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The New Netflix Narrative

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As Netflix has proven to Wall Street over the years, the company is exceptionally good at making beloved TV programs that retain viewers. Photo: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Corbis/Getty Images
Julia Alexander
April 23, 2024

It wasn’t too long ago when Netflix convinced Wall Street that the key performance indicator for a video platform was subscriber growth. Indeed, in the early years of the streaming business, Hollywood executives and analysts, alike, were searching for evidence that customers would willingly migrate to an entirely new distribution model. Netflix was essentially the first dog shot into space, and it was out to prove a hypothesis. 

The rest, of course, is history. Save for a few rough quarters, Netflix seamlessly built an international business with some 270 million global subscribers and a $250 billion market cap. And the company’s success seemed so definitive and logical that it inadvertently convinced its competitors to play catch-up, amassing tons of debt—Disney, $4.5 billion; Comcast, more than $3 billion; Discovery, $40 billion—as they tried to keep pace in the streaming wars.