Netflix starts talks with MDA on launching streaming service here in 2016

Netflix announced in September that it was coming to the region, including South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, in early 2016.
Netflix announced in September that it was coming to the region, including South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, in early 2016. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM NETFLIX

SINGAPORE - Online content streaming giant Netflix says that it has already begun talks with Singapore's Media Development Authority (MDA) about rolling out the service here early next year.

Netflix's chief communications officer, Mr Jonathan Friedland, said the American company is aware of earlier instances, when Apple and Google launched its digital movie services here without consulting MDA, and then had to pull restricted content from its local store immediately after.

"We don't want to do that. We are in discussions with the MDA but I don't have the details," explained the executive.

"We want to have good relations with the Government, and also give consumers what they want. Our goal is to empower consumers."

Netflix uses the Internet to stream movies and TV shows across devices such as TVs, tablets, smartphones and game consoles, and prices for the service start from US$7.99 (S$11.13). The service is currently available in over 60 countries and Netflix has 69 million global subscribers.

Unlike traditional television broadcast, Netflix offers the complete season of a TV show from the start, instead of releasing a new episode each week. It is also one of the few services that offer ultra high-definition 4K movies and TV shows for a flat monthly fee.

The company announced in September that it was coming to the region, including South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, in early 2016. There is still no launch date or local subscription prices, though Mr Friedland says that prices here should match current ones in the United States.

The company is in the midst of establishing its Asian regional hub here by early next year. Aside from content from American studios and broadcaster, Netflix also produces several award-winning shows, including political drama House Of Cards and comedy-drama Orange Is The New Black.

It has tied up with partners in Japan and South Korea to create more original content, and under its new directive to grow an international presence, the company is acquiring global streaming rights for all new content.

This means that subscribers here would have access to the same content as those in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Netflix said it is currently not in talks with partners in Singapore to create content for the service.

Due to licensing restrictions, subscribers in the US, Canada and Europe now have access to different movies and TV shows. The company recently announced that it signed global rights for hit US shows including comedy series Jane The Virgin, and dramas Zoo and How To Get Away With Murder.

sherwinl@sph.com.sg