Las Vegas: Streaming pioneer Netflix has significantly expanded its global footprint to 190 countries, making its Internet TV service available in 130 new markets including India -- but not China.
Netflix, which began as a mail-order DVD service but is now producing award-winning original content alongside its offering of older shows and movies, launched in 2007. Now, 70 million subscribers pay a monthly fee for unlimited service.
"Today you are witnessing the birth of a new global Internet TV network," co-founder and chief executive Reed Hastings said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "With this launch, consumers around the world -- from Singapore to St. Petersburg, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo -- will be able to enjoy TV shows and movies simultaneously -- no more waiting." "While you have been listening to me talk, the Netflix service has gone live in nearly every country in the world except China, where we hope to be in the future."
Netflix noted in a statement that it "continues to explore options for providing the service" in China, the world's most populous country, where the government censors online content it deems to be politically sensitive. Other countries or markets without the service are Crimea, North Korea and Syria due to US government restrictions on American companies, Netflix said.
While English is the main language for most of the new markets, Netflix said it has added support for Arabic and Korean, along with simplified and traditional Chinese to the 17 languages it now uses. "From today onwards, we will listen and we will learn, gradually adding more languages, more content and more ways for people to engage with Netflix," said Hastings.
"We're looking forward to bringing great stories from all over the world to people all over the world." Following its launch, Netflix first expanded to Canada, and then to Latin America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Until today, it was available in 60 countries. The company has been shifting from recycling old shows and movies to producing more original content, with its shows such as "House of Cards" and "Orange Is The New Black." In 2016, the company plans to release 31 new and returning original series, two dozen original feature films and documentaries, as well as its own stand-up comedy specials and 30 original children's programs.
Netflix is ahead of key rivals in streaming such as Amazon and Hulu, which have also begun to produce original content. The rapid expansion is likely to impact the bottom line at Netflix.
In its most recent quarterly update, the company said that it expects "to run around break-even through 2016 and to deliver material profits thereafter." For the third quarter, Netflix posted a net profit of USD 29.4 million on revenues of USD 1.7 billion. While revenues grew 23 percent from a year ago, profits were halved.
Netflix raised prices in the US and several other countries in the past year, saying it was needed "to improve our ability to acquire and offer high quality content."