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Marketplace Morning Report

Netflix expands to… pretty much everywhere

Kimberly Adams Jan 7, 2016
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Netflix has expanded it streaming service to another 130 countries and so brought the number of countries that can now binge-watch “House of Cards” to more than 190.

China is the big one not included in that list, although Netflix says it’s working on it. Many  of the places where people woke up to Netflix this morning are in the developing world, and some don’t have great online access.

Mohamed Samir, 34, lives in Egypt has a connection that gives him four megabytes a second. That’s slow by American standards, but pretty fast in Egypt.  As a film producer and director, he had heard of Netflix before, and thought it was an interesting model.

“So when I read yesterday that Netflix will open all over the world, right away I just went to my a Apple TV today and set up my account,” he said, browsing the collection of documentaries and shows even as he chatted by phone. 

Samir signed up for the free trial, and he said he’ll probably pay for the $10 monthly subscription once the trial finishes.

“For me as an audience and also for me as a filmmaker and looking for places to distribute my films, this is a very good method,” he said.

Netflix is targeting potential customers like Samir in Egypt and throughout the developing world. Picking up local content is going to be key, said Dan Rayburn, who researches streaming media at Frost and Sullivan, a consulting firm.

“With any service like Netflix,” he said, “when you roll into more countries, you have to have content that subscribers in those countries and those regions want to watch.”

Netflix management has already committed to spending $5 billion this year on content, but streaming that content across slow and often already clogged networks will be a challenge. 

“The customers are in place, the need is in place,” said Robert Tashima of Oxford Business Groupwho regularly works throughout Africa and pointed out that many African countries have already built most of the infrastructure for broadband. “At the moment it’s just that last mile of connectivity in terms of the internet which is really lacking”

Tashima says bandwidth is expanding throughout the continent, and now Netflix is well positioned to take advantage.

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