Most of us probably don’t want to imagine a world without Netflix. As of Wednesday morning, the vast majority of people around the globe will now be able to experience what it’s like to live with it.
Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings gave a keynote address at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday that included a number of reveals and celebrity guests. Chelsea Handler (Chelsea Does), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Will Arnett (Arrested Development, BoJack Horsman), and Wagner Moura (Narcos) were among the stars of Netflix original programs that made the trip to Sin City in support of the streaming service. But while attendees were fixated on the famous faces and trailers for Netflix originals like “The Crown” and “The Get Down,” the real headline was taking place on several other continents. “You are witnessing the birth of a global TV network,” proclaimed Hastings just as Netflix launched its streaming service in 130 new countries.
This unprecedented move by Netflix makes its movie and TV offerings available to an abundance of new territories that include India, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Turkey. That brings the total to a 190 countries worldwide, with only a few nations yet to come into the fold. During the company’s CES keynote address, Hastings wasn’t shy about pointing out that China, the world’s most populated nation, remains on the short list of countries (along with North Korea and Syria) where the streaming service is not available. “China is obviously a very large country. There are a billion Chinese that we want to give access to Netflix content,” said Hastings during a Q&A session that followed the keynote. Underlining the company’s resolve to be welcomed into the Chinese market, Hastings added “In China you need specific permission from the government. We’re continuing to work on that, and we’re very patient.”
The majority of new countries that will now have access to Netflix will be receiving content in English, but the company is also adding Korean and Arabic to the list of 17 languages that it already offers. However, the real task this expansion presents won’t be in the language department. In order to operate in new countries, Netflix must tailor its content to be deemed appropriate to various cultures. Hastings said the company was mulling over the idea of “airplane cuts” of productions in order to remove mature content that may prove distasteful and offensive in some parts of the world.
It’s too soon to tell how well the population of the newly added countries will take to Netflix, but as Hastings noted at CES “Internet connectivity is getting better and better. Netflix-ready devices are already deployed throughout the world. And people love movies and TV shows. If given the opportunity, they are willing to pay a fair price rather than resort to piracy.”
The new global initiative from Netflix has already driven the company’s stock up since Wednesday morning. But Hastings isn’t counting his chickens before they hatch. “Today’s launch is like having a baby,” explains Hastings. “It’s a big deal, but the real work is the next 20 years.”
Stay tuned to find out when different countries get hooked on their favorite shows.
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