Netflix is coming to South Africa next month, and it’s got an ace up its sleeve

Orange is the New Black
Orange is the New Black
Image: Netflix screenshot
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Netflix is set to go live in South Africa next month, according to various local reports—almost exactly a year after the online video service first hinted at debuting on the continent.

Netflix may find it difficult to take on the rivals owned by Africa’s largest media company, Naspers. But there’s a good chance the Los Gatos, California, company will have a major ace up its sleeve: original Netflix-owned shows and movies.

As we’ve previously written, it won’t be plain sailing for Netflix in South Africa. Naspers, which owns the country’s biggest pay-TV service DSTV, completely dominates the market. And earlier this year, it launched a streaming video service called ShowMax that could be stiff competition for Netflix.

But here’s the thing: aside from sports, one of the more popular genres of television shows that DSTV carries is Netflix originals. So shows like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, and movies like Beasts of No Nation, will very likely be pulled from South Africa’s top pay-TV channels when Netflix launches. There’s already speculation that DSTV may be forced to reduce its fees if these popular shows become available elsewhere.

Netflix has already invested billions of dollars in original content, and is expected to spend up to $5 billion in 2016 as it tries to reduce its reliance on traditional Hollywood studio-produced television shows and movies. Those shows can only be licensed for a limited time period.

Owning shows improves Netflix’s leverage in programming license negotiations with Hollywood. And its original content looks likely to give it a competitive advantage abroad, too.