Unlike many of its competitors, Netflix It is not a platform that was born overnight within the entertainment industry. The company started with a different print run in 1997 and evolved over the years to become what it is today: the so-called “streaming giant”.
With all that in tow and taking into account the enormous amount of content it handles, Have you ever wondered what was the first catalog you offered to your subscribers? What was the point in history where you focused on the transmission of series and movies?
Well, it’s time to take a look back in time to know the moment when Netflix started exploiting the streaming business.
The origin of Netflix
There is a debate and several versions about How did Netflix originate? Reed Hastingsthe founder of the company, has given at least two or three versions about the inspiration to build his business… And the official one, to put it in some way, is linked to your experience with one of the most famous video rental chains in history.
Hastings counted a few years ago that the idea came in 1997 after Blockbuster will charge an extra charge of 40 dollarsthis for returning the film late Apollo 13. So he thought people would like a rental service that didn’t have that kind of hassle. And with the internet a potentially devastating tool, the company he co-founded with Marc Randolph would offer their DVD rental and sale service through the web, with the advantage that they would deliver it to your home.
Yes, for those who may have never delved into the confines of its history, Netflix began as an internet site where you could rent or buy a movie or a series in physical format, and they would mail it to you in the comfort of your home.
The page was officially launched in 1998 and for 1999, its monthly subscription modality was released. Already in 2000, with the moderate success it had achieved in a few years, the platform began to update its dynamics with users. implementing features to rate movieswhich would create a kind of algorithm to predict future elections.
The following years brought a complicated period where it seemed that the company was going to be shipwreckedbut then they saw the light with millions of subscriptions, improved interface and dynamics with users, significant listings on the stock market, Randolph’s departure…
In addition, the company climbed into the DVD rental market to become the direct competition of the aforementioned Blockbuster. The latter even saw the need to implement and invest heavily in a mail delivery service because, as they say colloquially, ‘they were eating their errand’.
Former Blockbuster executives must be regretting not buying Netflix when they were offered in 2000 for 50 million dollarsthis according to what co-founder Marc Randolph tells in his book That Will Never Work of 2019.
Watch Now: Entering the streaming market
Reed Hastings already knew in the late 1990s that the internet was going to be the great television channel of the whole world in the future, that yes, as long as the technologies evolved to allow the consumption of content in an adequate way. The origin of the name ‘Netflix’ is even a reference to that idea, since the etymology comes from the terms net (reference to the internet network/web) and flicks (colloquial way of referring to a movie in English, something like when we say ‘movie’).
“We named our company Netflix in 1998 because we believed that Internet-based movie rentals represented the future, first as a means to improve both service and selection and then as a means of delivering movies”Hastings said in a 2007 release when the company announced its service known as Watch Nowwhich was launched in the same year.
With that groundbreaking service, Netflix officially entered the streaming market (at the time known more as video on demand) before it was even formally known as streaming. But its forte even in those years was still the rental and sale of DVDs.
And well, What did Watch Now offer you? From the outset, the possibility of downloading the film… And the best: to be able to see it in real time from the player of the website, which is the basic principle of the platform today. Only that at the time of its launch, the feature was only enabled for desktop computers with Windows operating systems.
The subscription plans were that, for example, if you had contracted the basic package of 5.99 dollars for rent/purchase of physical formats, you could watch six hours of content on Watch Now for a month. If you had the $17.99 membership, you were entitled to 18 hours of internet content per month.
And so, you could have access to more hours of content depending on the type of package you were subscribed to. The anger was that due to network technology issues at the time, display quality was not very good and it was even below what was offered by DVDs or Blu-Rays that were becoming more and more popular.
You can also read: 8 fun facts about the streaming industry to keep on your radar
Netflix’s first streaming catalog
The company launched Watch Now in 2007 with only a thousand movies and series available. on your website. That was a pretty low number when you consider that Reed Hastings’s conglomerate had about 70 thousand titles in his possession for distribution in physical formats. Anyway, that handful of barely a thousand was his first streaming catalogue.
Curious fact: Netflix had available among its series options the House Of Cards 1990 BBC original. It was almost a harbinger of things to come in 2013 when they financed their own version in collaboration with the production house Media Rights Capital, which was the first series made exclusively for a streaming platform to win an Emmy. And well, we already know how that show ended after Kevin Spacey sex scandals.
We show you below a list with some of the contents that made up the first streaming Netflix catalog with your Watch Nowaccording to the medium thriller:
12 Monkeys (nineteen ninety five)
3 Women (1977)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Ben Hur (1959)
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
White House (1942)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
dressed to kill (1980)
Doctor Who (1963-)
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
Ghost in the Shell (nineteen ninety five)
I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
The Goodbye Girl (1977)
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
Jackass: The Movie (2002)
The Jerk (1979)
La Cage aux Folles (1979)
Lost in America (1985)
Malcolm X (1992)
North by Northwest (1959)
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
The Parallax View (1974),
Point Blank (1967)
Postcards from the Edge (1990)
royal genius (1985)
Bravo River (1959)
Run Lola Run (1998)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
A Star Is Born (1937)
Strange Brew (1983)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Time Bandits (1981)
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
What came next for Netflix
It must be said that the Netflix’s Watch Now didn’t work immediately like a massive hit. Again, due to the technology of the time, the service was implemented little by little, since it was an important mission to enable servers that would allow content to be reproduced on the Internet in an optimal way. So, as we said, still for a few more years the company sustained itself from the rental and sale of DVDs.
But over the years, Netflix’s internet streaming has taken over a lot of ground. To give you an idea, the Hastings brand beat the renowned MovieLink, which was one of the first internet sites to legally purchase movies from major film studios. The latter closed in 2008.
And the eventual fate of Blockbuster, which lost in the DVD rental business and lost relevance as the streaming market settled down.
For 2008, Netflix negotiated with major electronics brands such as Samsung, Microsoft, and Sony, among others, so that their video game consoles, Blue Ray players, smart TVs, and other devices would provide the option of downloading the company’s application. In 2010 the application for cell phones and mobile devices was enabled.
By 2011, the streaming service was already outperforming DVD rentals, so it was decided that they would separate from the same place. Netflix would be the flagship for the streaming platform and in that same year, it was announced that a new service called Qwikster It would be where people could continue renting or buying physical formats. That idea did not please the public, so Hastings and his team decided to cancel the launch of Qwikster almost a month after its reveal.
In the end, it was decided that Netflix would remain the main brand for both streaming and rental service. Now, after a few years, the company continues with the business for the sale and shipment of physical formats, only on the website DVD.COM which is your property. And well, well, it is clear everything that has happened with the parent company of Hastings that has earned the designation as “the streaming giant”.
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From DVDs to streaming: This was Netflix’s first catalog when it entered streaming