Netflix to launch in Singapore in early 2016 with curated selection of shows

Among the original content by Netflix are the award-winning series Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards.
Among the original content by Netflix are the award-winning series Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - Popular content streaming company Netflix has announced that it will launch its Internet streaming service in Singapore in early 2016, as part of its global roll-out by the end of 2016.

Details on pricing and the type of content it will make available here were not revealed, but Singapore will join South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan in launching the service in the region by early 2016. A report by The Korea Times, based on a quote from an unnamed source, put the South Korean launch as January 2016.

The service made its Asian debut last Wednesday (Sept 2) when it was launched in Japan. Netflix said that it would be partnering with TV broadcaster Fuji Television Network and Osaka-based entertainment conglomerate Yoshimoto Kogyo to create original, local content for the market.

While the service offers movies, TV shows and original shows produced by Netflix, the library of available titles varies with each market and region. The US version of the service reportedly offers over 7,500 movies and TV shows, while the UK version has over 3,000.

Among the original content by Netflix are the award-winning series Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards.

According to a statement by Netflix, a "curated selection of TV shows and films" will be available for its local service, though no figure or sample titles was provided.

Given Singapore's tough censorship laws, Netflix will likely be working closely with the Media Development Authority (MDA) in classifying its content.

Previously, Apple and Google launched their movie buying and rental services in Singapore, but were caught offering R21 rated titles, such as Fifty Shades of Grey and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, to local users. R21 titles are meant for theatrical and not home video release.

Both companies have since removed R21 titles from their service, and are working with the MDA on classifying its content.

"MDA welcomes Netflix's expansion to Singapore. It will inject greater vibrancy into our media sector and provide viewers with more choices," said an MDA spokesman.

"MDA will work with Netflix to familiarise them with Singapore's regulations and media capabilities ahead of their arrival."

Netflix subscriptions also vary by country. In the United States, the basic plan that allows for one standard definition stream is priced at US$7.99 (S$11.30). In Britain, plans start from £6.49 (S$14.10), while the same plan is priced at A$8.99 (S$8.96) in Australia. Prices go up for plans that provide multiple streams, and for high definition or ultra high definition 4K content.

Netflix has not announced price plans for the region. In Japan, monthly plans start from 650 yen (S$7.60).

Netflix will be available on smart TVs, tablets and smartphones, computers and a range of Internet-capable game consoles and set-top boxes. Local smart TVs are currently not installed with the Netflix app. The Netflix app is also not available on the local Google Play or Apple App Store at the moment.

Though it has not been launched in Singapore, local viewers have been known to use VPN (Virtual Private Network) services to gain access to the streaming service, which is currently blocked by geo-restrictions.

According to Internet service provider ViewQwest, more than half of the traffic on its broadband network is from users accessing Netflix content here.