Netflix turned 26 on Tuesday and the streaming service is a far cry from where it started in the late 90s. Netflix went from offering DVDs in the mail with a pay-per-rental model, to hosting thousands of movies and TV shows that subscribers can access from almost anywhere on multiple devices.
Netflix launched its streaming service in 2007 and amassed 20 million subscribers over the next three years. Today, Netflix is synonymous watching movies and TV shows. It boasts over 235 million subscribers for the second quarter of 2023, according to Statista, a 5.89 million increase from Q1.
The service sought to level up in 2012 by moving into original programming with comedy-drama Lilyhammer. In 2013, Netflix aired House of Cards, an exclusive political drama series, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. The show became the first original online-only TV series to be earn Emmy nominations.
“In a way, it solidifies that television is television, no matter what pipe brings it to the screen,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer told The New York Times that year.
Since then, Netflix Originals like Stranger Things, Squid Game and The Crown have scooped up dozens of Emmys. The streaming service claimed its first Oscar for The White Helmets, which won Best Documentary Short Subject in 2017. Now it’s commonplace for a show or movie exclusive to a streaming service to garner critical acclaim during awards season.
Netflix expanded into mobile gaming in 2021 and now houses titles like Oxenfree and Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals, Kentucky Route Zero and The Queen’s Gambit Chess. Like Apple Arcade, Netflix’s gaming service freed players from in-app purchases and ads. The service also experimented with interactive content with the release of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Subscribers could make multiple choices while watching the movie that would result in several different endings.
Like other subscription services — streaming or otherwise — Netflix saw a subscriber boom amid the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak. As life returned to normal, the service’s numbers dropped. Another million subscribers abandoned the platform after price hikes in 2022 but gained 2.6 million subscribers after cracking down on password-sharing this year.
It’s likely Netflix will continue adding new content and old favorites, as well as producing Originals, going forward. Netflix wasn’t immediately available for comment.