How Does Netflix Make Money? Netflix Business Model

Netflix, being the world’s largest OTT video streaming provider, is credited for inventing television and video streaming as we know it. But what precisely is Netflix’s business strategy and how does it earn money? The solution may be more complicated than you realize.

Netflix was one of the first TV streaming services that demand viewers to pay a monthly subscription fee to access exclusive video content. The business model has been enormously popular among rival providers such as Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV, and others, and is now known as Subscription Video on Demand (or SVOD for short).

Brief History

Netflix began as an at-home DVD rental service in 1997 and has now evolved into a prominent Over-the-Top (OTT) entertainment platform. The business has swiftly changed its attention to its online platform over the last decade, resulting in the discontinuation of physical DVD distribution plans in recent years.

The business began producing its original series in 2013, including the critically acclaimed House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. Netflix is valued at $141 billion due to its present offerings of both original and licensed television shows, movies, and documentaries.

What is the Business Model of Netflix

As of July 2021, as a streaming video provider specializing in entertainment, it has 209 million customers, 72 million from the United States and Canada. Canada, India, Brazil, France, the Netherlands, South Korea, Japan, and the United Kingdom all have Netflix offices. It’s also a member of the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which creates and distributes films from across the world.

To think about it, Marc Rudolph and Reed Hastings launched the corporation in 1997. It was once recognized for providing services that allowed consumers to rent DVDs of movies they wished to view. It would take advantage of the Internet’s services to ensure that this occurred without difficulty. Netflix’s business model is successful, yet it has negative cash flow due to the upfront cash it pays for content licensing and original content creation.

Subscribers would be able to rent movies and some online shows over the internet and the company’s services. The company’s subscriber base is large, and it may be highly beneficial to Netflix’s business model in terms of revenue generation.

Netflix Customer Segments & Business Segments

Local streaming

Because it is based in the United States, this streaming plan is only available to residents of the United States, and the earnings are derived from monthly membership payments.

The number of people who subscribed increased from 44,738 in 2014 to 54,750 in 2015. This showed a rise in costs as well. The contribution margin, which is calculated by subtracting variable costs from total revenue, soared to 37 percent. As a short-term plan, this contribution margin was shown to be the most lucrative.

International Streaming

The money generated by this streaming plan comes from the monthly membership fees charged to clients who live outside of the United States.

Because of the worldwide extension plan in 2015, revenues were verified to be over $5 billion as of 2017. The contribution margin was reported to be a positive 4%, up from 0% in 2016.

Domestic DVD

It is frequently claimed that we must never forget our beginnings. Netflix has done the same thing.

Starting with DVD rentals, the OTT platform hasn’t forgotten its roots and continues to receive monthly DVD income via e-mail. The company’s oldest source of revenue, rental DVDs, nevertheless give a significant profit margin.

What’s more fascinating is that the platform has divided the movies, TV episodes, and documentaries into categories for kids and adults to foster a family-friendly environment.

What does it cost to run Netflix?

Netflix’s overhead expenditures stretch beyond the management of its web interface, although it is an OTT platform. For example, throughout the first three quarters of 2018, the business spent $534 million more on streaming operations than it had expected.

During the same period, it accrued $18.6 billion in debt for “commitments and contingencies,” which covers the talent fees of all the big stars Netflix hires to produce its content. The corporation has had difficulty fending off the prospect of new competitors such as the planned Disney+ and Apple TV+ while raising its plan pricing in early 2019.

 Unlike competitors like Hulu, Netflix does not provide any ad-supported, low-cost options. Furthermore, unlike AVOD platform Tubi, it does not offer any ad-supported content, requiring customers to subscribe to view any of its shows.

How Does Netflix Make Money?

Netflix made a total of $16 billion in revenue in 2018, up 35% over the previous year. Last year, the internet streaming platform’s net income increased to $1.2 billion, more than double what it was in 2017. Where does the money come from, though?

