Netflix Goes Global With Expansion Into 130 New Countries
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Netflix was also a big thing at the Consumer Electronics Show. Here is CEO Reed Hastings speaking at the show yesterday morning.
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REED HASTINGS: While you have been listening to me talk, the Netflix service has gone live in nearly every country of the world but China, where we hope to also be in the future.
MCEVERS: People can now stream Netflix from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and almost 200 countries in between. Hastings said this was the birth of a global TV network.
Gina Keating has been following Netflix for several years. She wrote the book "Netflixed: The Epic Battle For America's Eyeballs," and she is on the line now.
And Gina, it sounds like you might have to change your book's subtitle.
GINA KEATING: Yes, absolutely. And I was not surprised that they were going to be expanding internationally. I'm surprised that they went live in 130 countries on one day. They were planning to expand internationally and complete that expansion by the end of this year, but this is pretty amazing, by them, to be able to do that.
MCEVERS: I mean - so why does Netflix need to do this now?
KEATING: Well, they are slowing down their growth in the United States. And so in order to keep on growing, they're going to have to expand internationally. And in fact, they believe that at some point, international subscribers are going to far outweigh the American base.
MCEVERS: But when the CEO says things like birth of a global TV network - I mean, that sounds like pretty big talk. Are we - is this really a radical transformation of the company here?
KEATING: It's not really a radical transformation of the company because the model that they're bringing to all the countries that they enter is pretty much the same as what they pioneered in the United States.
KEATING: The thing that they're going to have to do really well in these other countries is get the local content that people watch, which is what made them successful here. Now they're going into original content which is driving a lot of their growth, and I expect that's probably what will happen overseas. But what they have right now is an infrastructure that they're going to have to build out.
MCEVERS: I mean, you also think about countries like India and places where piracy is widespread. How do you think Netflix will have to change the way it does things to deal in that environment?
KEATING: They have talked about that, and I think their motto is just that if it's easy enough and it's compelling enough in terms of price and content, that people would rather do that than steal it because the quality is going to be better and it's just going to be simpler. But I don't know that they can do a whole lot about it except just encrypt it better.
MCEVERS: You know, some of the countries on this list, though, have pretty limited access to broadband. And we know Netflix takes a lot of bandwidth. How does that play into this announcement?
KEATING: You know, that is going to be really difficult. I mean, you can't imagine that there are going be a whole lot of subscribers in Afghanistan. But, you know, they stream on everything. You can get it on the phones and everything else. And they do actually have some political pull. In the United States, they got involved with broadband caps and net neutrality. They were a big player.
And every month, on their website, they put a report on ISP speeds that consumers can look at and switch to the fastest provider. I mean, they got involved in Canada in a huge broadband cap debate, so I wouldn't be surprised if they got involved in that sort of thing. But yeah, you're right. I mean, in some countries, it just - it's going to be a kind of a long wait.
KEATING: But in other countries, where the broadband infrastructure is better developed, I imagine they're probably going to be growing quite fast enough to compensate for the ones where they won't grow fast.
MCEVERS: Yeah, you think South Korea - has faster than we do. I mean, you know.
KEATING: Yeah, me, too.
MCEVERS: You can imagine how many movies people will be able to watch.
That's Gina Keating. She's the author of the book "Netflixed." Thanks for being on the show today.
KEATING: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.