After making the local video rental shop a thing of the past, Netflix is about to obviate cinemas as well.
First, Netflix was just a mail-order DVD rental company which pivoted toward streaming.
It essentially did for TV and film what Apple's iTunes did for music: Help the industry adjust to a brave new world where endless copying and piracy is possible. As with iTunes, Netflix streaming is not as lucrative for movie studios as the more traditional distribution channels, but viewers are willing to pay a small price to legally consume media.
Netflix actually checks piracy sites to see what consumers want but can't legally get when it decides which shows to buy.
Some content creators such as HBO refuse to allow streaming, which is less profitable than syndication, and some films disappear from the streaming service when licensing deals with Netflix expire.
So Netflix started producing its own award-winning shows, such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. It has also talked about producing its own feature films, documentaries, and stand-up comedy shows.