Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Netflix launches in Ghana and 129 other countries

Netflix announced Wednesday that it’s launching in an additional 130 countries, making the streaming service available in almost every country, with the notable exception of China. 

Reed Hastings, the company’s CEO, said he’s hopeful it will launch in China in the near future. The company also pointed out that North Koreans won’t be able to access the wealth of western entertainment either – and Syria is out, too, due to US trade embargoes.

The service will largely be in English in the new countries, supported by subtitles. The company is adding Arabic, Korean and both traditional and simplified Chinese to the roster of 17 languages it already supports.

Even before today’s expansion, the company claims it’s in 70 million homes worldwide. While Netflix might not have as many customers as a large US TV network, the firm can still claim to have more reach than almost any other traditional broadcaster – the exceptions being news outlets and YouTube.

The focus of the CES news conference was mostly on how Netflix has revolutionised TV delivery. Crucially, the company is pushing forward with significant new homegrown shows, like The Crown, a drama focusing on the changing face of the British monarchy.

For the TV and film industries, Netflix does have one powerful draw: it’s incredibly good at reducing piracy. The company says that the public will gladly pay a fair monthly price to have access to movies and shows, and this can have a dramatic effect on the amount of illegally downloaded material.

Netflix’s ongoing success is about flexibility. It supports almost every mobile phone OS, works on any computer, and is available on smart TVs and other hardware platforms. This is in stark contrast to most TV broadcasters or other streaming services, like Amazon Video, which seems to delight in preventing people from seeing its content and movies.