Netflix, already the global leader in streaming television, just launched in 130 additional new countries, essentially covering the entire world except for China.
Major countries where Netflix will be available for the first time include India, South Korea, Russia, Nigeria, and Indonesia. Perhaps the smallest addition is Antarctica, which is home to just a few thousand people at any time.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made the surprise announcement during his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. ”The number one question I get is, ‘When is Netflix going to be available here?’,” Hastings told the crowd. The answer, apparently, is now.
The largest addition, by population, is India. But it remains to be seen how many people there will be willing to pay 500-800 rupees per month (about $7-12) for the service. Large swaths of the country also lack the quality of internet access necessary to stream video. These challenges will arise in many of Netflix’s new markets.
South Korea, with its relatively affluent population and excellent connectivity, may be the most promising new market for Netflix.
The most glaring omission is clearly China, which maintains both strict internet censorship and strong regulations on foreign entertainment companies. Netflix said it continues to explore options for providing the service there, and it announced that it now provides support for Chinese speakers around the world.
It also won’t be available in Crimea, North Korea, and Syria due to US government restrictions on American companies operating there.
Netflix had said it planned to complete its global expansion by the end of 2016, so its news comes about a year earlier than planned. Before the announcement, Netflix boasted over 70 million subscribers in 60 countries. Both of those numbers may be about to increase dramatically.