7 Things You Should Definitely Know About Netflix


Did you know… Netflix has 83 million subscibers in 190 countries who stream 125 million hours of programming a day?

I recently watched a recording of Netflix’s first Women in Tech LA event, which was held back in July.

It was an interesting peek behind the streaming giant’s curtain and if you can find the time to watch it in full, I encourage you to do so.

Either way, for your tapas-like edification, here are 7 insights that stood out to me the most:

Content is King, Data + Testing is Queen

Netflix is a data culture, without question.

It thrives on a never-ending cycle of tracking and analyzing data; and conducting hyper-vigilant A/B testing via a process of hypothesize, test, analyze, evaluate, test, implement…repeat.

Eyetracking heat map of the Netflix subscriber home page (on desktop) showing that the top-left image beneath the page banner, gets the most attention
Eyetracking heat map of the Netflix subscriber home page (on desktop) showing that the top-left image beneath the page’s main banner, gets the most attention

Through testing, Team Netflix found that, via its interface…

Subscribers spend just 1.8 seconds or less deciding if they’re interested in watching a particular movie or show.

Then, through robust and ongoing testing, the Creative Services team discovered a winning formula for promo design:

  1. Less is more
  2. Emotive faces
  3. Well-known actors and/or symbols that are representative of the movie or show
  4. Cultural nuance

Here’s an example of six promo banner designs used for an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt multi-variate A/B test, with the winning design in the bottom left:


The Streaming Giant Runs on AWS, and Nimbly So

Netflix runs entirely on the Amazon Cloud, funneling worldwide traffic via servers in 3 regions: U.S. East, U.S. West and Europe.

A Prime Air plane flying in the great blue skyRelated Article:
7 Things You Should Definitely Know About Amazon

When one server is having an issue, they are able to seamlessly funnel all global traffic through the other two servers.

This engineering innovation was spurred on by the Great Christmas Eve Outage of 2012.

A screenshot of a Netflix tweet from Dec 24 2012, that reads: We're orry for the Christmas Eve outage. Terrible timing. Engineers are working on it now. Stay tuned to @Netflixhelps for updates.

At Netflix, All Subscribers Are Created Equal

All of their original shows are released globally, in 20 languages ON THE SAME DAY!

So, for instance, all 13 episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt were translated and captioned in 20 languages before its Season 2 premiered on April 15, 2016.

Screenshot of German subtitles on an episode of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

For anyone who has worked in localization, you know just how much of a to-do that is.

Then multiply that by the number of original shows Netflix has been premiering at an increasing rate.

And reach for the aspirin!

How Many Translators Does It Take to Localize a Talk Show?

The answer: 100!

That’s right, Netflix’s first talk show, Chelsea (starring comedian Chelsea Handler), employs a massive team of 100 translators worldwide.

Together, they churn out 20 languates in 12 hours… 3 times a week!

And this venerable localization army has been trained to maintain the spirit of whatever comes out of Handler’s unscripted, off-kilter and F-bomb dropping mouth.

Host Chelsea Handler trying on a pink frou-frou dress during a Marriage episode of her Netflix talk show, Chelsea

In theory, such a localization process sounds like pure insanity.

In practice, it seems Netflix’s localization team has fashioned a well-oiled machine that paves the way for, and provides a localization model for, future talk show possibilities.

Global = Mobile

And mobile means lower bit rate, low bandwidth and data caps.

Which is why Netflix employs a team of wicked smart PhDs to push and push and push the envelope when it comes to video compression.

Netflix’s Quest for Global Domination Doesn’t Include China

While other major corporations are bending over backwards to saturate China, it isn’t an immediate focus for Team Netflix right now, surprisingly enough.

Automation is Key

For digital initiatives that are low risk, Team Netflix will find ways to automate processes and functionality.

For initiatives that are high risk for the company, they put humans on it.