Netflix Has Landed in the MENA and Everywhere!

Alexis Baghdadi, Jan 07 2016

Netflix co-founder and Chief Executive, Reed Hastings, giving keynote speech at CES 2016. Photo via Netflix

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It’s official, Netflix is everywhere!

The internet television network now simultaneously brings its SVOD digital offering to virtually the entire world (excepting China, North Korea, Syria, and Crimea, due to restrictions on US companies).

Reed Hastings, co-founder and Chief Executive at Netflix, made the announcement yesterday at the CES 2016 tradeshow in Las Vegas, Nevada, launching the service live in over 130 new countries.

Netflix currently has over 70 million subscribers worldwide, and is expected to surpass the 100 million mark in 2018, according to a recent report released by IHS Technology.

If you are still resisting the temptation to buy in, you can try Netflix for free for 1 month by signing up for the service now.

MENA Ripe for SVOD

In addition to being largely available in English in the MENA and in most new countries, Netflix also added Arabic, Korean, and both simplified and traditional Chinese to the 17 languages it already supports.

“From today onwards, we will listen and we will learn, gradually adding more languages, more content and more ways for people to engage with Netflix,” said Hastings at the tradeshow today.

Previously, Netflix could be viewed in some parts of the MENA, including the UAE, but only with a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Netflix is not the first to venture in the MENA. The presence of other channels such as IcFlix, Telly, and OSN Play indicate that the market is ripe and ready. The two top subscription services in the region are Starz Play and IcFlix.

In April 2014, Starz had already launched the Starz Play Arabia Over-the-Top (OTT) subscription service across 17 countries in the region, marking the first Starz-branded service outside the US.

Icflix offers Hollywood, Bollywood, and also Arabic content, including original Egyptian productions. Launched in 2013, it is available in Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait, the UAE, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia, and now has 250,000 customers in the region.

Yes, But What About Censorship?

The online community has been raising questions about the “unlimited” availability of Netflix content in the MENA region, raising concerns about the censorship that might affect some shows.

Details are not yet available, but in the likely scenario where the channel will have obey censorship rules in countries where it is streaming, viewers will probably be treated to a “Halal” version of shows aimed at mature audiences.

However, there are definitely “legitimate” ways of going around this, such as using a VPN or DNS unblocker, for example.

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