Reed Hastings famously posed for this picture a few years back when Netflix subscribers surpassed 100M. It was a symbolic gesture to recreate a Denny’s dinner he’d eaten years before during a particularly tough time in the company’s launch. That rainy evening, frustrated with how things were going and working late, he went to the only place open and had a steak dinner to celebrate 1M subscribers. By the time this picture was taken, he was already a billionaire and the legacy of Netflix as an entertainment transformer secured. This week, Reed got the chance to enjoy yet another Denny’s steak dinner when the company sailed past 200M global subscribers. I’m told he needed Postmates to deliver this one, but he did carry on the tradition…COVID-19 be damned.
Hitting 200 million worldwide subscribers is an amazing feat for Netflix and selfishly I can’t help but feeling a little bit of pride for it and the modest contribution I made in my time at Netflix. I’m excited for all my former colleagues, and grateful for the impact Netflix’s continued success has had on my own financial independence. Everyone past and present should feel proud of whatever they did that led Netflix to this moment in time. I can think of so many amazing things done by more amazing people, that brought Netflix here… in the lead of the global streaming era. Their business has made it possible to turn the world into one giant water-cooler moment and time and time again they have proven the world can stop and talk about a show that truly has everyone’s attention. Netflix has also provided a much needed distraction in a time that’s tested all of our patience and sanity. The joy and comfort many have taken from Netflix during the pandemic cannot be overstated.
One thing that often gets overlooked by the casual observer is how well Netflix has executed globally. If you look at their growth this quarter, EMEA was a whale for them, bringing Netflix nearly 4.5 million new members in a single quarter. Similarly, APAC and LATAM brought in 3.2 million new members collectively. Netflix has managed to grow in highly demanding markets where free broadcast content is beloved and produced at high quality levels. They have also been the first real media company to successfully travel foreign productions into the U.S. and find success. During their earnings call this week, Ted Sarandos indicated Lupin was the number 2 show in the U.S. this week. This is amazing considering it was originally a French language series. Netflix didn’t remake the format for the U.S., the original show, dubbed in English…was number 2! A few years ago if you’d made any proclamation that a Spanish or French series would find any kind of mainstream success in the U.S….you’d have been laughed out of the Upfronts (do those even matter anymore?). Now you can buy Casa de Papel Halloween costumes…who knows, maybe Lupin actions figures next Christmas? The world is getting smaller and Ted has his thumb on the Planet Shrinker.
You cannot achieve this global success without the outstanding execution of globalization. Speaking to consumers through great local marketing, creating a UX that works with their language and of course giving them content that’s well localized for their language and culture. Netflix cares about this, invests in it, and executes content localization incredibly well. Of course they don’t do it alone. They rely on an army of outstanding companies (many among the membership of EGA) to do this work. These vendors are the custodians of Netflix stories in different regions across the globe and in their own way help bring joy and delight to a huge and growing swath of Netflix members. So they deserve a little of the love today as both investors and employees of Netflix celebrate a great quarter with fantastic growth. And for all the EGA members that help make Netflix a global leader, when COVID-19 ends….I’ll take you all for a steak at Denny’s!