Recommended for you: 23 facts about Netflix for the company’s 23rd anniversary


It’s a staple in homes all over the globe, on televisions and computers and tablets and phones. It redefined the word “binge,” it changed the way we watch TV and movies, it even became a euphemism for casual, uh, dating.

You know what I’m talking about by now, right? Yep, it’s Netflix.

The original streaming media giant turns 23 today, and to celebrate its undeniable influence on modern culture, we compiled 23 wild facts about everyone’s favorite digital video store.

  • The biggest urban legend about Netflix is that co-founder Reed Hastings came up with the idea for movie rentals without late fees when he was stung for $40 after bringing a copy of Apollo 13 back to Blockbuster way, way overdue.
  • To test the physical limitations of the service he was inventing in his head, he mailed himself CDs from a Santa Cruz record store to see whether they’d survive in the mail. Spoiler: They made it.
  • We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Hastings’ co-founder, Marc Randolph, originally called the business Kibble. We’re glad that didn’t stick.
  • Established companies make mistakes as well. Video rental giant Blockbuster, whose name you may only know if you were born before about 1995, turned down a chance to buy Netflix in 2000. The latter had envisioned itself as the digital arm of Blockbuster’s soon-to-be-struggling brick-and-mortar stores, but the big dogs said no.
  • Needless to say, things worked out OK for Netflix in both streams. In 2007, the company began to offer digital streaming as part of its services. The original $5.99/mo DVD rental plan included six hours of streaming per month, or essentially less than a full season of literally any TV show you can think of.
  • Nowadays, Netflix subscribers can watch TV shows and movies in more than 190 countries. Due to licensing agreements, different countries’ Netflix libraries contain different content.
  • Despite that worldwide spread, since 2007 Netflix has only had nine government requests for content takedowns.
  • More than 431 million people worldwide speak Hindi — that’s 17 percent of the world, and about a third of the population of India. Netflix has started to offer Hindi language support to subscribers in India. That’s a big potential market.
  • While Netflix and other streaming services have found a convenient home on “smart” TVs capable of hosting apps, the company once floated the idea of creating its own set-top box, cable-style.
  • Speaking of ways of watching Netflix that you may never have considered, the service will soon be available for streaming on Tesla in-car screens. Y’know, for when you just HAVE to finish that episode of Better Call Saul.
  • The sound you hear that accompanies the title card when you log in to Netflix (see the YouTube clip above if you somehow don’t know what I’m referring to) is officially called ‘ta-dum.’
  • If you hate ‘ta-dum,’ it could be worse. Alongside it in the top three candidates for the theme sound were a “bubbly ocean sound” and…a screaming goat. I’m not kidding.
  • All this is to say, whatever Netflix is doing is working. The company’s annual revenue in 2019 amounted to $20.15 billion. That’s a lotta streams of The Office.
  • And this year, we only dug into our Netflix habits even deeper. After we all got sent home in March for the foreseeable future during the COVID-19 pandemic, the service reported “revenue for the quarter ending March 31, 2020 was $5.768B, a 27.58% increase year-over-year.” Whew.
  • Ever wonder how they decide which programs are “must-watch?” Netflix has historically been very cagey with its viewership numbers, but in January it company announced that it defines “a view” as something that was watched for at least two minutes. So maybe exercise a little caution before deciding that number-1-ranked show is worth your time.
  • Prefer to consume your shows a little faster than the average, or just need to cram in one more episode of Dark before you head to work? You can change the playback speed on the Netflix app on Android devices to make your show play faster or slower.
  • We haven’t forgotten about “Netflix and chill.” What started as one Twitter user’s way of describing planned solo downtime, it quickly became a euphemism for hooking up under the thinly veiled guise of “watching something on TV.”
  • It’s all love, though. A 2016 study commissioned by Netflix found 51 percent of surveyed customers considered the sharing of account passwords to be a sign of a serious relationship. Aw. A further 17 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t do that until they were engaged.
  • In the same study, a quarter of the people surveyed said “show goggles” — finding someone more attractive based on whether they watched the same shows as you — was a thing. You’ve been warned.
  • And we’ve finally hit the 23rd fun fact, so we saved the tastiest for last. You know you’ve reached cultural icon status when Ben & Jerry’s adds you their range. That’s right: everyone’s favorite Vermont ice cream makers paid tribute to the streaming platform (well, maybe the meme) earlier this year with a “Netflix and Chill’d” flavor.