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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at CES.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at CES.

LAS VEGAS— Reed Hastings waited until the last minutes of his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show to make some news, and the Netflix CEO did not disappoint. Hastings announced that Netflix just launched service in 130 countries, including India, Vietnam, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Indonesia.

That adds to the 60 countries where Netflix already operated.

Reed Hastings“When I travel the world outside of these 60 countries, the number one question I get is: When is Netflix going to be available here? Because of the global reach of the Internet, people have heard of our shows. They want to see Narcos and Jessica Jones and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Today, I am delighted to announce that while we have been here on stage at CES, we switched Netflix on in Azerbaijan, in Vietnam, in India, in Nigeria, in Poland, in Russia, in Saudi Arabia, in Singapore, in South Korea, in Turkey, in Indonesia and in 130 new countries.”

The crowd erupted in applause after Hastings remarks. Investors sent shares of the streaming video pioneer up more than five percent, giving the company a market value of $47 billion.

“While you have been listening to me talk, the Netflix service has gone live in nearly every country of the world, but China, where we also hope to be in the future. Today. Right now. You are witnessing the birth of a global TV network. And I do mean the birth. Today, we are offering consumers around the world our incredible global catalogue of original content.”

He then concluded: “Whether you are in Sydney or St. Petersburg, Singapore or Seoul, Santiago or … you can now be part of the Internet TV revolution. No more waiting. No more watching on a schedule that is not your own. No more frustration. Just Netflix … wherever you are in the world. Today, you have witnessed an incredible event.”

Reed Hastings at CES
Reed Hastings at CES

In addition, Netflix has added Korean, Arabic and Chinese languages.

Hastings said that Netflix’s goal is to “provide a simple and affordable way to enjoy a great story” — a task that represents a big task on a global scale given content rights and e-commerce payment systems.

“If given the opportunity, they are willing to pay a fair price, rather than resort to piracy,” he said.

The move comes as Netflix faces new competition from Amazon Prime Video and other streaming video services, though Amazon’s global footprint is far smaller.

But Netflix continues to add members, and the latest effort should accelerate adoption.

According to Hastings, Netflix customers streamed more than 12 billion hours of video in the fourth quarter. It also now has 70 million members.

Here’s the full press release of today’s news:

Netflix launched its service globally, simultaneously bringing its Internet TV network to more than 130 new countries around the world. The company made the announcement — and the service went live — during a keynote by Co-founder and Chief Executive Reed Hastings at CES 2016.

“Today you are witnessing the birth of a new global Internet TV network,” said Hastings. “With this launch, consumers around the world — from Singapore to St. Petersburg, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo — will be able to enjoy TV shows and movies simultaneously — no more waiting. With the help of the Internet, we are putting power in consumers’ hands to watch whenever, wherever and on whatever device.”

For one monthly price, members around the world will be able to enjoy Netflix original series including Marvel’s Daredevil and Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Narcos, Sense8, Grace and Frankie, and Marco Polo, as well as a catalog of licensed TV shows and movies. In 2016, the company plans to release 31 new and returning original series, two dozen original feature films and documentaries, a wide range of stand-up comedy specials and 30 original kids series — available at the same time to members everywhere.

While largely available in English in most new countries, Netflix today added Arabic, Korean, 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. “We’re looking forward to bringing great stories from all over the world to people all over the world.”

Netflix will not yet be available in China, though the company continues to explore options for providing the service. It also won’t be available in Crimea, North Korea and Syria due to U.S. government restrictions on American companies.

Since Netflix launched its streaming service in 2007, the service has expanded globally, first to Canada, then to Latin America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan to include 60 countries.

Netflix is available on virtually any device that has an Internet connection, including personal computers, tablets, smartphones, Smart TVs and game consoles, and automatically provides the best possible streaming quality based on available bandwidth. Many titles, including Netflix original series and films, are available in high-definition with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound and some in Ultra HD 4K. Advanced recommendation technologies with up to five user profiles help members discover entertainment they’ll love.

 

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