Netflix in brief
Starting price: $8.99 per month
Compatible Devices: Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Smart TV, web browsers, iPhone and iPad, Android phones and tablets, Chromecast
Simultaneous streams: 1 ($8.99 plan), 2 ($12.99 plan), and 4 ($15.99 plan)
Netflix is an almost ubiquitous presence in most people’s lives, if they consume entertainment. In nearly a quarter of a century, Netflix has become one of the best-known entertainment brands in history. It’s even inspired new language: phrases like “Netflix and chill” and “the Netflix effect.”
Since launching its streaming service in 2012, Netflix has grown into a giant media company with over 167 million subscribers worldwide. It revolutionized the entertainment media landscape and completely upended the television industry. Most media companies have or are planning to introduce their own streaming services in order to stay competitive.
Netflix has also been a game-changer when it comes to content, pumping millions into the production of original shows and movies. It even became an Oscar contender, with original films Roma, Marriage Story and The Irishman earning Best Picture nominations.
Here’s everything you need to know about Netflix.
- Netflix: What is it and how does it work?
- Netflix plans and prices
- Netflix Content: Library and Licensing Deals
- Netflix Movies and Shows: Original Programming
- Netflix devices: on which devices is it available?
- Netflix streaming requirements: How fast should my internet speed be to stream?
- Netflix Ads: Are there any ads?
- Netflix subscription: how to cancel?
- Netflix vs the rest: how does it compare to Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus?
Netflix: What is it and how does it work?
Netflix started in 1997 as a DVD rental business, mailing out DVD discs to subscribers in bright red envelopes. In 2007, the company expanded by launching an OTT streaming service. “Over the top” services are provided over the Internet, rather than on a cable company’s or telephone company’s dedicated line.
In 2012, Netflix further developed its business model by offering exclusive original content to its subscribers. These originals included international series that Netflix imported to American viewers (like Lilyhammer) as well as American shows specially produced and commissioned by Netflix (like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black).
Netflix stocks a huge library of content that includes movies and TV shows in many genres, from crime dramas and animated comedies to nature documentaries and children’s programs. The company works with internet service providers to ensure fast and smooth delivery of this content to your TV or other streaming device.
Netflix plans and prices
Netflix offers a 30-day free trial. After that, you can sign up for one of three monthly subscription plans, which offer a range of simultaneous streams and different levels of video resolution.
Basic Package ($8.99): Limited to one screen at a time and standard definition (SD) resolution.
Standard ($12.99): Users can watch on two screens at once in high definition (HD).
Premium ($15.99): Four simultaneous streams with content in HD and 4K Ultra HD, if available.
In the United States, Netflix still continues to offer monthly plans with DVDs by mail, accessible on dvd.netflix.com. Here are the DVD delivery plans:
Standard ($7.99 for DVD, $9.99 for Blu-ray): Subscribers receive one disc at a time for an unlimited time. Once they resend the disc, Netflix sends the next title to the queue.
Premier ($11.99 for DVD, $14.99 for Blu-ray): Subscribers receive two discs at a time, also for an unlimited time.
Netflix Content: Library and Licensing Deals
Netflix has a massive library of content, consisting of movies and shows licensed from other media companies, as well as Netflix-exclusive originals.
Netflix has licensed content from all major studios including Warner Bros., Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Sony, Universal Pictures and more. These agreements fluctuate however; especially now that many of these companies now have or will soon have their own streaming services.
The licensing deals have been good for Netflix and the studios/production companies. For example, Netflix acquired the rights to Breaking Bad from Sony Pictures Television in 2010, when the show was a critical but little-watched darling. The cable network, AMC, was considering canceling it. Sony pushed Netflix to air the first three seasons before season 4 premiered. This exposed the series to more people, and by the time Breaking Bad season 5 aired, the show’s viewership had double. Breaking Bad is considered the primary beneficiary of the so-called “Netflix Effect”.
Netflix also licenses movies and shows from around the world. In some cases, these titles are presented as Netflix Originals. Read on to know more about it.
Netflix Movies and Shows: Original Programming
In 2012, Netflix started rolling out originals. The first was Lilyhammer, a Norwegian drama that the streamer brought to US viewers as an exclusive. Next came House of Cards, ordered by Netflix after winning a bidding war against HBO, Showtime and AMC.
Since then, Netflix has released dozens of original shows and movies. It has partnered with Marvel to release five superhero series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders). Recent popular dramas include the witcher, The Umbrella Academy and Altered carbon.
On the comedy side, Netflix released Orange Is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, BoJack Horseman, GLOW, Sex education and more. Netflix has also signed deals for stand-up comedy specials from great comedians such as Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer, Kevin Hart and Seth Meyers.
And Netflix also releases lots of original content for kids, like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power; Voltron: legendary defender; Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia; and Fast & Furious Spy Racers.
Netflix devices: on which devices is it available?
Netflix can be accessed through web browsers on your computer or through the app on most major devices, such as TVs and cell phones. Here are the devices you can use to watch Netflix:
- Web browsers on PC and Mac
- iOS mobile devices
- Android mobile devices
- Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets
- Smart TVs (most manufacturers)
- Game consoles (Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, etc.)
- Cable boxes (check with your provider)
- Blu-ray players (most manufacturers)
Netflix streaming requirements: How fast should my internet speed be to stream?
Netflix helpfully offers these guidelines on the internet speed required to watch content on its platform.
- 0.5 megabits per second – Broadband connection speed required
- 1.5 megabits per second – Recommended broadband connection speed
- 3.0 megabits per second – Recommended for SD quality
- 5.0 megabits per second – Recommended for HD quality
- 25 megabits per second – Recommended for Ultra HD quality
Netflix Ads: Are there any ads?
Netflix is deemed ad-free. The service makes money on its subscriptions.
Netflix subscription: how to cancel?
Go to your Netflix account page and click the Cancel Subscription button. You can continue to watch Netflix until the end of the current billing period.
Netflix retains your viewing activity for 10 months, so if you cancel and then decide to return to the service, you can pick up where you left off.
Netflix vs the rest: how does it compare to Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus?
Netflix’s main competitors in on-demand streaming are Hulu, Amazon Prime and Disney+. All three offer large content libraries as well as original programming.
Hulu’s basic plan costs $5.99 per month, but you’ll have to go through ads. Amazon Prime Video comes with a Prime subscription, which is $119 per year ($9.92 per month). And Disney Plus costs $6.99 a month for ad-free access to its slew of family-friendly movies and shows, plus online exclusives like The Mandalorian and the next Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Wanda Vision.