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]