Not only is Netflix the most recognizable name in streaming, it’s one of the most valuable brands in the world. (It’s even got its own euphemism.) But over the past few years, many of its content partners left to launch their own streaming services and some of its biggest shows went to other platforms. Friends went to HBO Max, Once Upon a Time went to Disney+, and The Office went to Peacock – all within about a year of those services launching. Our in-depth Netflix review takes a look at what’s left to let you know if the streaming giant is still worth your money in 2022.
What is Netflix?
Back in 2018, CNN digital correspondent Paul R. La Monica dubbed Netflix “the king of all media.” And last year when the streamer hauled in the most Emmys ever for a single platform – with 44 awards – it seemed to confirm that title. But a lot can change in a year, and this month HBO and HBO Max dominated the premier TV awards show with 37 Emmys – compared to Netflix’s 26.
It’s too early to say this signifies a regime change, but it’s definitely a shift in the landscape. Granted, Netflix is no stranger to shifting landscapes. In fact, it’s where the streamer thrives.
The history of Netflix dates back to the late-90s. In its early years, Netflix was a mail-order DVD rental service. However, founder Reed Hastings never intended to stay in the DVD rental business and has his sights set on streaming from early on.
When Hastings brought in Ted Sarandos to manage Netflix’s content library in 1999, he explained to him that he intended to pivot to streaming – hence the name Netflix. The company held off launching its streaming service for many years – until the summer of 2007 – then immediately pursued an aggressive expansion strategy.
Originally only available in the United States, Netflix’s territory now extends to every corner of the planet. There are only 4 countries on earth where Netflix is not available – China, North Korea, Syria and Crimea.
Netflix 60-second summary
Unlike niche streaming services geared toward fans of specific genres or content types, like Shudder for horror or Crunchyroll for anime, Netflix doesn’t target a specific demographic. In the past, Netflix’s user base skewed young, but recent data puts the median age of Netflix’s core viewers between 35 and 44. And according to a study from Civic Science back in 2017, Netflix’s American user base reflected the country’s general population in terms of gender, income, education and age.
Netflix’s content library varies from country to country, but a single user account works around the world. Some titles and studios are no longer available on the platform, as content partners left to launch their own streaming services.
However, a lot of the titles lost are offset by new original content. In Q3 of 2021, Netflix put out around 130 original titles and produced 2,700+ hours of content. The company also reportedly spent $17 billion on content that year.
Netflix is currently ad-free and requires a paid subscription, with 3 plans ranging in price from $10 to $20 per month. And while having no commercials has always been a big selling point for Netflix, the industry is changing – and changing fast. The company recently announced that it is launching a cheaper, ad-supported tier later this year, likely in November.
The pros and cons of Netflix
As other production companies have left to create their own streaming services, Netflix has replaced those lost shows and movies with its own. For that reason, if you’re looking for an all-you-can-binge buffet of content from a variety of different sources, Netflix may no longer be the best option.
On the other hand, Netflix’s collection of originals is very compelling. And due to all the content partner departures, the service’s original content library has ballooned in recent years. In fact, Netflix Originals now make up half of the US library. The shows represent a large number of different genres, ranging from comedies to dramas to documentaries and more.
Creating more content means they won’t all be hits – and the current quality of the Netflix Originals is a hotly debated topic online – Netflix did take home the second-most Emmys this month. If the platform continues producing enough hits like Stranger Things and Ozark, it should be able to keep pace with its growing number of competitors.
6 reasons to get (or stick with) Netflix
- 3,600+ movies and 1,800+ TV shows (17,000 titles globally)
- No ads (but an ad-supported tier is coming)
- High-quality original titles
- User-friendly interface
- Robust device support
- Downloadable content to watch offline
5 reasons to not get (or ditch) Netflix
- Most expensive on-demand streaming service
- No live TV, news or sports
- Fewer simultaneous streams than competitors
- Some countries get much less content
- Basic plan is 480p SD video quality
Netflix has 3 ad-free plans available
Netflix currently offers 3 ad-free subscription plans – Basic, Standard and Premium – and there was a time when it was the great, cheap alternative to cable TV and movie rentals. However, continual price hikes over the years, and the rise of low-priced competitors, have made Netflix the most expensive on-demand streaming service out there.
- Basic subscribers are limited to streaming in 480p SD (Standard Definition) video quality, one stream at a time, and can only download content to watch offline on one device.
- Standard subscribers can steam in 1080p HD (High Definition) video quality. They can watch on 2 screens at the same time and download content to watch offline on 2 different devices.
- Premium subscribers can watch select shows in 4K UHD (Ultra High Definition) video quality, plus they can watch 4 screens simultaneously and download content to watch offline on 4 different devices.
While these plans have the same features all over the world, the prices differ from country to country, and people in some countries will get a better price-per-title deal. For more on these plans and prices, check out Netflix Plans and Pricing in 2022 – Everything You Need to Know.