Netflix has over 139 million monthly customers who pay between $8 and $16 to watch series, documentaries, and films. In fact, in the United States, Netflix’s largest market, the streaming service is currently used by an estimated 54 percent of homes. That’s a lot of folks binge-watching while still in their PJs.

Netflix contributed up to 10% of all total screen time in the United States last year, equating to 100 million hours of television every day.

More viewers equate to more streaming time and, for Netflix, more paying subscribers.

Netflix isn’t simply ahead of the pack because of continuous replays of The Office and Friends. Netflix, which began as a DVD rental service, now creates its unique material, such as series that you won’t find anywhere else and can’t put down.

With its unique material, the firm has sparked a full-fledged frenzy, to the point that releases like Bird Box have become cultural events. In the first four weeks after its debut, the firm believes that 80 million-member homes watched the film.

With House Of Cards, Stranger Things, and Ozarks, among others, Netflix has been a consistent hitmaker with its originals, spawning tentpole franchises. These titles generate excitement, attract new subscribers, and keep existing fans satisfied, but they aren’t cheap. Netflix is paying the upfront costs of producing and marketing this content rather than licensing it.

The corporation spent roughly $12 billion on content in 2018, up from $9 billion the previous year. The business plans to spend $15 billion on content in 2019.

While Netflix is profitable, this content expense puts the firm in the red in terms of cash flow.

The corporation is taking on debt to expand its original content portfolio. The aim is to gradually reduce that cost as the archive grows to the point that even the most dedicated binge-watchers won’t be able to get through it all.

It’s a risky plan, but it’s working so far. Netflix is the seventh-largest internet corporation in terms of revenue as of today.

Is Netflix Losing Money and Making Losses?

Yes, technically. In 2017, Netflix’s Free Cash Flow (FCF) was around -$2 billion. The company’s total gross debt is present $4.8 billion. Nonetheless, it is profitable every quarter, and earnings are increasing. The obligations, according to Netflix, are part of the company’s strategy as it expands its original programming.

As Netflix strives to get users hooked on its service, it’s using a “spend money to earn money” approach. People are more inclined to subscribe and/or renew memberships to a service if they look forward to one new show or movie per month. The tactic appears to be paying well, as the corporation adds 5 million new users per quarter.

Is Netflix’s Business Model Sustainable?

The business strategy has so far pleased the company’s management and stockholders. It helps that Netflix has a track record of adapting to new circumstances. It began as a DVD rental firm, but its early move into streaming media has paid off. While the firm still rents DVDs and Blu-rays, it is only a small percentage of its overall business today.

Furthermore, Netflix is known for passing on the expense of good content to its customers regularly. In 2014, the firm raised its regular plan to $8.99 (from $7.99), then to $9.99 in 2016, and finally to $10.99 in 2017. And, despite greater rates, Netflix’s user base has grown, demonstrating that the service is worthwhile. There will be additional hikes in the future.

FAQs On How Does Netflix Make Money

As a subscription streaming service, Netflix’s main source of revenue comes from subscription fees. Hence each piece of content (i.e. licensed or original) must either encourage new subscribers to sign up or prevent existing subscribers from canceling the service.

Netflix doesn’t publicly disclose its deals, but from what we managed to gather around the Internet, Netflix is currently paying between $100 and $250 million for blockbuster movies, while popular TV shows with multiple seasons have budgets that range from $300 to $500 million.

Around $1.4 million per day. Netflix is cagey with numbers about its daily operations, or about how much content is being viewed.

The number of people who can use the service at the same time is determined by the subscription plan. The premium plan, which allows four people to connect at once and provides super HD resolution, is the best option for families.

Yes, by purchasing a Netflix gift card, you may use Netflix without a credit card. These cards aren’t accessible everywhere, they may be found at major retail establishments and online in the United States. You may make your Netflix account pre-paid without having to worry about periodic payments if you choose this technique.


Netflix’s business plan has proven to be a successful one. Today, owing to technology, businesses of all sizes can simply mimic Netflix’s subscription technology. They are indeed pioneers in the field, having paved the way for a completely new manner of viewing video material.



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