Local telcos keen to team up with new Netflix service here

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings giving his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Netflix's Singapore launch is part of its push into 130 new nations, on top of the 60 where it already has a presence.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings giving his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Netflix's Singapore launch is part of its push into 130 new nations, on top of the 60 where it already has a presence.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

If you can't beat them, join them.

As Netflix opens its library of TV shows and movies without cuts to viewers in Singapore, both Singtel and StarHub are looking to cut deals with the Internet TV network.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Media Development Authority (MDA) said that it welcomed Netflix's arrival.

"The MDA will continue to work with Netflix to provide viewers with more informed choices and put in place measures to safe-guard the young from inappropriate content."

 
 
 

The Singapore launch is part of Netflix's simultaneous push into 130 new countries, on top of the 60 where it already has a presence. This was announced yesterday by Netflix chief executive Reed

  • What's playing on local screens

  • R21-rated movies

    A Clockwork Orange

    American History X

    Fight Club

    Kill Bill Volume 1

    Pulp Fiction

    Sex And The City: The Movie

    Notable movies available here but not in the US version

    Argo

    Gravity

    Inception

    Man Of Steel

    Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

    Pacific Rim

    Seven

    Star Trek (2009)

    The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

    The Shawshank Redemption

    Notable TV shows available here but not in the US version

    Better Call Saul

    Black Sails

    Elementary

    Penny Dreadful

    Under The Dome

    Top TV shows not in local version

    Breaking Bad

    Doctor Who

    House Of Cards

    Mad Men

    Sherlock

    The Walking Dead

    There is one Chinese TV series and a few Bollywood movies in the local version of Netflix.

    There are also no South Korean TV dramas and a mere handful of Japanese anime titles.

Hastings at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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

Users can view Netflix on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as via set-top boxes with the Netflix app installed. In Singapore, it will cost between $11 and $17 a month to access Netflix's library.

Local telcos are keen to join hands with the service.

Mr Goh Seow Eng, managing director of Singtel's consumer Singapore home division, said: "Singtel customers can look forward to enjoying Netflix content with us soon."

A spokesman for StarHub said it was exploring a partnership with Netflix. This will allow viewers access to Netflix content over a StarHub set-top box.

When the American streaming company revealed late last year that it was planning a 2016 launch of the service here, many local consumers thought the service would have curated offerings due to the strict censorship laws here.

The content includes uncensored versions of Orange Is The New Black, Spartacus and Marco Polo.

TV series Orange Is The New Black weaves a tale about life in a women's prison and features nudity and drug use, while dramas Spartacus and Marco Polo are known for their casual depiction of female nudity and sexual orgies.

Netflix said that rather than removing any titles - some of which have been rated R21 - from its library, it will follow rating guidelines from the MDA to ensure these titles reach the appropriate audience.

As the higher-tier Netflix accounts allow for multiple users to use the same account simultaneously, the viewing restriction involves the use of a parental-control personal identification number (PIN) set by the account owner to restrict access to adult titles. Currently, Netflix is offering the same restricted PIN access to users in Germany.

"We hope that by giving this granular level of control, governments don't have to worry so much about an across-the-board style of content restriction," Mr Greg Peters, Netflix's chief streaming and partnerships officer and president of Netflix Japan, said in an exclusive interview with The Straits Times.

"It is a model that we have in Germany. It is not only regulatory thinking, but also what consumers expect when they use the service. We thought Singapore was an appropriate market to do it again.

"We remain hopeful that Singapore regulators will see the benefit of this model and hopefully evolve that over time."

Checks on the library offered to Singapore revealed that some shows, including Netflix's first original production, House Of Cards, are missing from the local service. But that is not because of censorship.

A Netflix spokesman explained that the rights for some titles such as House Of Cards had been sold to other partners in the region.

Other rights, such as those for Hong Kong action films and Japanese anime, were picked up only for the United States.

Netflix said that moving forward, it aims to pick up global rights for all of its streaming content.

•With additional reporting by Irene Tham

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2016, with the headline 'Local telcos keen to team up with new Netflix service here'. Print Edition | Subscribe