The World's Most Innovative Companies 2018
Netflix is an American entertainment company specializing in online on-demand streaming video.
In 2018, Netflix innovated on choose-your-own-adventure programming, presenting a vision for interactive television, particularly with its release of its Black Mirror movie, Bandersnatch.
Founded in Scotts Valley, California, in 1997, Netflix began its current subscription model in 1999. Now the company has over 117 million subscribers in 190 countries. Most of the platform's available TV shows, movies, performances, and documentaries are licensed from distribution partners. But in 2011, Netflix began beefing up its original content, investing in its own original series like Orange Is the New Black and political drama House of Cards, as well as acquiring the rights to shows like Lilyhammer and the fourth season of Arrested Development. In 2017, Netflix began an aggressive foray into producing feature films, aiming to release 80--more than all of the Hollywood studios’ annual slates combined--in 2018. Unlike traditional broadcasters, Netflix's goal isn't to appeal to as broad an audience as possible but rather to cater to niches and effectively give every slice of the population a show or movie they can't live without. Though Netflix is widely considered to be the platform that is winning the streaming-video wars, it has not rested on its laurels when it comes to improving the service. In December 2016, it rolled out a major user interface upgrade, replacing static poster images with custom-created preview videos that automatically play when you scroll over a title card. The redesign, which required a combination of creativity and data science insights, encourages Netflix's subscribers to serendipitously discover what to watch rather than tediously browse its catalog and wonder if something is worth sampling.
The company also unleashed a download-and-go feature that allows users to watch shows offline, and has expanded into 130 new countries. This effort was followed up by a push to improve Netflix’s mobile experience, which is important as the company expands into foreign territories where people prefer to watch video on their phones. In 2017, Netflix enabled faster menu scrolling on mobile devices, and changed the way content is encoded so that more static video scenes require fewer bits. This allows users to stream content more efficiently when using a phone, when internet quality can be spotty. These upgrades were companywide efforts that took years, demonstrating Netflix's commitment to standing out from competitors such as Amazon for more than just content--though Netflix is planning to plow $8 billion into its library in 2018, a figure that far outpaces its rivals.