Netflix is the world’s leading subscription service for watching TV episodes and movies on your favorite device. It delivers the best experience anywhere, anytime.
It's an American media-services provider headquartered in Los Gatos, California. Founded by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in Scotts Valley, California, on August 29, 1997. The company's primary business is its subscription-based streaming OTT service which offers online streaming of a library of films and television programs, including those produced in-house.
The company also has offices in the Netherlands, Brazil, India, Japan, and South Korea. Netflix is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
As of April 2019, Netflix had over 148 million paid subscriptions worldwide, including 60 million in the United States, and over 154 million subscriptions total including free trials.
Netflix has been one of the most successful dot-com ventures. Netflix sought and was approved for membership into the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) on January 22, 2019, as the first streaming service to become a member of the association.
Today, it boasts over 65 million subscribers across more than 40 countries.
Netflix members stream over 140 million hours of content every day. Millions of devices all over the globe connect to thousands of Netflix servers to stream content that brings joy to their members.
So, delivering online video at this scale while maintaining a high bar for performance is an incredible technical challenge requiring intelligent real-time algorithms running on Netflix devices and powerful, flexible internet infrastructure. They are focusing on the quality of experience, quantify by metrics like video load time, visual quality and bitrate of the delivered video, and rate of video interruptions.
The research includes models, algorithms, analytics, and experimentation to optimize video delivery on both the server and client of the video stream to deliver the best possible Netflix experience to members.
So, the question is - how Netflix delivers optimize performance World Wide?
Let's explore it -
The Netflix Open Connect program provides opportunities for ISP partners to improve their customers' Netflix user experience by localizing Netflix traffic and minimizing the delivery of traffic that is served over a transit provider.
There are two main components of the program, which are architected in partnership with ISPs to provide maximum benefit in each individual situation -
Embedded Open Connect Appliances - Open Connect Appliances (OCAs) can be embedded in your ISP network. Embedded OCAs have the same capabilities as the OCAs that Netflix uses in its 60+ global data centers, and they are provided to qualifying ISP partners at no charge. Each embedded OCA deployment will offload a substantial amount of Netflix content traffic from peering or transport circuits. Multiple physical deployments can be distributed or clustered on a geographic or network basis to maximize local offload. embedded OCAs are not always deployed, depending on your traffic levels, data center limitations, or other factors. Deploying embedded OCAs is usually the most beneficial option for substantial Netflix traffic.
Settlement-free interconnection - Netflix has the ability to interconnect at a number of global data center facilities and public Internet Exchange fabrics as listed on its Peering Locations page. It openly peers with any network at IXP locations where it's mutually present and consider private interconnection as appropriate.
With Open Connect, Netflix’s content delivery network works to predict tomorrow’s streaming demand and appropriately pre-position video assets overnight at every server location in the network.
The prediction problem is especially challenging for new content with no prior streaming history, and the pre-positioning problem is complex due to different regional popularity around the world and a host of different server hardware and configurations.
By successfully placing video files close to Netflix members before they press play, its proactive caching system enables rapid delivery of very high-quality streams while minimizing internet congestion.
It obsessed with brilliant playback experiences. It playbacks to start instantly, stream at great quality, and never stop unexpectedly.
As it streams content over an increasingly diverse array of network and device conditions, there are new and exciting challenges in this area.
It combines expertise in streaming with statistical modeling, machine learning, and experimentation to understand, experiment on, and improve the experience of the members.
Video Quality Management
To deliver an enjoyable viewing experience to the members, it strives to encode video streams with the best perceptual quality possible, given the constraints of network bandwidth and viewing device.
For this, it requires an accurate way to measure video quality, at scale, as a human would perceive it. By combining expertise in subjective testing, human vision, signal processing, and machine learning, it develops video quality metrics that can accurately predict perceptual quality across different content, devices (phone, TV) and formats (SD, HD, 4K, HDR).
Amazon Web Services
Requested content is retrieved from an index stored on a database. The server handles the request using a microservice architecture. These are software that runs on the cloud, with Amazon’s AWS being a part of the system. This uses many applications that communicate with other applications in order to distribute tasks and resources. They communicate using what is called an API (Application Programming Interface). One service will handle the request and pass it on as a database query to another service, which will return the result. Once the result has been returned, another service will process it to retrieve the content.
Netflix also uses a preferred vendor program called NPV (Netflix Preferred Vendor). These are media and engineering partnerships that ensure that the device’s video playback is acceptable and the apps launch properly. This is to provide quality control of devices that work in the Netflix network ecosystem. This is one way to prevent poor performance so as to guarantee that a device meets the standards set forth by Netflix.
Netflix is huge. They’re global, they have a lot of members, they play a lot of videos, and they have a lot of money.
Another relevant factoid is Netflix is subscription based. Members pay Netflix monthly and can cancel at any time. Netflix controls your video viewing experience from beginning to end. That’s why it just works when you click play from anywhere in the world. You reliably get the content you want to watch when you want to watch it.
Stock photo from r.classen