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Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America's Eyeballs Hardcover – October 11, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Founded in 1997 by Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings, Netflix became one of the biggest dot-com success stories. But at the time, the idea of renting DVD movies by mail was considered a long shot, as DVD was barely an established format. Keating separates fact from legend in this story of how the tiny upstart, Netflix, took on and ultimately decimated the goliaths of the industry, Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video. Although consumers caught on to the service and benefited from the price wars between Netflix and Blockbuster’s rival online service, the companies strained under the pressure of competing at a loss to see who could outlast the other. Fans of either service will be amazed at the machinations that went on behind the scenes while they were blithely enjoying movie after movie on the industry’s dime. It seems that only Apple Computer rivals Netflix in how its customers hold a deep personal attachment to the brand “experience,” and fans of the service will get a lot of insight into how much risk, dedication, and commitment it took to bring that experience into being. --David Siegfried

Review

“The little red envelope that could . . . and did! This is a classic Silicon Valley start-up tale and Keating gives readers behind-the-scenes access to a story that continues to play out in America’s mailboxes, living rooms, and mobile devices every day.”
—JIM COOK, CFO of Mozilla; Netflix founding team member
 
“A well-crafted, well-researched, and well-sourced page-turner. Keating is no stranger to this subject, having covered Netflix for years as a reporter, and gives readers a fascinating and insightful look into the inner workings of a company that forever changed how America watches movies.”
—LORI STREIFLER, executive editor, City News Service Inc.
 
“Even if all you know about Netflix is that it has bright red mailers and comes out of your Roku box, Keating’s reporting will make you want to sit down and learn more. It’s a tale of corporate intrigue, gigantic success, and enormous failure.”
—ALLAN PARACHINI, adjunct professor, California State University; former Los Angeles Times reporter
 
Netflixed has all the drama and intrigue of a Hollywood blockbuster, but for me, it was also nostalgic. Gina Keating perfectly captured the pressure, energy, and emo­tion we all felt as we fought Netflix for control of America’s living rooms. I’m often asked by people, ‘What happened at Blockbuster?’ Now I can tell them . . . just read Netflixed.”
—BEN COOPER, EVP, Camelot Strategic Marketing & Media; former head of marketing, Blockbuster Online

“…Veteran media journalist Keating’s nonfiction debut is a surprisingly swift-paced mix of investigative journalism and thrillerlike suspense. The major players in the game—Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Blockbuster’s John Antioco—are both complicated characters, and Keating does a commendable job painting a portrait of these very different business leaders, each with his own unique approach to vying for the same brass ring: domination of the American home-entertainment market …An impressive look at the infinite complexities and cutthroat competition driving the deceptively simple business of 21st-century movie delivery.
Kirkus Reviews

“There's a grim reality behind the magical wafting of DVDs to our mailboxes, according to this lively, canny business potboiler…[This] colorful narrative climaxes with Netflix and archrival Blockbuster throttling each other in an old-fashioned price war that Netflix wins by a hair. Keating hypes the allegedly world-shaking technological transformations in how we access digital content, but what's far more interesting and dramatic is her smart portrait of how an ever-changing capitalism stays very much the same.”
Publishers Weekly

“Keating separates fact from legend in this story of how the tiny upstart, Netflix, took on and ultimately decimated the goliaths of the industry, Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video… It seems that only Apple Computer rivals Netflix in how its customers hold a deep personal attachment to the brand “experience,” and fans of the service will get a lot of insight into how much risk, dedication, and commitment it took to bring that experience into being.”
—DAVID SIEGFRIED, Booklist
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (October 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591844789
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591844785
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book does a great job filling in the details and clarifying some of the PR stories.
Kelly Kelly
This book really focuses on Netflix early years and perhaps there is room to write a second edition with more depth from 2010 onwards.
Eoin Banahan
The author talks a lot about Netflix's competitors, including Hollywood Video and especially Blockbuster.
JC Guerrero

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Zachary H. Bissonnette on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The story behind the rise of Netflix has always intrigued me, mainly because it never should have happened: Netflix was a scrappy start-up with some venture capital money, setting out to take over a market that was controlled by corporate titans with enormous brand recognition and tremendous financial resources.

But somehow Netflix managed to reinvent the way that people watch movies and turn a profit; just how improbable was this? So improbable that, for YEARS, Netflix was one of the most shorted stocks in America and America's most famous and probably best shortseller, Jim Chanos, had assembled a list of reasons--all good reasons, by the way--why Netflix was destined to fail.

