- Netflix is writing the playbook for global entertainment.
- The streaming company reshaped the market for content and transformed its business in the process.
- It’s exploring areas including video games for its next frontier.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Since Netflix began its worldwide expansion in 2016, the streaming service has rewritten the playbook for global entertainment — from TV to film, and, soon, video games.
Hollywood used to exports most global hit series and movies. Now, thanks to Netflix’s investments in international TV and film, programming like South Korea’s “Squid Game,” Spain’s “Money Heist,” and France’s “Lupin” are finding massive audiences around the world.
Netflix figured out that to thrive on an international stage it needed both US mass-market programming like “Stranger Things,” as well as local content that could win over viewers in specific markets (and produce breakout hits).
The strategy helped the streaming service grow its customer base to 214 million global paid subscribers, as of September.
Its momentum is also reinvigorating production in places like Germany, Mexico, and India, as companies like Amazon, Disney, WarnerMedia, and Apple follow Netflix’s lead.
Netflix has reoriented its leadership around its new global model.
The streaming company, cofounded by tech entrepreneur Reed Hastings, promoted content chief Ted Sarandos to co-CEO in 2020, which cemented the status of content within the organization. Meanwhile, Bela Bajaria, who had been in charge of international non-English TV, took the reins of the overall TV business, and product chief Greg Peters took on additional duties as COO, including streamlining how global teams work together. Peters also hired a new talent chief with international experience, former PepsiCo executive Sergio Ezama, to lead Netflix’s global workforce.
The company has also formed an elite team of 23 interdisciplinary execs to help make its biggest decisions. Known internally as the “Lstaff ” — the “L” stands for leadership — the group sits between the company’s officers and its larger executive staff of vice presidents and above, who are called the “Estaff.”
Netflix’s growth has made it a desirable place to work in recent years, as well, despite some of the tests its corporate culture has faced as it’s grown. Public US work-visa data shows that Netflix, which says its pays staffers “market value,” has offered six-figure annual base salaries for lots of roles in engineering, content, marketing, finance, and more.
Netflix is searching for its next frontier
Still, Netflix is facing more competition than ever from an influx of rivals that are learning to play its game.
Nearly every major media company, from Disney to WarnerMedia, now runs a streaming service. Their platforms are stockpiled with tentpole movies and TV shows that used to only be found in theaters or on linear TV, and their libraries now rival Netflix’s.
The competition is pushing the streaming giant to keep evolving.
Netflix recently expanded into podcasting and even started peddling merchandise for series like “Squid Game” and “The Witcher.”
The company is also bringing video games into its mobile streaming app.
It hired in July Facebook’s former head of Reality Labs, Mike Verdu, as its vice president of game development, and has been hiring for other video-game-related jobs.
The streamer plans to approach gaming like it did movies and TV shows. It’s starting slowly. It’s commissioning and licensing mobile games, some of which are based on existing franchises like “Stranger Things.” Then, it plans to experiment with other kinds of video-game storytelling, like it did with its original series.
“Maybe someday we’ll see a game that spawns a film or a series,” Peters told investors in July. “That would be an amazing place to get to and really see the rich interplay between these sort of different forms of entertainment.”
Here’s a list of our recent coverage of how Netflix is disrupting facets of the entertainment industry:
The Netflix effect on global TV:
- Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ is part of a robust international TV strategy that’s far ahead of rivals, especially in South Korea
- 10 reasons ‘Squid Game’ became a global phenomenon, according to a Netflix marketing exec
- Netflix’s Q3 subscriber growth was fueled by the Asia-Pacific market. Exclusive traffic data shows how hits like ‘Squid Game’ drove engagement.
- ‘Squid Game’ and other Netflix hits may have reversed the streamer’s growth slump, exclusive app data suggests
- International TV producers describe how streaming competition is changing their markets, from Netflix’s shifting priorities to rising budgets and costs
- How Netflix’s strategy for buying international TV shows is changing
- Netflix’s Mark Millar plans to build a streaming superhero universe starting with ‘Jupiter’s Legacy,’ after inspiring some of Marvel’s biggest stories
- Data shows how heavily Netflix is leaning into international TV shows, especially in its upcoming projects
- How to sell a show to Netflix with the help of an easily digestible pitch document, according to a workshop by one of the streamer’s execs
- A Netflix slide deck shows how it’s trying to fix lofty problems in personalization like over-inflating a show’s popularity and how to measure goals like ‘joy’
- Netflix is courting Hollywood filmmakers like “Tenet” director Christopher Nolan
- How Zack Snyder fits into Netflix’s plans to build franchises to compete with Disney and WarnerMedia
On video gaming:
Netflix’s evolving business model and corporate structure:
- Netflix org chart: We identified the 71 most powerful people at the streamer and who they report to
- How top HR execs at Hollywood companies like Netflix and NBCU work to fight pandemic burnout and keep staff from quitting amid the Great Resignation
- Meet the top data science execs at Netflix, Disney, WarnerMedia, and more Hollywood companies who are masterminding the streaming wars and hiring hundreds of new workers
- An internal Netflix meeting meant for senior staffers played a role in the streamer’s recent clash with employees. Here’s what happens at the quarterly reviews.
- The 15 most powerful marketing leaders in the streaming-video wars, from Netflix’s Bozoma Saint John to the trio of execs driving Disney’s strategy
- Netflix has hired former PepsiCo exec Sergio Ezama as its next chief talent officer
- Netflix lays out its M&A strategy, and experts weigh in on the kinds of companies it could buy
- 8 top legal execs at Netflix who are helping the streamer navigate complex content deals and international regulations
- 12 deputies under Netflix’s product boss Greg Peters, as his responsibilities grow to include new areas like video games
- Netflix’s global TV boss Bela Bajaria is shaking up the content division, making new hires and big promotions. Meet her team.
- Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John is building her marketing team, which includes execs from Spotify and Condé Nast
- Netflix has an elite ‘Lstaff’ team of 23 execs that helps make the company’s biggest decisions
Netflix’s growth trajectory:
- Exclusive web-tracking data from Q2 2020 suggests people are streaming less coming out of lockdowns but are keeping Netflix, for now
- We estimated how much Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, and more are making from the subscribers they gained this past year
- Netflix has kept churn low despite price hikes and intensifying competition, and it could be a key to success during a tough 2021
- Netflix’s original series dominate the streaming TV landscape, but its ‘demand share’ shrank in 2020 as rivals emerged
- Netflix salaries revealed: How much engineers, marketers, content execs, and others get paid
- How much Netflix pays engineers in the US in 2021
- What data chiefs at companies like Netflix and Roku look for when hiring: technical prowess and an appetite for the ‘unsolvable, unmeasurable, or unknowable’
- Netflix shares the inclusion strategy that helped it improve Black representation in its leadership and the areas it needs to do better in like recruiting Latinx staffers