Netflix

For creating great TV in a new context, using an already-proven model.

What does it mean to be an innovator? Our editors debated many companies--and and throughout the list, we're running some of their discussions. This is how we settled on Netflix.

NAY: I get it--Netflix shows are good. So? HBO has been making good shows for years.

YEA: You miss the point. ­Original programming creates leverage with studios to get premium content like The Avengers.

NAY: That didn't stop it from ­losing the rights to 90-odd titles in 2013, including Titanic. The irony!

YEA: Netflix isn't sinking--it's ­making waves. It has turned the TV network into an app, ­available on any device. Every channel, plus Amazon and Yahoo, are now following.

NAY: Like HBO Go, which came out three years ago?

YEA: Go was HBO's Netflix. This isn't just about delivery; it's about content. Rivals, including HBO, are mimicking Netflix by ordering series made for binge-watching. It's the era of the 13-hour movie, no cliff-hangers or act breaks required.

NAY: House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black had cliff-hangers.

YEA: The better to make you binge-watch. Arrested Development didn't, though. It was the kind of thing only Netflix could pull off. Form-breaking TV is just getting started.

NAY: Maybe I'm angry because I still pay for cable.

Conclusion: Yea!
Successfully applying a proven model in a new context is innovative. Netflix added its own bravura to the cable-TV formula of growing through original programming, along the way strengthening its business, creating new freedom for TV showrunners, and cementing binge-viewing into the cultural landscape.

[Illustration by Richard Perez]