Over half of Netflix’s library is original content
Research firm Ampere analyzed Netflix’s content library at the end of 2018 to learn more about its composition. According to Vox, they discovered that Netflix originals, when measured in hours, only made up 8% of the total Netflix catalog. However, as noted above, the percentage of original content has since ballooned to 50% – a target that Netflix CFO David Wells announced as a long-term goal back in 2016.
The 2018 study noted that 13% of the library’s content was licensed from Viacom, CBS, Sony, PBS, MGM or HBO, while almost 20% of the titles were owned by NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, Disney or Fox. As already noted, many of those companies now have their own streaming service or a stake in one.
NBCUniversal launched Peacock, Disney launched Disney+, and CBS and Viacom merged, then relaunched CBS All Access as Paramount+. Then earlier this year, WarnerMedia acquired HBO (getting it HBO Max), and MGM was acquired by Amazon, becoming part of Prime Video. That leaves Sony as the sole major studio standing on the streaming sidelines.
These are the most popular shows on Netflix
Netflix has been famously secretive about its viewer data and how its shows perform, but it became a bit more forthcoming starting last year when it started publishing its Top 10 most-watched TV shows and films.
Every Tuesday, Netflix posts 4 global Top 10 lists for films and TV, with these 2 main categories divided into English and Non-English content. The weekly data is based on hours viewed and you can look at weekly lists dating back to June 28, 2021.
Netflix also lists its most popular films and TV shows ever, based on hours viewed during a show’s first 28 days on the platform. For these rankings, it counts each season as a distinct program, so you can see which season performed the best. For example, season 2 of Bridgerton holds the #2 spot with
Here are some of the Netflix hits and recent #1 movies and TV shows from the past couple of months.
Stranger Things is without a doubt Netflix’s flagship series and one that keeps subscribers locked in. Unfortunately, its upcoming 5th season will be its last.
The supernatural/horror drama is set in the 1980s and follows the adventures of a group of kids as they investigate their friend’s disappearance. Season 4 is the second-most-watched show on the platform and sits high atop Netflix’s “Top 10 Most Popular” list for English TV with over 1.35 billion hours viewed in its first 28 days.
Squid Game – another Netflix original – is the platform’s most popular show overall (in any language). Its first season attracted enough eyeballs to watch 1.65 billion hours in its first 28 days. It’s just the kind of hit show Netflix needs to take the place of the recently departed Ozark and the soon-to-depart Stranger Things.
Even though it’s the streamer’s most popular program ever, it’s definitely not for everyone. The Korean survival drama is packed with extreme violence, sex, and torture, revolving around 456 financially-troubled contestants competing in a series of deadly children’s games.
Nonetheless, it garnered 14 Emmy nominations this year and was the first non-English language show to ever be nominated for Best Drama.
Netflix’s third-most-watched program is another Netflix original and also a non-English show. The 5th season of Spain’s Money Heist tallied over 792 million hours viewed in its first 28 days. Not only that, its 4th season had over 619 million hours viewed, placing it behind only the first 2 seasons of Bridgerton on Netflix’s all-time most-watched lists, regardless of language or format.
The series follows a group of 8 unconnected (and anonymous) people selectively recruited by a criminal mastermind known as the Professor. The first 2 seasons have the gang robbing the Royal Mint of Spain, then they regroup in the later seasons to rob the Bank of Spain.
It won and was nominated for numerous awards, including winning an International Emmy for Best Drama Series in 2018.
In the same way that Hulu has a knack for limited series, Netflix’s forte is clearly the regular, ongoing TV series. However, it’s been investing heavily in major motion pictures as well. This year’s The Gray Man, starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, cost a reported $200 million and ranks 4th on Netflix’s all-time list for English-language films.
Sitting at #1 for films is Red Notice, starring Hollywood heavyweights Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot. The action-comedy has an Interpol agent, FBI agent, and world-renowned art thief team up to hunt down an ever more-renowned art thief – and blockbuster shenanigans ensue.
With over 364 million hours viewed in its first 28 days, it’s Netflix’s most popular movie to date. Nielsen also reported that it was the fifth-most-watched streaming movie in 2021. Also budgeted at $200 million, the film has 2 sequels planned that are set to be filmed back-to-back.
Netflix has plenty of locally-produced content
Netflix has established relationships with production companies in many different countries. For example, Netflix brought in the South Korean drama production company AStory and the result was the zombie-flavored period drama Kingdom.
Production companies in Japan, Korea, India and Thailand have also teamed up with Netflix. Since Netflix controls the rights to these locally produced shows and movies, all Netflix subscribers can enjoy them with subtitles.
Netflix offers 3 levels of stream quality
Netflix first debuted 4K streaming in 2014, when 4K technology was still quite new. Prior to that breakthrough, YouTube was the only other major streaming service that was 4K-capable. Only Netflix originals and a few nature documentaries could be viewed in 4K when Netflix first debuted the feature, but now there are over 1,100 titles in 4K according to HD Report.
