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Netflix的系统架构代表了一种罕见的竞争优势

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Netflix (NFLX) is the only major streamer to build out its content delivery network infrastructure. Netflix has 投资了大约10亿美元 在过去的十年里,一个曾经的秘密项目叫做 Open Connect that is proving to provide long-term strategic value to the company’s balance sheet. 

什么是内容交付网络?

In short, 内容分发网络(cdn) 是驱动所有流媒体电视服务的魔力吗. 了解对cdn的需求, let's begin with the fundamental concept that data requires time to traverse distances. 即使有光纤的速度, it still takes approximately 100 milliseconds for data to complete a roundtrip between Los Angeles and London. Now, imagine a scenario where thousands of users in London are trying to simultaneously stream the same movie and the movie is stored on a server in Los Angeles. The delay in content delivery under these circumstances would be quite substantial.

虽然数据的传输速度是有物理限制的, 有一个解决方案:我们可以定位内容 在边缘——更接近最终用户. 与房地产行业类似,cdn与位置有关. By distributing content across a network of servers geographically dispersed worldwide, 内容交付中的延迟被显著地最小化.

Here's how it operates: Streaming platforms deliver their content to CDN providers for hosting. These CDN providers then replicate the content across a collection of servers located in various countries and within different Internet Service Provider (ISP) networks.

The majority of streaming services lack their in-house delivery infrastructure and, instead, 依赖第三方内容交付网络. 像迪士尼这样的老牌流媒体平台, (HBO) Max, 而其他公司则面临着容纳不断增长的用户群的挑战, 他们通过与Akamai等外部CDN提供商合作来实现这一目标, Lumen, Edgio, AWS CloudFront, 快速分发他们的视频内容.

然而,Netflix因其独特的方法而脱颖而出. Unlike its peers, Netflix已经投入了大量资金来建立自己的CDN, 由超过17个,000台服务器战略性地分布在158个国家. 该网络的独特设计使内容更接近最终用户, 确保高效的内容交付. Netflix has been quietly pouring a mountain of cash into its CDN infrastructure called Open Connect for nearly a decade and is now positioned to reap the rewards.

建立自定义CDN的经济效益

CDNs represent the largest variable operating cost associated with technology for most major streaming platforms. Third-party CDNs charge streamers based on the consumption of bandwidth in terabytes (TB). Thus, these operating fees scale with subscriber growth and are often built into average margin-per-user economics. 

These operating costs are ballooning due to TV manufacturers' never-ending hunger to roll out advancements in picture-video quality. 大多数主流主播都有 从全高清(1080p)到4K (2160p) 在过去的几年里. The burden of offering higher resolutions falls upon each streamer's CDN infrastructure and there is no doubt that consumer demand for 8K is on the horizon as streamers are pressured to keep pace with new TVs flying off the shelves at Best Buy. 

逮老鼠的电子产品

逮老鼠的电子产品, Chart Source

Netflix touts Open Connect as a vital part of its strategy for maintaining a high-quality streaming experience and retaining subscribers. Owning (as opposed to renting) its infrastructure protects the streamer consumption-based agreements with external CDNs which inherently protects Netflix against ballooning variable technology costs and facilitates global expansion for its subscriber base. 

Open Connect is one of many reasons legacy streamers are having difficulty catching up to Netflix’s Operating Margin, 目前这个数字是17.5%, with roughly 2.38亿全球用户.

Netflix Macrotrends

NETFLIX MacroTrends

为了比较, Disney+的营业利润率为5%, 与约 1.46亿全球用户

Disney_, Macrotrends

迪斯尼+ Macrotrends

Netflix的运营利润率优势有很多因素, but it’s important to understand that competitors face a major hurdle in replicating Netflix’s efficiencies associated with its Open Connect infrastructure.

cdn在用户保持中的作用

Reliability, 优质CDN的基石, is a major concern for streaming platforms as it directly correlates to a reduction in churn rates. When many of us launch our preferred streaming platforms, we frequently encounter frustrating issues. These issues include buffering, unresponsive controls, or even complete service outages. 虽然这些问题远非理想, they have become widely accepted as the occasional drawbacks of transitioning away from traditional cable television.

For instance, 由于巨大的需求,迪士尼+在第一天就经历了崩溃, 当需求激增时,它再次陷入困境 WandaVision. HBO Max's app was so plagued with fundamental issues that even its leadership publicly acknowledged its subpar state.

该行业多年来一直在追逐Netflix的流失率, and its unique system architecture is a major reason why no competitor has managed to catch up.

天线2021年第一季度增长报告

A2021年第一季度增长报告

尽管这个行业陷入困境, outages on Netflix are few and far between and the streaming service has garnered a reputation for reliability. Netflix can achieve this because its Open Connect infrastructure is exclusive to the service, 不像第三方cdn迎合马蜂窝客户. 

长期竞争优势

Netflix's approach and infrastructure set it apart in the competitive streaming industry, 让其他玩家难以复制. 在其成长时期, Netflix had the foresight to allocate over $1B+ in capital expenditures over a decade to build out a CDN infrastructure that rivals the geographic footprint of Google/YouTube.

流媒体行业以增长为导向的投资全盛时期已经结束, and it will be difficult for a legacy streamer to rally the CapEx and time investment required to launch an in-house CDN that can replace an external service like Akamai (AKAM). Furthermore, a migration of this magnitude would likely result in a short-term reduction in reliability which could spike churn rates for competitors that already have built a critical mass of subscribers. All of the above is a tough sell for public market streamers who are under pressure to hit quarterly subscriber forecasts. 

The foresight to build this competitive moat nearly a decade ago should prove to be a long-term competitive differentiator to Netflix’s value prop and balance sheet. Netflix’s “build” instead of “buy” approach is a major reason competitors continue to chase the streaming giant’s success metrics, 包括其一流的营业利润率和流失率. 

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