Some may not know or remember it now, but there was a time when Netflix consisted solely of a DVD-by-mail service and was very close to being bought by the now all but entirely defunct Blockbuster Video. However, following the monumental success the company found through streaming, CEO Reed Hastings is grateful that a proposed deal between the two video rental companies never panned out.
Hastings, who helped co-found Netflix in 1997, discussed the one time plan to sell Netflix for $50 million in 2000 in his new book “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention,” and revealed he is grateful now that he was rebuffed by Blockbuster’s then-CEO John Antioco.
“Well, now I say thank God that they didn’t want to go ahead [with the deal]. But you know, at the time, they were so formidable and even later, when we went public, we were $50 million in revenue, and they were $5 billion, a hundred times larger than us,” he said while appearing on the Yahoo Finance weekly interview series “Influencers with Andy Serwer.” “So for our first decade, [Blockbuster] was such a big gorilla over our future. And back to the role of luck. It was a number of things that made it possible for us to thrive, and eventually then have the chance to move into streaming.”
Netflix, which has since found immense success, eventually made that move to streaming content in 2007, which largely helped change the way consumers went about watching films at home, and led the way for other streaming platforms which have grown and added to the market since—including Hulu, Apple TV, Disney+, Peacock and more.
They would also eventually make a shift into original content as well, and debuted their first TV series, “House of Cards,” in 2013. Original content is a large part of Netflix’s current platform and a plethora of offerings, and the company has even gone on to ink exclusive deals with high-profile figures, including Barack and Michelle Obama, as well as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Blockbuster, meanwhile, struggled to keep up as viewing habits changed, eventually filing for bankruptcy in 2010 and going on to close nearly all of its stores in subsequent years. Today, one last store remains in Bend, Oregon.
Still, despite the success Netflix has found, it hasn’t been without its own struggles and issues. Most recently, calls were made on social media for a boycott of the service following the release of the film “Cuties.”
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