However, while Netflix’s stream quality is up to 4K, only Premium subscribers get access to that level of quality. Basic subscribers can only view content in 480p SD, which is essentially only good for watching on mobile devices.
Standard subscribers can watch content in up to 1080p HD quality, which is typically good enough for most people – until they’ve experienced 4K in all its glory. But for people with home theater setups who’ve invested in a 4K big-screen TV, HD quality probably isn’t going to cut it.
Netflix can be watched on a wide range of devices
Netflix has a robust app lineup. Nearly every type of popular TV device has a Netflix app, from streaming media players to smart TVs and even Blu-ray players.
Watch Netflix on Roku devices
You don’t even need to visit Roku’s app store to download Netflix. Most Roku devices come with Netflix pre-installed.
Watch Netflix on Amazon’s Fire TV Stick
As is the case with Roku, Amazon ships their Fire TV Stick devices with Netflix already installed. All you have to do to get started is click the Netflix app. From there, you can either set up a new account or access your current one if you’re already a subscriber.
Watch Netflix on Apple TV
Apple TV 2 and Apple TV 3 both come with Netflix pre-installed, but if you have an Apple TV 4 or Apple TV 4K, you’ll have to download Netflix from the Apple Store to get started.
Watch Netflix on iPhones and iPads
Netflix looks even better on an iPad since it’s optimized to use the extra space afforded by the larger screen. The iTunes app has a 4/5 star rating, but most of the negative reviews don’t have much to say about the actual app – they’re mainly complaints about how the content library changes between Netflix regions.
Watch Netflix on Android phones and tablets
It’s got over a billion downloads on Google Play, and from the 13.6 million people who left reviews, it’s got an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5. Most of the complaints center around various minor bugs and glitches.
Watch Netflix on smart TVs
Netflix has partnered with a wide variety of smart TV makers, including Hisense, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba. Smart TVs that are a part of Netflix’s “Netflix Recommended TV” program come equipped with a Netflix button on their remotes and Netflix preinstalled.
Watch Netflix on desktops and laptops
In addition to the apps mentioned above, you can watch Netflix the good old-fashioned way by opening up a web browser and logging into the Netflix website. All the most popular browsers are compatible and you don’t have to install anything extra to begin streaming.
Watch Netflix on other platforms and devices
A wide variety of different Blu-ray players are compatible with Netflix, including devices from Samsung, Sony, Philips, Toshiba and several others. Pretty much any Blu-ray player that has a built-in WiFi antenna can access the on-demand service.
For a deep dive into which devices you can watch Netflix on, check out our article on Netflix Device Support in 2022.
How helpful is Netflix customer support?
Even though Netflix is very easy to use, problems can obviously arise now and then. Service outages are increasingly rare these days, but they still happen from time to time. There may be occasions when Netflix apps glitch out and need to be reinstalled or tweaked.
When these types of situations arise, the fastest way to get help is through Netflix’s support site: help.netflix.com. The site will connect you with knowledge base articles that will hopefully help you resolve your issue. You can also search for error codes there. If you can’t find a solution on your own, you can get in touch with Netflix’s 24/7 online chat help desk.
To find out if there’s an outage, you can visit Is Netflix Down? or check Netflix’s official Twitter account. And for our deep dive into the streamer’s support, check out Netflix Customer Support in 2022 – What Kind of Help Can I Get?
How to cancel your Netflix subscription
Canceling Netflix is a simple and painless process. All you have to do is log into your Netflix account, select Account and then click the big grey Cancel Netflix button. After you verify that you want to cancel, you can continue using the service until the next billing period arrives. At that point, you’ll lose access to Netflix. You don’t have to complete any surveys or make a phone call to quit.
Check out How to Cancel Your Netflix Subscription for more information about stopping your service.
What is Netflix’s refund policy?
There’s no way to get a refund after you cancel your Netflix subscription. You can access your account until the next billing period, after which you have 10 months to reactivate it. If you wait any longer to restart your subscription, Netflix will delete all of your account data.
Final comments on Netflix in 2022
The fact that Netflix is changing may actually be one of the biggest reasons to remain a subscriber. Netflix has always been a fascinating company to watch and it’s showing no signs of falling into complacency. It’ll be interesting to see what the service comes up with next.
A DVD mail-order service seemed like a risky venture back in 1999, but Netflix made a killing with it – although it had a hand in putting brick-and-mortar rental shops out of business in the process. A few years later, Netflix launched the first commercially successful streaming service at a time when the technology was just becoming viable. It then shook up the TV and movie industry by producing its own titles – many of which turned out to be wildly popular – and becoming the first streaming service to win an Emmy, with the critically acclaimed House of Cards.
Today, Netflix is providing opportunities for international content producers that have never been available before. Filmmakers and TV show producers from across the world have a chance to tell their stories to a global audience, and that alone is a tremendous reason to stay tuned, even in light of the plethora of streaming options out there.