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It’s as hard to remember life without Netflix as it is to remember when it became such a powerful source of entertainment; a sanctuary for the perpetually bored to lose themselves in a little bit of Hollywood for three, four, five-hour periods of time. To say that Netflix is a cultural phenomenon would be a fallacy, since debuting its streaming feature in 2007, the service has bridged generations, lifestyles and borders– a veritable nation united in boredom.

Netflix, unlike numerous other success stories, has thrived by being one step ahead of consumers, causing competitors to adopt similar business plans and technologies to keep up.

Netflix History X

Netflix's Journey From Novelty To Innovator
Netflix’s Journey From Novelty To Innovator

Spurred by a $40 late fee earned for returning a VHS of Apollo 13 late, Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings first conceived the idea in 1997. Further investigation into movie rental via mail led to Hastings attempting to mail CD’s to himself. Just a disc and an envelope. His experiment worked, and he found that each disc arrived to his residence in perfect shape.

The Netflix Rises

It was Netflix’s original offer of mailed movie rentals for a low-rate that garnered the company its first influx of customers. Instead of going to the local movie rental store and browsing aisles with no particular item in mind–or worse yet, looking for a film and praying that no one else has it–customers were at the mercy of the store. Netflix offered an alternative that literally came to them, but as with all new offers: a degree of skepticism existed.

It’s easy to find reasons not to do something, and Netflix’s DVD-by-mail service became the scorn of the lazy, ill-tempered and demanding customers who had to have the desired product right now. The immediacy of the local Blockbuster or Hollywood Video was what appealed to customers at the time. There was always the chance that store wouldn’t carry a film, or maybe someone had already rented it, but the fact that the customer could check out with the film right there, and be watching it within the half-hour was the reason why movie rental companies stayed in business as long as they did. Outwardly, Netflix didn’t care. They had their customers, and their service was quality.

Sweet Netflix of Success

In 2014, it would appear that Netflix didn’t care about its detractors for a reason. Seven years ago, in 2007, Netflix introduced its streaming service, allowing members to instantly watch television shows and movies on their personal computers. It, like the original movie-by-mail concept, was received as a novelty– a luxury afforded to those with a high-speed internet connection. It may have turned out that way, had Netflix not commenced a process of integrating its streaming services with gaming consoles, Blu-ray players, and internet connected TVs the following year, leading to extended accessibility.

House of Netflix

Netflix’s next step came with the creation of new, original content. “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, which won three Primetime Emmy’s in September of 2013, and “Orange is the New Black,” a comedy-drama developed by Jenji Cohen of “Weeds” fame was released the same summer to rave reviews.

Netflix’s streaming service took the immediacy of going to the local RST Video shop, with the convenience of one’s own home. Added to the mix was Netflix’s extensive, yet not flawless, catalogue, which offered a much more extensive set of options for the viewer than a video store could hope to. The feature took a company that bullied its way onto the movie rental scene by offering a service no one else had utilized, and then broke new ground by offering a service no one had conceived.

Netflix of the Year

What makes the service so remarkable is that the company didn’t seem to target one specific demographic, but its services have become so popular among different age groups. In particular, college students are susceptible to bouts of “binge watching,” or watching three or more episodes of an hour-long television program. While hardly a phenomenon associated with Netflix exclusively, cases of binge watching have gone up astronomically in society since the streaming service became available, so much so that it is no longer an abnormality.

Netflix accounts for ⅓ of Internet traffic in the United States, with the average Netflix stream user viewing 87 minutes of video a day. Recently, Netflix–with its 29.2 million subscribers–surpassed HBO as the United States’ most-watched cable network. It’s popularity has literally put an end to countless movie rental stores, and forced the survivors to adopt a streaming service of their own.

The term “Netflix” has wormed its way into the vernacular of many with a universality reserved for terms like “Google,” “Xerox,” or even “Kleenex.”

Today’s guest blogger is Shane Russo, a business communications and finance writer. His blog, SmartTollFreeNumber.com, covers everything from globalization to establishing a local presence with the right business tools.