“If you’re not falling on your face,” Todd Yellin tells his team at Netflix, “you’re not leaning far enough forward to take risks.” In 2016, Yellin helped bring Netflix into more than 130 new countries, each with unique bandwidth capabilities and user behavior. Here’s how he figured out how to deliver content everywhere from India to Brazil to the Philippines.
1. After seeing how slow the internet is in some regions—leading to annoying glitches—Yellin led Netflix to reverse its decision not to offer downloads. The company’s download feature launched in November 2016.
2. Yellin learned that national identity doesn’t equal viewing identity. “My taste doppelgänger might be in Munich or São Paulo,” he says. As a result, Netflix replaced its country-specific personalization algorithms with a global one.
3. Voice-dubbing for foreign-language fare has a bad rep, but Yellin thought it could work as Netflix began debuting its shows around the world. In November 2016, it released Brazilian series 3% with an English voice-over and was happy with viewer response; Netflix will dub other programs in places where it sees potential.