CES 2016: Netflix extends its service to almost all the world

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Netflix has gone live in nearly every country in the world.

The firm announced it had switched on its service in 130 additional countries.

It said it was still trying to expand to China. The other exceptions are North Korea, Syria and Crimea, where it is banned from operating by US law.

The announcement was made by the firm’s chief executive Reed Hastings at his keynote speech at the CES tech show in Las Vegas.

He also confirmed that Netflix would begin offering HDR (high dynamic range) content later this year.

The company’s shares closed the day more than 9% higher.

“We were expecting Netflix to go everywhere, but this has happened more quickly than we thought,” commented Fernando Elizalde from the tech consultancy Gartner.

“Until now, the firm had been doing it in phased stages because of the costs of marketing and dubbing or subtitling the content.
But it’s worth remembering that in some of the emerging economies it will only be people in urban areas that will be able to use it because of limited internet availability.”
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Mr Hastings said Netflix was in talks with the Chinese government, but acknowledged it would take time to reach an agreement.

“It’s a very large country, you know a billion Chinese that we want to give access to the Netflix content,” he said.

“In China you need specific permission from the government to operate, so we are continuing to work on that and we are very patient.”

But one company watcher had doubts.

“China is going to be a tough nut to crack given that that three strong domestic services already exist,” said Mike Goodman from Strategy Analytics.

As part of its expansion, Netflix has added support for Korean, Chinese and Arabic to its list of supported languages.

That brings the total number – in which the firm provides subtitles, captions and alternative audio – to 21 languages.

Mr Hastings added that Netflix would initially focus on expanding the reach of its existing content rather than commissioning extra locally-made shows.

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