Netflix prepares for global expansion [Update: it’s coming to South Africa]

The joys associated with streaming Arrested Development or House of Cards at the same time as the rest of the world, will soon be within your reach.

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Netflix, the internet video streaming service, reported earnings yesterday announcing strong growth in an increasingly competitive environment. In his letter to shareholders, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said it is “increasingly clear that virtually all entertainment video will be Internet video in the future”.

That is a statement Hastings will probably be quoted on for many years to come, as there’s a global uptake in the number of companies trying to emulate the Netflix success story. In South Africa we’ve already seen the Times Media Group invest heavily in its video on-demand service Vidi, as has Altech’s Node. Although it’s still unclear how fast South Africans have been to adopt this new form of television consumption, competition in this space is only set to increase as Netflix is getting ready for global domination.

Read more: Netflix seems to be clamping down on overseas VPN users

Reflecting on Netflix’s growth over the last few years, the company notes “[p]rogress has been so strong that we now believe we can complete our global expansion over the next two years.”

What this means is that, if all goes according to plan, Netflix will be available globally (including China) by 2017. While it might seem like an ambitious goal, Netflix has already been able to rapidly expand outside the borders of its United States base over the last 12 months. In 2014 the video service spread to 50 countries and will soon go live in Australia and New Zealand.

Despite all the good news, Netflix believes piracy is its biggest competitor. Citing this Google Trends graph, Hastings says the uptake in new services like Popcorn Time is “sobering” to such a successful business.

Update: According to MyBroadband, a Netflix spokesperson said that South Africa is in fact among the countries the streaming service plans to expand to. “We have not provided details of when we plan to go where, but you can be confident South Africa is among the countries we intend to serve sometime in the next two years,” the company reportedly said.

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