Netflix Targeting European Audiences?

Will Netflix come to Europe in 2011?

Recently, a contact from our Facebook community pointed out that Netflix is obviously preparing to expand their activities to European markets while referring to related news headlines and job openings at Netflix. Interesting enough, I thought, for writing a short blogpost on the topic. For those not too familiar with Netflix: as of today, it happens to be the world’s leading Internet subscription service for TV shows and movies with about 23 million members in the U.S. and Canada (also see Netflix company profile at Crunchbase).

And indeed, there have been quite some headlines in the past regarding Netflix and it’s planned outreach to European audiences. Actually, the company already has a kind of trackrecord in communicating this “vision”, because already in early 2010 Netflix CEO Reed Hastings hinted at the company`s future when announcing:

“The big market for Hollywood content (after the U.S.) is Europe. Third is Asia. Fourth is the rest of the world. Canada is and was an option. It’s sort of international-lite” (source: Reuters).

Well, today we know the launch of the service in Canada in late 2010 was sufficiently successful and therefore it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Netflix now geared up to launch it’s European endeavor. On the company’s website, for example, you can find vacant positions for a Bi-Lingual Training Supervisor or a Senior Online Marketing Manager (International), at the time this article is being written. The linguistic skills associated with these positions are described as follows:

“We are looking for people fluent in the following languages:  Dutch, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian and European), and Spanish (Latin American and European)” (source: Netflix)

Founder and CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, cla...

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Image via Wikipedia

These requirements obviously go beyond Europe and therefore raise the question of how much longer Netflix will actually wait before also entering the Asian markets. Apart from logistic challenges and potential dubbing issues for their titles in an international context, the popularity of Netflix in the established markets suggests that the subscription based business models work well enough to anticipate an adoption by consumers even beyond the current territories. Even more so, as Hastings himself proclaimed that DVD rental and delivery is great, but “streaming only” is an even greater business. The major European competititor LOVEFiLM (company profile) had recently been acquired by Amazon EU SARL (January 2010) and currently counts about 1.6 million subscribers while operating in the UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. As of today, LOVEFiLM also has existing partnerships with relevant film studios including MGM, Momentum and Warner Bros but it remains to be seen if and how Netflix and LOVEFiLM will compete in the European marketspace once their services will be widely available. Ultimately, the pressure to create more attractive subscription models will increase for any such company in the market and this may, then again, be to the benefit of the consumers.


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