first began its worldwide expansion in 2016, the streaming service has rewritten the playbook for global entertainment — from TV to film, and soon, to video games.
Global hit series and movies were once nearly all made in Hollywood and exported internationally. Now, thanks to Netflix’s investments in international TV and film, programming from Spain, India, Brazil, and Korea is finding massive audiences around the world.
Netflix figured out that to thrive on an international stage it needed both mass-market programming like “Stranger Things,” as well as local content like “Lupin,” “Money Heist,” and “Sacred Games” that could grab viewers in specific markets.
Read more about how Netflix’s strategy for buying international TV shows is changing, according to producers who have worked with the streamer and its rivals
The strategy helped the streaming service grow its customer base to 209 million paid subscribers globally, as of June.
Its momentum is also reinvigorating production in places like Germany, Mexico, and India, as companies like Disney, WarnerMedia, Apple, Amazon follow Netflix’s lead.
Read more about how Netflix’s global focus is changing international production markets
Netflix has reoriented its leadership around its new global model.
The streaming company, cofounded by tech entrepreneur Reed Hastings, promoted content chief Ted Sarandos to co-CEO in 2020, which cemented the importance of content within the organization. Meanwhile, Bela Bajaria, who had been in charge of international non-English TV, took the reins of the overall TV business, and product chief Greg Peters took on additional duties as COO, including streamlining how global teams work together.
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The company has also formed an elite team of 23 interdisciplinary execs to help make its biggest decisions. Known internally as the “Lstaff ” — the “L” stands for leadership — the group sits between the company’s officers and its larger executive staff of vice presidents and above, who are called the “Estaff.”
Read more about Netflix’s elite ‘Lstaff’ of 23 execs that helps the company make its most important decisions
Netflix’s is searching for its next frontier
Still, Netflix is facing more competition than ever from an influx of rivals that are learning to play its game.
Nearly every major media company, from Disney to WarnerMedia, now runs a streaming service. Their platforms are stockpiled with tentpole movies and TV shows that used to only be found in theaters or on linear TV, and their libraries now rival Netflix’s.
The competition is pushing the streaming giant to continue to evolve.
Netflix recently expanded its efforts into podcasting and even started pedaling merchandise for series like “Lupin.”
In July, the company confirmed plans to offer video games on its subscription service.
It hired Mike Verdu, the former head of Facebook Reality Labs, as its vice president of game development and is currently hiring for video-game-related jobs.
Read more about what Netflix’s video-game roles reveal about its strategy
Netflix plans to approach gaming like it did movies and TV shows. It’ll start off slowly, commissioning and licensing titles based on existing franchises like “Stranger Things” or “Bridgerton.” Then, it will begin to experiment with other kinds of video-game storytelling, like it did with its original series.
“Maybe someday we’ll see a game that spawns a film or a series,” Peters told investors in July. “That would be an amazing place to get to and really see the rich interplay between these sort of different forms of entertainment.”