Netflix appears to be living up to its ambitious aim of launching in every significant global market by the end of 2016, announcing its next round of expansion just days after its Japanese launch, the company’s first in Asia.
Netflix has said customers in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan will be able to subscribe to the streaming service from early 2016, although no details about the content available or subscription pricing have been released. Netflix has managed to side-step some of the challenges it will face in other parts of Asia, by choosing to launch in developed economies with established broadband and 4G networks in place but attracting subscribers is unlikely to be plain sailing.
In South Korea, Netflix is reported to be in talks with carriers to reduce the price of content delivery, and across the region the company will need to comply with tight content regulation, while still providing viewers with the content they want. Like Uber, another industry-disrupter undergoing rapid global expansion, Netflix may find it has lost first-mover advantage. Home grown content providers such as iFlix and Hooq, which counts Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers among its backers, have sprung up in Netflix’s absence, basing their offering on the subscription-based model Netflix pioneered.
It is likely that Netflix’s biggest trials still lie ahead, however. The company has been forthright about its global ambitions, and its rapid roll-out plans. This will include launching in China, a country described as “too big to have an asterisk next to it” by Chief Content Officer Ted Sandaros and India, where broadband speeds are two times lower than the global average. A successful launch in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan may make the kind of investment needed to succeed in these markets more palatable, but whether Netflix has bitten off more than it can chew remains to be seen.