Netflix opens streaming service to Cuba, announces Japan entry

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) is continuing its international expansion with a long-expected launch into Japan that will take place in the fall of 2015. But its big surprise this week was an announcement that it is now streaming into Cuba, an entry made possible by the Obama administration's move to normalize relations with the country.

Cuba is a curious choice for Netflix. Less than 5 percent of Cuba's population can access the Internet, a Quartz story noted. And the cost of a Netflix subscription, at US $8, will likely be prohibitive for most. (Although a few are surfing faster and more affordably through the underground Snet.) So why make the move? It's likely because, with Cuban officials promising they'll improve Internet access, Netflix can boast that it was the first streaming service in the island nation.

Netflix could not say exactly what content will be available to Cubans, telling FierceOnlineVideo that content shown depends on licensing rights per territory. But it's clear that the SVOD provider wants to make some of Cuba's content available to subscribers in other countries.

"Cuba has great filmmakers and a robust arts culture and one day we hope to be able to bring their work to our global audience of over 57 million members," Reed Hastings, Netflix's CEO, said in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, Netflix plans to open a regional office in Tokyo to support its streaming launch there. Streaming chief Gregory Peters has been promoted to general manager of Netflix Japan, where he'll help develop "close partnerships with consumer electronics makers and to work with Japanese film and TV creators" as the provider puts together a lineup of Japanese series and movies.

Netflix intends to complete its global rollout by 2016. It's currently streaming in 50 countries and has about 57 million subscribers worldwide.

For more:
- Reuters has this story
- see this release
- Quartz has this story

Related articles:
Cuba's Etecsa plans to open more Internet centers
YouTube video player defaults to HTML 5; China bars Agent Carter from online video sites
Analyst cuts Netflix estimates in half, says keeping up with HBO won't be cheap
Streaming video revenue's $3.2B jump a rallying cry for OTT providers in broadband speed battle

Suggested Articles

When PlayStation Vue goes dark on Jan. 30, 2020, it will leave PlayStation owners without an option for streaming live TV on their game consoles.

AT&T is including the 2019-2020 season of NBA League Pass Premium for customers who switch from their TV provider to AT&T TV.

Tubi, a free, ad-supported video on demand service, is now available to stream on Amazon Echo Show devices.