With an expansion early this year, Netflix now reaches basically anyone with an internet connection. Keeping its service running smoothly and efficiently with that many customers is a tall order, so Wired took a look and the hardware and software keeping our binge watching ticking.

Among a wide-ranging behind-the-scenes dive into Netflix’s global expansion are some interesting tidbits. On testing out different top images:

“The moment Daredevil premiered, Netflix greeted its users with eight header image variations of Matt Murdoch and friends, shown to customers in eight identically sized chunks. Netflix immediately began tracking which top shots inspired the most streaming.

By now, those eight images will have given way to the best-performing two or three. After 35 days, one of those will become the default. The rest will vanish.”

The infrastructure Netflix has to install to support its streaming needs is arguably even more impressive. The Netflix-in-a-box is not new, but the scale of the operation (and how important it is to not breaking the entire internet) is daunting:

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“The total capacity of the Internet’s country-to-country backbone is 35TB per second, says Ken Florance, Netflix’s VP of content delivery. “Our peak traffic is more than that … . Our scale is actually larger than the international capacity of the Internet.” Netflix doesn’t literally break the Internet because the vast majority of its traffic is delivered locally, via Open Connect, rather than across the transoceanic cables that connect the Internet between continents.”

The full article is a worthwhile insight into the technical and legal hoops Netflix has to jump through to operate all around the world, especially given the tangle of licensing agreements the company has to work with.

But it also provides a moment for pause: with Netflix’s global growth, and its obvious push to buy more and more original content, a future definitely exists where Netflix becomes the only big buyer of TV shows around. Sure, for now, Netflix is the cheap, friendly alternative to mean cable companies, but that might not last forever.

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[Wired]