When I was ten years old I was obsessed with the Godzilla movies. I didn’t know why Godzilla captivated and demanded my attention: Godzilla is a collection of low budget, poorly written, action thrillers about this massive mutant lizard that goes around fighting other enormous mutant monsters. I knew the movies were bad, but I just couldn’t help watching every single one of them. Watching every Godzilla movie was a larger task than expected. There are a total of thirty nine movies. Thankfully, by some stroke of luck, Netflix had almost every single one of them.
I queued up every movie hat had anything to do with Godzilla in the title for rental and prepared to embark on the adventure that was Godzilla. Around wednesday every week I went to my mailbox to find in little white and red envelopes boldly labeled “NETFLIX” that held my beloved movies. I couldn’t wait for the weekend to watch Godzilla battle a new foe. After I was done with those movie, I put them back into their respective envelopes, sent those in the mail, and waited for my next shipment of rental movies to come in from Netflix.
Netflix is a multinational entertainment service, services being mail-in DVD subscription, and online movie and television streaming. Founded in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in Scotts Valley, California, the company Netflix over nineteen years of functionality is now a household name, accounting for twenty three percent of North American web traffic and 83 million subscribers worldwide. Netflix changed the way the general public interact with movies and television. Netflix was founded in response to Hasting’s poor interaction with Blockbuster’s DVD rental service where he had to pay forty dollars in late fee’s for a single movie.
Hasting decided right then and there that he would invest a portion of his newly found money from selling his software company to fund a new venture, an online movie rental service that would undermine Blockbuster following the model of accessibility for its customers. Netflix started its service in 1998 with a small collection of movies (295 different films total) and a daunting, unknown future ahead of it. Throughout the early years of Netflix, Hastings and Randolph had to find a ways to compete with Blockbuster so that Netflix could grow.
Netflix began rebranding themselves over and over becoming more accessible and useful for users every time. An example of this rebranding for accessibility is when Netflix switched from pay-per rental model to a monthly subscription model. Netflix found new and innovative ways to make watching movies easier for its users. What drew me to Netflix was it’s wide variety and ease of getting the movies I wanted. How I interacted with Netflix is what made it so much better than a brick and mortar movie rental service. I did not have to search shelf by shelf to find a movie that could quite possibly not even be in the store.
With Netflix I could simply type in the movie I was looking for and be told right then and there if my selection was available. Moreover, I was never worried of Netflix not having my selection because Netflix rarely failed to supply and if it did, it gave me suggestions of movies within its library that are similar to the movie I was originally looking for. I could always find something to watch when using Netflix. In 2006 Netflix launched its online streaming utility. With this new service, not only could a subscriber hold and cycle up to eight movie rentals at a time, but they also had access to Netflix’s expansive online library.
As Netflix’s online presence became more prominent, the company began to split its image; Netflix separated its physical DVD rentals and online streaming service. Netflix became accessible on nearly any device that had internet connection putting it at the forefront of online entertainment streaming. People no longer went out to rent new movies, instead they found everything they needed without ever needing to leave their house. Online streaming transformed how I experienced movies. It no longer became such an investment deciding what movie to watch.
With streaming I was able to start a movie knowing that if I don’t like it, I could stop at any point and play another movie. This gave me the opportunity to take “risks” when watching movies. Streaming allowed me to watch independent films with unconventional styles and topics that I never seen before. Netflix exposed me to movies, documentaries, and shows that were far too bizarre for me to ever watch with a traditional media service. Streaming allowed me to start and binge watch television shows that I would have otherwise had to wait for a certain time once a week to watch.
Streaming was yet another thing that made Netflix more accessible. After the huge success that was online movie streaming, other streaming services materialized and competed with Netflix. Netflix needed to take another step at expanding their business to stay ahead of its competition. Netflix began to produce original movies and television series. This risky buisness plan was to bring visibility to the site and pull in more subscribers. In 2013 Netflix premiered its multiple emmy winning political drama series, House of Cards. Being a Netflix original, only Netflix subscribers were able to watch this show that critics were raving about.
This example and many more like it brought multitudes of users to Netflix. For even more exclusivity, Netflix made deals with major and minor production companies like Dreamworks, Sony animation, and Walt Disney Studios giving Netflix exclusive streaming rights for any and all movies from these and other companies. As Netflix jockeys with other online streaming services like HBO GO, Hulu, and Amazon instant video, it will continue to rebrand and make deals to stay one step ahead of its competition. Because of the exceptional service that Netflix had to offer over the years, I have never felt the need to use another entertainment provider.
From the days of my unexplainable Godzilla obsession to today’s binge watching of any show or movies that look slightly interesting to me, Netflix has captivated my time and attention for years. When I was young, Netflix found a way to place itself as the main event of my weekends. Now it demands my attention even more being the preeminent activity during any free time I ever get the pleasure of obtaining. Netflix, because of its ever increasing accessibility, is an obsession, or quite possibly an addiction for many people including myself.