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Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America's Eyeballs Hardcover – 28 Feb 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (28 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591844789
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591844785
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.7 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 543,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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 emo-tion 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"

About the Author

Gina Keating covered media companies, law and government as a staff writer for Reuters and United Press International for more than a decade. Her articles have been reprinted in newspapers around the world and her freelance work has appeared in Variety, Texas Monthly, Food and Wine, Southern Living and Forbes magazines.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Paul Jamieson on 11 Nov. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was a good tale of how a streaming behemoth was created. My only criticism was that it wrapped up ever so quickly. The trials and tribulations of the battle between Netflix and Blockbuster (which received a very heavy and interesting background story) seemed to have petered out with one simple line - blockbuster went bankrupt. My only criticism. Book was well researched and enjoyed in less than a week.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 47 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
An Incredible Story 15 Oct. 2012
By Zachary H. Bissonnette - Published on Amazon.com
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Blockbusted! 31 Dec. 2012
By K. Newcomer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Big Ideas and Even Bigger Egos 13 Jan. 2013
By IT Guy - Published on Amazon.com
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Enjoyed reading Netflixed 14 July 2013
By Rodney D. Merrill - Published on Amazon.com
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Bravo Gina Keating! 1 Nov. 2012
By Douglas S. Gulick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gina Keating is a gifted story teller who writes with a quick pace, and a succinct style, yet is unfailing in her ability to breath life into all of her characters. I have a particular interest in this subject as I fell in love with Netflix (or really their DVD recommendation engine) back in the day -- I suddenly was watching great movie after great movie, something Blockbuster didn't provide. And I'm still a fan as we stream movies and watch TV shows, in order, at our leisure, commercial free. But I think I would have enjoyed this book even if I had no knowledge of the subject matter beforehand, such is Keating's gift. I look forward to her next book.

The story begins as Randolph and Hastings are carpooling into Silicon Valley deciding that they want to "be the Amazon of something". They recognized that DVDs would displace VHS tapes and Hastings mails one to himself (actually, he mailed a CD, DVDs were hard to find at the time) and found it to be playable. But they still weren't sure about the business model (a-la-cart rentals, sales?). The true genius behind Netflix was how they used the market place as a test lab, trying different combinations in different locations, dissecting the customer data, before settling on the monthly subscription/online queue. The other genius was the recommendation engine, something that the internet allowed them to implement. They discovered that happy customers didn't necessarily have to see the latest release (which were more expensive) and tweaked the online recommendations for this purpose.

But the part of the book I found the most intriguing was the war with Blockbuster, and in particular the role that Carl Icahn, the activist investor played. Carl bought a 10% stake in Blockbuster and got himself elected to the board, and eventually forced out current CEO Antioco (who recognized the Netflix threat) and put in Keyes (whose lack of understanding of technology was epic!). Keyes never grasped the technological innovation that would allow movie renters to not physically enter a store. But more so, he was famously immutable to the cries of others who were aware. At one point he enthused that customers would one day load their movie rentals onto thumb drives!! A Keyes quote taken from the book: "imagine in the future the ability to have the entire library captured on a kiosk!". He virtually killed Antioco's Blockbusters Online initiative (which by Netflix's own assessment was "checkmate" with its return/pickup-at-stores feature), and diverted the money instead into additional merchandising for the stores under the belief that he could loss-leader the movie rental and make up the profits with high margin items like big gulps and pizzas! (An interesting side note was that when Antioco and his team were forced out, they all sold their Blockbuster shares and bought Netflix stock, so certain were they that Keyes would fail.) Carl's myopic pursuit of short term profits drove customers into the arms of Netflix and the rest is history.

I was disappointed that the story ended with the price hike/Quikster fiasco of last summer. I wished for more insight into the streaming business than she provided, and she also only touches briefly on the international launches into Canada and Latin America/Caribbean (and now Europe). Maybe she'll write a sequel, especially now that Carl Icahn just announced that he has purchased a 10% stake in Netflix with plans to push them toward being acquired! This story may need a second edition!

This is a great David-vs-Goliath story that happened in our time, and with something so simple as different strategies for movie rental. The story provides wonderful insights into the trials and tribulations of a start-up, and the eventual survival-of-the-fittest that exemplifies the capitalist free markets!
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