Television giant Netflix comes to Pakistan

By AFP
Published: January 7, 2016
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

LAS VEGAS: Streaming pioneer Netflix said Wednesday it had significantly expanded its global footprint to 190 countries, making its Internet TV service available in 130 new markets including Pakistan and India — but not China.

The Netflix Pakistan website says users can watch TV shows and movies for $7.99 a month, with a free month offer.

California-based 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.

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“Today you are witnessing the birth of a new global Internet TV network,” cofounder 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.

Netflix is keen to get the streaming service to China’s population, but needs special permission from the government there and expects the process is “going to take time,” Hastings said during a press briefing at CES.

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.”

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Following its US launch, Netflix first expanded to Canada, and then to Latin America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Until Wednesday, 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 the award-winning “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.”

However, availability of original content could differ from country to country due to local licensing deals.

“We want citizens around the world to have access to the same content,” Hastings said, noting it may take several years to get to a point where Netflix content is consistent worldwide.

It remained to be seen whether Netflix would have to serve up edited versions of some shows or films to suit cultural sensitivities in some countries.

“The thrust of what we are trying to do is have the artistic vision be consistent around the world,” Hastings said.

With Netflix now available nearly everywhere in the world, the company’s focus for the coming decade will be on providing stellar content.

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Hastings playfully compared the big launch with having a baby, saying. “It’s a big deal, but the real work is the next 20 years.”

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.

“Our teams are not going to be focused on doing launches, which are wildly disruptive,” said Netflix head of content acquisition Ted Sarandos.

“Now we can be fully focused on finding the best content for the world.”

The global reach also means that Netflix should be tapping into more local talent for original productions from various parts of the world. Hastings and Sarandos were confident that people around the world are hungry for on-demand films and shows.

“We are just throwing out the old paradigm; everything is gone,” said actor Will Arnett, who will star in an upcoming Netflix comedy series titled “Flaked.”

“Everything you do is available everywhere around the world at the same time, it is amazing.”

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.”

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Dire Tide
    Jan 7, 2016 - 9:14AM

    Just like Youtube …. it will be banned soon in Pak….. and soon after everyone will forgot what was the actually the reason for banning it….Recommend

  • SuperNeo
    Jan 7, 2016 - 11:04AM

    Netflix in Pakistan is eyewash for illiterates , Its same India library which going to be available.Recommend

  • Anon
    Jan 7, 2016 - 12:43PM

    Netflix Library seems just as good as in other countries, Hopefully it won’t get mingled in some Drama. Good step forward.

    It’s better than pirating movies, which is basically theft. Plus we can watch anywhere with Internet, and with Lahore getting Free WiFi seems a pretty good deal :D Recommend

  • Jan 7, 2016 - 12:53PM

    Sorry our internet works like a snail.Recommend

  • Farhan Khan
    Jan 7, 2016 - 1:56PM

    @Dire Tide: Youtube is back online…Recommend

  • Haris
    Jan 7, 2016 - 2:10PM

    Lol…. How are you supposed to stream the content when Pakistan’s 4G standard service provider can’t give you more than 2 -3 Mbps…..Recommend

  • Dr.shafi
    Jan 7, 2016 - 3:06PM

    @Haris, actually we want to earn 100 times more than out of nothing, so thats the reason inretnet service providers in pak gives u tremoundous slow speed Recommend

  • Jan 7, 2016 - 3:51PM

    Who is gonna pay membership? Youtube is free!!Recommend

  • Sam
    Jan 7, 2016 - 4:35PM

    Who has the time for Netflix, where load shedding has become national hobby Recommend

  • Kantor Maricio
    Jan 7, 2016 - 5:31PM

    I hope PEMRA wakes up soon and realizes that oops Netflix needs license to operate in Pakistan otherwise Pakistani companies should not be stopped from setting competing businessRecommend

  • PakPower
    Jan 7, 2016 - 6:26PM

    @SuperNeo:

    Sorry, but I see everything on this local Netflix that I saw on my cousin’s account in Great Britain. Maybe Indians got left out?Recommend

  • Jan 7, 2016 - 6:36PM

    I will salute Netflix if they can upload talkshow within 5 minutes like zemtv is doing. Recommend

  • brar
    Jan 7, 2016 - 8:23PM

    Only the rich can afford the monthly fee of Rs.800 to 900 where as we feel difficulty paying Rs.240.00 pm for DTH or cable ?Recommend

  • Sohail
    Jan 7, 2016 - 8:53PM

    Our youth should focus on solving problems and taking nation ahead. Rather than wasting time while watching movies and talk shows. It is high time for all of us. Recommend

  • Ali
    Jan 7, 2016 - 10:52PM

    using netflix since evening now and man its a worthy deal indeed (just so you know im catching up on old shows like the IT crowd and that 70s show again, just because i can :D)Recommend

  • Musa
    Jan 7, 2016 - 11:16PM

    @Sohail yes and how can our youth take the world forward if you don’t let them see what is out there in the world. Ban youtube,ban netflix ban the net. Bury there head in the sand is that your idea of taking the nation ahead? Recommend

  • sunny
    Jan 8, 2016 - 9:47AM

    One of the good news of 2016 in Pakistan. Thanks Netflix for giving us your services in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Haris
    Jan 8, 2016 - 10:45AM

    @Farhan Khan

    No its not.Recommend

  • riaz
    Jan 9, 2016 - 12:52AM

    it will be a good oppurtunity for people to watch uninterrupted programming on netflix but net speed will cause problems…. and what about the censor and licensing?Recommend

  • delhuss
    Jan 9, 2016 - 5:59PM

    This is yet another attempt at cultural imperialism. How may hours are there in the day to watch such mindless pap ? These shows fill our minds with useless shows and programmes and do nothing to educate or inform. We should set up an educational television channel in Pakistan showing interesting and informative documentaries which are also entertaining. This will raise the educational awareness of the populace.Recommend

  • Ishaq
    Jan 9, 2016 - 6:43PM

    PEMRA: If you want people to revive their faith in you, you won’t call Netflix out on ‘censorship’ because it’s very much a luxury and you can’t accidentally click on a tv show and see ‘obscenity’. There is a parental control option and kids can’t watch shows that aren’t for them once you put the setting for their profile. Nobody will have any problem because people can’t watch without clicking it on the TV show. Netflix has been operating in other countries without a license; why should they get a license just for one country? Honestly a lot of people (including the ‘rich’ who can afford it) pirate tv shows and movies so Netflix can cause a decline in piracy in Pakistan. You will be able to (partially) solve a problem by allowing Netflix to operate. Recommend

  • arslan
    Jan 17, 2016 - 10:54PM

    @Haris:
    well actually youtube is back and i am using it without vpn or web proxy :)Recommend

  • arslan
    Jan 17, 2016 - 10:57PM

    @Haris:
    yes you tube is back and i am using it wthout vpn or web proxy :)Recommend

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