Netflix becomes 'global TV network' in 190 countries - including Singapore

 Netflix chief exective Reed Hastings gives his keynote address.
Netflix chief exective Reed Hastings gives his keynote address.PHOTO: AFP

LAS VEGAS - The popular American streaming service Netflix said on Wednesday (Jan 6) it has significantly expanded its global footprint to 190 countries, making its Internet TV service available in 130 new markets including India and Singapore - but not China.

The announcement was made by Netflix chief executive officer and co-founder Reed Hastings in his keynote speech at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

"Today you are witnessing the birth of a new global Internet TV network," Mr Hastings said.

"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.

Until Wednesday, Netflix was available in 60 countries.

The service streams popular movies and TV shows for a flat fee and delivers content over the Internet. This allows users to watch shows wherever they want, without sticking to a broadcast schedule.

Users can also view Netflix on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, as well as on set-top boxes with the Netflix app installed.

SINGAPORE PACKAGES FROM S$10.98

Local monthly pricing for the service starts from S$10.98 for the Basic service, which allows streaming to one device in standard definition quality.

The S$13.98 Standard package offers high-definition content on two devices at the same time, while the S$16.98 Premium service offers ultra high-definition 4K content across four devices.

This is slightly cheaper than the current US pricing of US$7.99 (S$11.50) for the Basic plan, US$9.99 for the Standard plan, and US$11.99 for the Premium plan.

Those looking to subscribe to the service immediately can do so from their computer's web browser, or from their Android or Apple devices, using the Netflix app available on the respective app stores.

Due to Singapore's strict censorship requirements, Netflix has previously said that some shows available on its service might not be available to local subscribers.

Netflix, launched in 2007, began as a mail-order DVD service but is now producing award-winning original content alongside its offering of older shows and movies.

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 programmes.

Netflix is ahead of key rivals in streaming such as Amazon and Hulu, which have also begun to produce original content.

While it has not released a full list of titles available on the local service, checks show that while the controversial prison drama Orange Is The New Black can be found, the award-winning political drama, House Of Cards, starring Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey, is not available on the local service.

However, the US crime drama, Better Call Saul, which is a spin-off of the highly rated Breaking Bad TV series and currently not available on the US service, is available on the local one.

Local users who had previously subscribed to the US Netflix service using a VPN service to access the geo-blocked service can now access the streaming service without the use of a VPN.

Checks by The Straits Times show that these subscribers continue to have access to the US content of the service, and they have not been switched to the local, curated one.

sherwinl@sph.com.sg

With additional information from AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE