Netflix’s movie and TV streaming service is now available on over 200 different devices – mostly TVs, Blue-ray players and games consoles. I think there is a lesson here for media distribution businesses in the digital age – Netflix has been hugely successful in large part because they have made it dead easy for customers to access their content, and that means being available on devices they already own.
Most devices access the service via Netflix’s API, and the second lesson is that having a good, flexible and evolvoing/improving API is key to making it easy and attractive for device manufacturers to embed your service (probably second only to having a fantastic service in the first place).
In the video below Mike Hart, Netflix’s Director of Engineering talks about how they launched and developed their API and a lot of the thinking behind it. At the end he starts talking about HTML5, and how their service is now available on the iPhone and some games devices as an HTML5 app, which allows them to AB test, monitor usage and iterate to improve the service in ways that simply aren’t possible over the API.