Netflix’s long way to China’s great firewall.

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Netflix announced its global plan (well, almost global) yesterday at the International CES (the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas) by introducing its service to 130 new countries, aiming at large audiences like India and Russia, discussing local content production plans and creating an impressive international TV network launch.
However, China is still the wild card of Netflix’s strategic goals, as it corresponds almost to a quarter of the world’s broadband households, but at the same time, its strong regulatory obstacles, licensing and quota restrictions cannot be easily surpassed.

Ted Sarandos, Head of Content Acquisition for Netflix, has often expressed his satisfaction about the popularity that House of Cards (Netflix original) has particularly gained in China over the last few years. Apparently, this particular target audience, although smaller in numbers at the moment, is extremely valuable. Nevertheless, the current tools and ways enabled by Chinese users for Netflix watching are not really in the agenda. Nor they will be anytime in the near future, for that matter.

Patience, on the other hand, seems to be Netflix’s strategic choice as Reed Hastings, chief executive of Netflix, mentioned during an interview for the NY Times yesterday. It is worth reminding that Netflix had recently announced its plan to break into China market without any local partner support. Netflix would need eight different licences to launch in China, Sarandos said back then. It seems that patience will not only be the firm’s mantra for the next few years, but also their personal stake, in my opinion.

Indeed, when aiming long term, patience not only becomes crucial but also can be transformed to a powerful weapon. Maybe this explains why in addition to yesterday’s new markets’ launch, Netflix added Simplified and Traditional Chinese (as well as Arabic and Korean) to its supporting language list. The next season of this literal ‘Netflix original’ might be exciting.

(Image: @Trixxy – Thomas Ricker:

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