Netflix to expand to Latin America and Caribbean

US video giant Netflix, which has more than 23 million subscribers in the United States and Canada, has announced plans to expand to Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Los Gatos, California-based company said it would begin streaming television shows and movies over the Internet to 43 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean later this year.

The announcement sent Netflix shares to a record high on Wall Street. Netflix shares gained 8.07 percent to close at US$289.63 after hitting an all-time high of US$291.23 during the day’s trading.

The gains made by Netflix reflect the growth which they’ve already experienced this year. In the first quarter of 2011, the company reported that its net profits had doubled. In the same period it added some 3.6 million new subscribers to its database.

Netflix did not say how much it plans to charge for the Latin American and Caribbean service. In the United States and Canada, Netflix charges $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming of movies and television shows.

The company said members in Latin America will be able to access the service in Spanish, Portuguese or English according to their preference.

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings, speaking at the All Things Digital technology conference last month, said he was looking to grow the company internationally.

“We’re national and trying to be a global Internet company,” Hastings said. “Across the globe, there’s about five billion people with mobile phones and essentially all of those five billion like video.”

The expansion of service comes in a year in which both YouTube and Amazon have announced their own video streaming on demand services, designed to compete with Netflix.

Amazon’s unlimited streaming service was the first of the two to be launched in February. The launch followed the web retailing giant’s purchase of British -based movie and games rental service LoveFilm.

YouTube’s service, launched in May included a broadening of their already existing film rental service with films from a number of the bigger Hollywood studios, including Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures and Universal.

Unlike the services offered by Netflix and Amazon, however, YouTube asserted that it would not just be focussing on the delivery of professionally produced content. Instead, the video service said it would be increasing support for the amateur content producers who make up an extensive portion of the videos uploaded to the site. — AFP with additional staff reporting.



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