But it didn't. Netflixed is the mostly never before told story of Netflix's unflappable belief in its business model and Blockbuster's highly leveraged ineptitude that allowed Netflix to execute and topple a titan. It's an incredible story, succinctly well-told by Gina Keating.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Newcomer on December 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an avid movie fan and long time customer of Blockbuster I switched to Netflix a few years ago as I loved the no late fees concept. The library from Netflix of course was huge so that was a plus as well. This book helps to explain the disruption in the market for movie fans and how slow Blockbuster was to respond. Reminds me a lot about the ongoing battle with Amazon and Barnes and Noble (Barnes and Noble responded a little better).

Gina Keating does a good job balancing the two sides and taking the reader into both houses to understand the thought process for Blockbuster and Netflix. I enjoyed reading about Johnny Antioco from Blockbuster as he so badly wanted to implement certain ideas, but at times was misguided.

Anyone who is a fan of corporate strategy will enjoy this read as Netflix enjoyed having large amounts of cash and low overhead compared to Blockbuster with a serious cash burn and high overhead. In addition Blockbuster had franchisees not on the same page with overall strategy. Netflix also had a personal credo of "great brands had to connect with customers on a personal level". If used wisely and monitored this is where social media helps certain companies.

Good book on how to get after the more established companies and disrupt "business as usual". Anyone starting a business and challenging mature companies and markets needs to read and understand this book. Well written and an interesting read for sure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 18, 2014
Format: Paperback
Learning about Netflix and Blockbuster was fascinating, and I enjoyed the story. The book, itself, was poorly written, sometimes disorganized, and often distracting.

Although she does seem to have done her reearch, Ms. Keating's lack of understanding of business fundamentals comes through (and distracts) several times. She also misses opportunities to really dive headlong into questions about Hastings' management style, but generally demures.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rodney D. Merrill on July 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this to be a great read as the struggle to satisfy the public's quest for entertainment is constantly evolving. My appreciation for and understanding of Netflix has now been changed in a way that I didn't expect before reading this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bill at Torg Stories on February 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
If you liked Walter Isaacson's biography on Steve Jobs, you'll enjoy this. Great stories and lots to think about when it comes to film distribution. I'd read this along with Epstein's Hollywood Economist.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By IT Guy on January 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Excellent read and I hope the algorithms at Amazon will recommend her next book to me! I would even go so far as to say that the style of this tech story was "better polished" than the last tech story I read, the recent Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. Isaacson had a tendency to remind the reader what had just happened in the previous chapter, like a TV series returning from commercial and restating the plot. But the pace of Netflixed keeps you reading and interested, no need for recaps.

Based on my personal experience in IT, the most satisfying part of the book was reading about Netflix using technical excellence, in house programmers, and an engineering-driven culture to create software that was a work of art. They easily defeated Blockbuster's outsource-and-copy approach to software development. I almost spit my coffee when I read how the Netflix engineers spotted an obvious flaw in the Blockbuster bar code system, as I'd seen similar errors myself during an Accenture infestation at my company. It was both hilarious and sad that a guy named "Evangelist" could have helped save Blockbuster had the folks in charge listened to his message.

If I had to make a complaint, it would be that there weren't enough technical details. Several minor flubs early on indicated that any technical details provided would be very shallow (...if I recall Usenet was compared to "the Internet" and emails were found via a "URL tracing program"..), but those didn't make the story any less compelling. I wanted to learn more about how the app got into so many DVD and BluRay players and influenced the cord cutters phenomenon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JC Guerrero on February 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The book tells how Netflix came about, what the company's early challenges and successes were, how it went from being Marc Randolph's startup to Reed Hastings's corporate force and a lot of other interesting stories. It discusses intriguing details such as the engineers and marketers who helped Netflix survive, thrive and grow, how crucial well-run distribution centers were to the success of the company, and how the mid-90s startup culture in California allowed Netflix to come about.

The author talks a lot about Netflix's competitors, including Hollywood Video and especially Blockbuster. She does a great job explaining what the situation in the home video industry was like in the 90s, how the box office industry affected the rise of Netflix and the fall of Blockbuster, and how much of a threat Blockbuster's online rental service was to Netflix before Blockbuster finally collapsed.

The book is interesting and informative, and I thought it covered the subject matter adequately, so I give it 5 stars.
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