19 things you didn't know about Netflix

NetflixLife without Netflix is hard to imagine.
  • Netflix was originally called “kibble.”
  • It’s technically been around longer than Google.
  • Netflix is responsible for 15% of the world’s internet traffic.

It’s hard to imagine life without Netflix, but there’s a lot you probably don’t know about the popular streaming service.

Read on to learn 19 facts about Netflix, from what it was originally called to how you can search for niche categories.

In its early stages, Netflix had a different name.

chendongshan/ iStockThe first name was ‘Kibble.’

Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph told Fortune that the streaming service was originally called Kibble. Although the name was simply a placeholder, it referred to the idea that a product isn’t a success unless “the dogs eat the dog food,” as he phrased it.

In the future, there could be an “Ultra” membership tier.

NetflixThere might be an Ultra membership.

In July, word got out (via the Italian blog Tutto Android) that Netflix would start offering members a new tier of service. The so-called Ultra plan would allow users to stream Ultra HD video and audio on up to four devices at once.

Currently, those with a Netflix subscription can choose one of three options that determine how many device screens they can watch simultaneously. A Basic plan costs $US7.99, with Standard and Premium plans going for $US10.99 and $US13.99, respectively.

The Ultra tier is still in development, as Netflix spokesperson Smita Saran explained in an email to consumer electronics site CNET.

“We continuously test new things at Netflix and these tests typically vary in length of time,” Saran wrote. “In this case, we are testing slightly different price points and features to better understand how consumers value Netflix.”

Netflix made a goofy test film ― and you can still watch it.

NetflixA still from ‘Example Show.’

You may have thought that “House of Cards” was the first original content that Netflix produced. But the service’s first “original series” was actually a 2010 project called “Example Show.”

The 11-minute test video (which you can watch here) is pretty goofy. “Actor,” the episode’s star, performs feats such as moon-walking while holding a laptop and reciting a monologue from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

If that doesn’t sound wild enough, the video is inexplicably subtitled with the line “There’s no crying in baseball,” which was borrowed from the film “A League of Their Own.”

Blockbuster almost bought Netflix.

In 2000, Netflix’s co-founder, Reed Hastings, asked former Blockbuster CEO John Antioco if he would buy the company for $US50 million. Antioco turned down the offer because the mail-based DVD rental business seemed too niche.

The now-defunct video store chain (which actually has one location left in Bend, Oregon) lost out big time. Last year alone, Netflix’s revenue came out to a whopping $US11.69 billion.

Netflix is responsible for 15% of the world’s internet traffic.

NetflixNetflix is 15% of global internet bandwidth.

Bandwidth management company Sandvine reported that, as of 2018, Netflix accounted for 15% of global internet traffic. And if it didn’t compress its videos, that percentage could have been three times as high.

The streaming service once hosted its own awards ceremony, The Flixies.

NetflixThis award show was fan based.

In 2013, Netflix hosted an awards ceremony aptly titled “The Flixies.” The fan-based awards allowed viewers to vote for their favourite entries in fun categories such as “Best Guilty Pleasure” and “Best Hangover Cure.”

Netflix has technically been around longer than Google.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesNetflix was founded in 1997.

Although Netflix didn’t begin renting out DVDs by mail until 1998, the company was founded in 1997― making it a year older than Google.

Glitches can be aggravating for viewers, but one Netflix bug created hilarious mashup descriptions.

ShutterstockThings merged with hilarious results.

A 2014 glitch caused plot summaries from different movies to merge, and hilarity ensued. For instance, one description read: “In a backwater Iowa town, young Gilbert is torn between taking care of his troubled family and a girl who shows him new passion and bounty hunters.”

There’s even a Twitter account dedicated to the humorous summaries, @SummaryBug.

There’s a secret menu you can access to adjust bit rate and buffering.

NetflixNetflix buffering.

According to Entertainment Weekly, you can access this diagnostic screen by pressing Shift + Alt + Left Click on a PC or Shift + Option + Click on a Mac.

There are even hacks geared toward parents with young kids.

NetflixNetflix’s kid option.

HuffPost suggests setting a four-digit pin to block content with more mature TV ratings, as well as specific programs that might be inappropriate.

You can also disable autoplay to discourage endless binge-watching.

Netflix is available in more than 190 countries from Australia to Turkey, but it’s the most popular in the US.

Nastco/ iStockNetflix is most popular in the US.

In a recent study, the market research company eMarketer analysed Netflix’s global penetration. Researchers found that the streaming service is the most popular in the US, tailed closely by Norway and Canada.

Worldwide, Netflix has more than 137 million subscribers.

NicoElNino/ iStockNetflix has subscribers all around the world.

Of that subscription base, more than 58 million users live in the US.

On average, Netflix users spend less than two minutes browsing.

NetflixUsers look at 10 to 20 titles.

In 2016, Netflix analysed how long it took the average user to select a show or movie. According to the study, which was published in the journal ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems, most people browsed for just 60 to 90 seconds before giving up. During that window, users typically looked at 10 to 20 titles.

Netflix cares about the series we binge-watch, and how quickly we marathon these shows.

NetflixNetflix knows which shows are binge worthy.

Netflix published a list of the most binge-watched series of 2017. The list was divided into categories such as “The Shows We Devoured” (content that people watched two hours at a time) and “The Shows We Savoured” (shows people watched for fewer than two hours a day).

The mockumentary “American Vandal” topped the “Devoured” section, while royal drama “The Crown” earned first place in the “Savoured” contingent.

Netflix pays people to watch and categorise content.

Goran Bogicevic/ShutterstockPeople watch the shows and then categorise them.

If you want to get paid to watch TV, your dream job awaits at Netflix. The company hires people to “tag,” or categorise, shows and movies with relevant metadata about its content. Although taggers label more mundane information, like who directed the episode or film, they’re also responsible for crafting niche descriptions.

“We work with a sprawling palette of tones and storylines to capture the spirit of our content, and when it comes to those sorts of tags, we can be more editorial,” Sherrie Gulmahamad, a senior member of the tagging team, said in an interview with Fast Company.

There are more than 76,000 categories or “micro-genres.”

NetflixThere are lots of different genres.

Some of Netflix’s 76,000-plus categories are more general, like “Epics.” Others are highly specific. Whether you’re looking for an “Inspiring Teen Movie” or a “Romantic Independent Drama,” Netflix has a sub-genre to suit viewers’ eclectic tastes.

Each category is assigned a unique code, which you can type into your browser. To bring up the “Epics” menu, for example, you would use the following URL: http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/52858.

In 2014, Netflix became the first streaming service to win a major award for original content.

Netflix‘House of Cards’ is a Netflix Original Series.

That year, Robin Wright won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama for her performance as Claire Underwood on “House of Cards.”

Spoilers are becoming more of a norm, according to a Netflix study.

Alex Lane / Flickr, CCThere are different types of people who spoil TV shows.

Netflix conducted a study, with the help of Grant McCracken, a cultural anthropologist, to see how it’s audience felt about spoilers.

Netflix and McCracken identified multiple types of “spoilers” including the “impulsive”, “shameless” and “coded” spoiler.

McCracken ultimately commented that spoilers are becoming less important because a good TV show will have you wanting to continue to watch, even if you know spoilers.

You can take a test to become a translator for Netflix.


In 2017, Netflix launched HERMES, a tool that the company uses to vet would-be translators around the globe. According to a post on the Netflix Tech Blog, HERMES is the premiere online subtitling and translation test administered by a major content creator.

The five-part test comprises thousands of randomly generated multiple-choice questions that gauge an applicant’s comprehension of English, as well as their ability to translate English idioms into their target language.


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