Netflix moves into 130 more countries, nearly completes worldwide expansion

SAN FRANCISCO -- Netflix has already crossed off the biggest item on its New Year's list of resolutions. The Internet video service debuted in 130 countries Wednesday in a surprise move likely to reel in millions of new subscribers.

See Full Article

CEO Reed Hastings revealed the scope of Netflix's expansion at the end of a presentation in Las Vegas at CES, one of the technology industry's marquee events.

"You are witnessing the birth of a global TV network," Hastings crowed on stage.

The news caught almost everyone off guard because Netflix had previously set a goal of being available in most of the world by the end of this year. It looked like the Los Gatos, California, company had plenty of work ahead it because it ended December in 60 countries.

Now, Netflix is available in 21 different languages and streaming in just about every market that it had in its sights, with the notable exception of China, the world's most populous country. Entering China may be a formidable challenge requiring potentially prickly negotiations with a government that blocks its citizenry from seeing material it considers objectionable or incendiary.

In an interview, Hastings said the company will try to a partner in China while it tries to appease the country's Communist government, a process that he hopes to complete by the end of this year.

"The key in approaching the Chinese business is really working on relationships," Hastings told The Associated Press. "In the rest of the world, we are racing ahead."

Netflix currently has no plans to push into North Korea, Syria or Crimea because of restrictions on U.S. companies operating in those countries. The company's service also may not be an immediate hit in several other major countries, including Russia, Turkey and Poland, where it will only be available in English.

Nevertheless, investors were delighted with Netflix's quantum leap across the globe. Its stock climbed $10.02, or 9 per cent, to close at $117.68 on a grim day in the rest of the market.

The uptick in the shares reflects a belief that Netflix is now in a position to sign up more subscribers this year than analysts had previously anticipated, generating additional revenue that the company can spend on TV series and movies as it bids against rivals such as HBO, Amazon.com, YouTube and Hulu for licensing rights.

Netflix Inc. began the year with more than 70 million subscribers and management had already vowed to spend about $5 billion this year licensing video from studios around the world.

Increasingly, Netflix has been buying material that only can be seen on its service, with more than 600 hours of original programming lined up for this year. That slate encompasses more than 50 exclusive TV shows and movies, including award-winning series such as "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black."

Although Netflix is now virtually worldwide, not of all its entertainment will be available everywhere. For instance, a prized licensing contract that gives Netflix the rights to Walt Disney films after their theatrical release will be limited to the U.S. and Canada as part of a deal negotiated several years ago. Hastings told reporters Wednesday that Netflix is hoping to expand those rights into other countries.

Netflix has come up with a formula that has proven addictive as its service has transformed the entertainment industry by allowing people to watch video anytime they want on an Internet-connected device.

Hastings revealed Wednesday that Netflix subscribers watched 42.5 billion hours of programming last year, including 12 billion hours in the October-December fourth quarter. The fourth-quarter viewership volume represented a nearly 50 per cent increase from 8.25 billion hours the previous year. Put another way, Netflix subscribers are now watching a weekly average of 13 hours of programming, up from 12 hours the previous year.

In remarks to reporters, Hastings likened the near-completion of Netflix's worldwide expansion to a parent having a baby. "It's a big deal, but the real work is the next 20 years," Hastings, 55, said.

In a subsequent interview, Hastings said he hopes to remain at Netflix for those 20 years. "There is nothing else I want to do."



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Ford expects its profits will fall in 2018

    Economic CTV News
    DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. says its pretax earnings will likely fall in 2018 as U.S. sales soften, commodity costs increase and it invests heavily in new electric and hybrid vehicles. Ford expects to earn between $1.45 and $1.70 per share this year. Source
  • Valeant says California judge gives preliminary approval to Allergan settlement

    Economic CTV News
    LAVAL, Que. - Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. says a U.S. District Court judge gave his preliminary approval Tuesday to a US$290-million settlement of lawsuits stemming from the unsuccessful attempted hostile takeover in 2014 of Botox maker Allergan Inc. Source
  • With a US$6B charge comes new thoughts about GE's future

    Economic CTV News
    BOSTON -- General Electric Co. is signalling it may undergo a more comprehensive transformation, a decade after breaking off substantial pieces of the multinational conglomerate in bid to a return it to its industrial roots. Source
  • GE to pay US$15B for past mistakes amid breakup speculation

    Economic CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- General Electric Co. will pay US$15 billion to make up for the miscalculations of an insurance subsidiary as a new regime weighs future changes that could culminate in a breakup of a company conceived in the industrial age. Source
  • Carillion Canada says it's soldiering on despite U.K. parent's financial woes

    Economic CBC News
    A spokesman for the Canadian subsidiary of insolvent British construction giant and state contractor Carillion says it's business as usual in Canada despite the parent company's collapse on Monday. Cody Johnstone says that Carillion Canada is not in liquidation and its 6,000 employees in Canada continue to be paid, along with its subcontractors and suppliers. Source
  • McDonald's sets worldwide recycling goals

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- McDonald's says it aims to use all recycled or other environmentally friendly materials for its soda cups, Happy Meal boxes and other packaging by 2025. The world's biggest burger chain also wants all of its 37,000 restaurants worldwide to recycle customer waste by that year. Source
  • Canadian natural gas industry a 'sad story': analyst

    Economic CBC News
    A prominent commodities analyst struck a gloomy tone as he delivered a blunt assessment of the Canadian natural gas industry's fortunes this year, describing it as a "sad story." In front of a few hundred oilpatch members at the Calgary Petroleum Club in the city's downtown, commodities analyst Martin King admitted his Tuesday morning presentation for gas was one of his most negative. Source
  • Nutrien to sell Israel Chemical stake for expected US$700 million

    Economic CTV News
    SASKATOON -- Fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd. says it plans to sell all of its holdings in Israel Chemicals Ltd. in a secondary share offering for an expected US$700 million. The sale comes as one of the requirements set out by global regulators for Potash Corp. Source
  • Australia files WTO complaint against Canadian wine sales measures

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Australia has filed a complaint about Canada's rules around wine sales with the World Trade Organization. The complaint filed Friday argues that Canada's distribution, licensing and sales measures discriminate against imported wine. Source
  • Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA -- A trade association for Canada's beer industry wants the federal government to stop its plan to annually increase a tax on the alcoholic drink. Beer Canada has launched a new campaign calling on Canadians to sign a petition asking Finance Minister Bill Morneau to axe the escalating beer tax. Source