Behind the Scenes at Netflix

Have you ever wondered about the magic that takes place between the time where you seal up your netflix movie, send it back, and receive a new one? Well I know I have. Here’s some insight into the Netflix movie crew; enriching our lives with cinema every day. God Netflix was a good idea.


Returned DVDs: await opening and inspection at Netflix’s Carol Stream distribution facility, where employees, called “associates,” begin shifts as early as 3 a.m.

Inspected Employees: remove discs from their mailing envelopes before studying each surface.

Trash Associates: throw away the used mailing envelopes.

Detailed inspection: to inspect each disc, employees rip open the envelope, toss it, pull the disc from its sleeve, check that the title matches the sleeve, inspect the disc for cracks or scratches, inspect the sleeve for stains or marks, and clean the disc with a quick circular motion.

Closer look: after reviewing a DVD, employees insert it back into the sleeve and file it in one of two bins: one for acceptable discs and one for damaged discs or ones that weren’t returned in the proper sleeve.

Inspection time: Employees must inspect a minimum of 650 discs per hour.

Company goals: Signs hanging in the 28,500-square-foot warehouse remind workers to carefully look over every disc for problems.

Cleaning up: A Netflix employee sweeps the floor.

Decor: Every Netflix warehouse looks like every other Netflix warehouse, down to the same flat, bright wattage of its light bulbs. It’s not attractive, which might explain the hasty mismatch of promotional posters taped to its walls like college dorm decor—a poster for “Atonement” alongside a poster for the direct-to-video “Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief” alongside a horror flick poster.

Stretch: Carol Stream Netflix employees take a break every 65 minutes to do a round of calisthenics.

Work it out: A team leader directs the staff exercise routine.

Lean back: Employees mirror the leader in lower back stretches during their calisthenics break.

Calisthenics: Netflix employees stretch out their arms.

Inventory: Returned DVDs are “checked in” after they are inspected.

Checking in: A mail sorter inventories the returned DVDs.

Scanning machine: Inspected discs are scanned back into the inventory by a machine that reads 30,000 bar codes an hour. Many discs are scanned a second time to sort them by ZIP code for shipping back out.

Zipping through: Around 95 percent of titles get rented at least once every 90 days, so keeping tabs on the inventory is key

Scanning: The entire inventory of the building is recorded daily, so other warehouses know the location of all 89 million discs owned by Netflix.

Storage: Rows of inventoried DVDs are kept at the Chicago-area hub.

DVDs: DVDs are stored in a warehouse that’s nearly as large as a football field.

Sort: Outgoing DVDs are scanned, labeled and sorted by zip code.

Sorting: An employee sorts DVDs by zip code to prepare them for shipping

Stuffing: An employee stuffs outgoing mail envelopes with DVDs.

Inventory: Stacks of stored DVDs at the Netflix warehouse, which holds several million discs.

Organized: Boxes are used to sort outgoing DVDs.

Empty bins: Empty USPS bins are on hand to fill with outgoing DVDs, which are taken to the post office every evening.

Ready to mail: Outgoing DVDs are placed into sorting bins.

Outbound DVDs: Trucks are loaded with cartons of DVDs to take to the post office, where they’ll get shipped off to Netflix subscribers.

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