Netflix is really the first streaming service that existed. It has been streaming movies and TV shows since around 2007. Though the service has been around since 1997, when it would mail out DVDs to customers to watch movies and TV shows, and they could return it whenever they wanted.
Now, Netflix is one of the biggest streaming services, and it’s available virtually everywhere in the world. It boasts over 200 million paid subscribers worldwide, and it does even still offer DVDs. Though that’s a pretty small part of their business at this point.
Netflix transitioned from a company that licensed content from studios to one making its own content in the early 2010s. Now it does still do some content licensing, but a majority of its new content is original content made specifically for Netflix.
Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about Netflix.
What is Netflix?
Netflix is a streaming service (and a production company) which launched on August 29, 1997. Originally, it offered movies and TV shows on DVDs that could be mailed out to its subscribers. For a monthly fee, you could get up to 3 DVDs at once. Keep them as long as you wanted, and once you returned them, Netflix would send out a new title from your queue that you picked out.
In 2000, when Blockbuster was actually doing well, it declined a chance to buy Netflix. Of course, Netflix is around today and Blockbuster isn’t. Well at least not in its original form. There is still a single Blockbuster location left in Bend, Oregon. Considering Blockbuster could have bought Netflix for $50 million, that would have been a steal. As Netflix has a market cap of $82 billion right now (and that’s after its stock price has been cut by more than half in 2022, partly due to losing subscribers for the first time in a decade and the entire stock market entering a bear market).
Netflix is now a streaming service that offers millions of hours of content that you can stream. It does still offer DVDs that can be mailed out. Though that is a pretty small part of their business now. And likely only being used by those in remote parts of the US and other countries where broadband internet is still fairly slow and not great for streaming.
How much does it cost?
Netflix has gone up in price quite a bit in recent years. This is due to the cost of original content going up, since it created so much competition in the streaming space, they are now paying more for content. The current price structure starts at $9.99 per month, going up to $19.99 per month.
For most people, the “Standard” plan is going to be the perfect option, as it allows you to watch Netflix on two screens simultaneously. And it offers HD quality (that’s 720p). While the Basic plan is limited to one screen, and only has 480p quality. That’s DVD quality, but in this day and age, that’s pretty bad.
The Premium plan really only makes sense if you have a family of four. As there are four screens that can be used, and it also allows for 4K quality with HDR and Dolby Vision. So you can experience the best Netflix experience possible.
How can I get it for free?
T-Mobile does give its customers Netflix for “free”. T-Mobile prefers not to say “free”, instead say its “included”. But there are a few caveats here.
Magenta MAX customers get Netflix included, even with only one line. However, for the Magenta plan, you’ll need at least two lines to get the Basic plan (that’s with one screen). Magenta MAX jumps to the Standard plan when you add a second line.
The Essentials plan does not include Netflix at all, which makes sense since it is just the essentials.
Because Netflix keeps going up in price, many people resort to password sharing and share their account with multiple people, and split the price too. So if you have the Premium plan and share with four people, that breaks down to about $5 per month. Which isn’t bad. Netflix knows this is an issue and is working on cracking down on password sharing.
In late 2022, it plans to start charging those that do share passwords a bit more for Netflix, or forcing them to get their own plans. It’s still unclear how Netflix plans to do this right now. But we should know more a bit later this year.
Ads are coming
After years of saying that Netflix would never had ads, its CEO Reed Hastings noted that it would debut ads and an ad-supported tier of the service later this year. There’s no word yet on how much cheaper that plan would be. It would be smart for the “Basic” plan to become the ad-supported tier, and give it access to another screen and HD quality streaming. Putting it on par with the “Standard” plan but with ads.
Of course, Netflix could make the plan pretty cheap, because depending on how much the person watches Netflix, it could net them more venue then charging them $10 per month.
The company hasn’t given much information about the ads just yet. But we’ll keep our fingers crossed that they aren’t too obtrusive. Since a lot of Netflix’s original content doesn’t have space for ads by default, it could be that we will only see ads before and after TV episodes and movies. Which is what Disney+ and HBO MAX are doing.
Where is Netflix available?
It is available virtually everywhere. Netflix does not have an official list for countries at this time, but says that it is available in over 190 countries. And notes that it is not available in China, Crimea, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The usual countries that American companies aren’t available in, basically.
The catalog of movies and TV shows does vary based on where you are located. So you might see more titles available in Canada that aren’t available in the US. Part of this comes down to the fact that different studios own rights to different titles in different countries. So Netflix may have the rights to a title in the UK, but not in Mexico. That’s where the use of a VPN comes in. Many will use a VPN to be in another country and watch Netflix from that country.
Does Netflix offer games?
Netflix does actually offer a few games. In late 2021, Netflix announced that it had launched five games within the Netflix app on Android and iOS. Those include:
- Stranger Things: 1984 (BonusXP)
- Stranger Things 3: The Game (BonusXP)
- Shooting Hoops (Frosty Pop)
- Card Blast (Amuzo & Rogue Games)
- Teeter Up (Frosty Pop)
Netflix is planning to make more games based off of the intellectual property that they own. Like with Stranger Things, which is a very popular title for the company. You can learn more about Netflix games here.
What content does Netflix offer?
Netflix has so many movies and TV shows that you can watch. Whether these are licensed from other studios, or are Netflix Originals.
Each month, we update our “What’s coming to Netflix this month” article with all of the new titles heading to Netflix, so you can see what is on the way. There’s usually a good 100 or so titles coming each month. So there’s always a new slate of titles available for you to watch.
Some of the bigger names for Netflix include Selling Sunset, Tiger King, Stranger Things, House of Cards, and Bridgerton.
What platforms is it available on?
At this point, Netflix is available on virtually every platform out there. That includes:
- Android TV
- Google TV
- Apple TV
- Web Browsers: Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Firefox
- PlayStation 4
- PlayStation 5
- Xbox One S
- Xbox One X
- Xbox Series S
- Xbox Series X
- VIZIO Smart TVs
- LG Smart TVs
- Samsung Smart TVs
Just to name a few. The only really major caveat is projectors that have Android TV. Netflix certifies devices in a way that makes it impossible for most projectors to get Netflix installed if they are using Android TV. Basically, the product needs to sell a million units before it will certify it. And most projectors don’t sell anywhere near that.
Can I still rent physical DVDs?
You can. However, Netflix’s streaming plans do not include DVDs. So you’d need to either add it to your plan, or head over to DVD.com and sign up. These plans are $9.99 and $14.99 per month for one disc or two out at a time. You still get unlimited per month, and it includes DVDs and Blu-rays.
As mentioned, you can add DVDs to your streaming plan too, if you don’t want one or the other and want both. But it’s the same price. Either $9.99 or $14.99 per month.
It’s not really that cheap, but it is nice to have this option. Especially with Blu-rays for newer movies that just came out. And may not be on streaming services.
The DVDs are now served by DVD.com, which was a service similar to Netflix (before streaming). It bought DVD.com in 2012.
Should I sign up for Netflix?
So here’s the million dollar question, should you sign up? That’s becoming a tougher and tougher question these days. As Netflix is continuing to raise prices. And spending more on content – content that a lot of people don’t watch. While also cancelling a lot of their most popular shows after a season or two.
Our take is that you should sign up and check out the service. See if it is right for you. There is a lot of content available compared to other services – except maybe HBO MAX. So try it out, and see if you like it. That’s the beauty with streaming services, is you can try it out and cancel it pretty easily. In fact, we have a tutorial on how to cancel Netflix here.