Janet Jacksons Nip Slip Inspires Netflix

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Janet Jackson's Nip Slip Inspires Netflix


Netflix is the best video streaming service in the world. And has become a player in competition with HBO and Showtime for best premium service. But, did you know this was all due to Janet Jackson’s famous nip slip at the Superbowl in 2004. DVDs are a thing of the past because of her.


Netflix was once a company which mailed DVDs to its customers. Did you know that 4.2 million people in the US still rented physical DVDs via the mail from Netflix, own from its peak of 20 million in 2010. However, Netflix was aware that the streaming business might be were it’s at.

“One day, my bosses, Ted Sarandos and Reed Hastings, asked for a volunteer to help lead a new side project: Instead of mailing out physical DVDs to customers, could we figure out a way for our customers to view films and TV shows digitally, over the internet?”

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According to Kyncl, who is now the Chief Business Officer at YouTube, Netflix began working on a “Netflix box” for the home to enable customers to download movies in their living room but the company had trouble perfecting the technology for the box and acquiring the rights to download movies.


Then YouTube came along and changed the game. Lots of the videos uploaded to the site were of poor quality but it was the convenience and ease of access that clearly resulted in huge numbers of viewers. So what does a famous nip slip have to do with anything?


Well, the catalyst for the Netflix streaming service was seeing the success and potential of YouTube. And the catalyst for YouTube was, well, boobs.

As Jawed Karim, founder of YouTube in 2006, YouTube was partially inspired by Janet Jackson’s famous nip slip during the half time show of the Superbowl in 2004, as well as a tsunami in Asia that same year. More specifically, it was born out of the fact that it wasn’t particularly easy at the time to find videos of those events online.

As USA Today wrote: “Karim recalled the difficulty involved in finding and watching videos online of Jackson accidentally baring her breast during the Super Bowl show.”

And as the saying goes, necessity is the father of invention.

There are, of course, an almost infinite number of other forces and factors which resulted in Netflix becoming the streaming king, but nonetheless, this particular flap of the butterfly’s wings is an easy one to trace, and at the very least a fun thought experiment.

So when you sit down to watch the latest “Rick and Morty” on Netflix this weekend, be thankful that Janet Jackson exposed her breast to the world on live TV and at least one young man was determined to help people watch videos of it.

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