On This Day: Netflix is born

On this day in 1997, Netflix was founded by two American entrepreneurs Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph.

The duo came up with the idea for Netflix during their daily commute and later tested it by posting a DVD to their homes in Santa Cruz.

When the DVD arrived in perfect condition, they decided it was time to break into the market with their revolutionary rent-by-mail DVD service.

Operating out of Scotts Valley, California, Netflix launched its DVD rental service in 1998. Customers rented movies online and received them later in the post – hence the name Netflix, which is an abbreviation of “internet” and “flicks.”

Back then, Netflix had just under 1,000 movies that customers could rent for around $4 each, plus $2 postage, for a maximum of seven days.

The entrance to the Netflix headquarters building in Los Gatos in California.
Netflix was founded in 1997 by two American entrepreneurs Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph. Source: Getty Images

What were the first original Netflix shows?

Within a decade, Netflix transformed into the online streaming service as we now know it.

Netflix introduced its own original programming in 2013, which included titles such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Hemlock Grove, The Square and Arrested Development.

The release of House of Cards marked a shift for Netflix, as it received 33 Primetime Emmy nominations that year and later won seven – making Netflix the first internet TV network to win a Primetime Emmy.

The first Netflix original feature film Beasts of No Nation – an American-Ghanaian war drama film by Cary Joji Fukunaga – was released in 2015 and received 32 awards, including Best Picture.

What was the response?

Following the success of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black in 2013, Netflix won over 204 awards from 480 nominations with their original content.

Netflix has since taken home 15 Academy Awards, one Grammy Award, 22 Golden Globe Awards and 112 Emmy Awards for TV shows and movies including Narcos, Stranger Things, The Crown, Marriage Story and foreign film, Roma.

However, House of Cards remains the most highly-acclaimed Netflix series ever made.

hands holding an ipad watching house of cards on netflix
House of Cards is Netflix's most acclaimed original TV series ever made. Source: Getty

What happened next?

After becoming an award-winning service, Netflix launched a phone playing the original series Star Trek: Discovery into space in 2016 to celebrate the company’s global expansion into 190 countries.

Netflix continued to expand their collection of original TV series and movies in the later years – spending $12 billion building its library of original films and series in 2018, as a strategy to backfill its library.

Fast forward to today, Netflix streams to over 200 million paid subscribers in 190 countries and the slang phrase “Netflix and chill” has even found its way into the dictionary.

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