This week U.S. streaming service Netflix surprised everyone by launching in almost every country with the notable exception of China.
Viewers in 190 new countries can now now enjoy the subscription streaming services. Last September the company announced that China’s regional neighbors Singapore, Hong Kong Taiwan and South Korea would launch in early 2016 following Japan, sparking discussions over the potential of a China entry.
The mainland market continues to elude Netflix due to tight restrictions on foreign content. Currently government censorship regulations stipulate that no show can be aired until the entire season is public. Shows must meet censor approval and can be knocked back for anything deemed overly violent, sexual or offensive to the Communist Party.
Netflix may not have launched their subscription streaming service in China this week, but the company is well and truly working in the Chinese market.
“We continue to explore our options in China and are hopeful we will be available there soon,” a Netflix press representative told Technode. “We are always keen to find partnerships and to maintain good relationships with authorities.”
The same representative told Technode that Netflix has been granted approval to hold the world premiere for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny in Beijing in February.
This week at CES 2016 CEO Reed Hastings told press that the company is seeking inroads to the country and communicating with the local government on possible entry points. In an interview with the BBC on Tuesday Mr. Hastings said Netflix would follow the lead of Apple and Disney, who have both expanded successfully into the Chinese market.
While the mass adoption of the iPhone in China is an attractive archetype for expansion, Netflix’s entry would likely be more similar to Disney’s. As a content provider Disney has made a slew of high-level partnerships to aid their entry, including a recent collaboration with internet giant Alibaba to launch a Mickey Mouse-shaped streaming device.
Netflix has remained tight-lipped on potential partners. The company was reportedly in talks with Alibaba in the past, but the Chinese giant has since launched their own subscription streaming service TBO, short for ‘Tmall Box Office’. The service costs 39 RMB per month ($6.08 USD) or 365 RMB per year ($57 USD). Netflix has also collaborated with Sohu in the past, selling them the rights for the highly-popular House of Cards series.
However Netflix finds their way to Chinese consumers, it’s clear their entry won’t mimic any of the other 130 new countries announced in this week’s announcement.