOW." However, the company was testing out video formats and capabilities long before any of those programs hit the streaming service.

An 11-minute-long video titled "Example Show" was used by Netflix as a means of testing its ability to successfully stream high-definition content. The video can be found by searching "Example Show", and trust us, it's worth the watch. The "show" features juggling, moonwalking, model trains, and a monologue from "Julius Caesar."