CES '16: Netflix Launches in Over 130 Countries During Keynote
How's this for a CES bombshell: After Reed Hastings celebrated the past and future of Netflix in his opening remarks, after Ted Sarandos previewed two high-profile releases coming later this year, after several Netflix stars took the stage to celebrate the company's creator freedom, Hastings then returned to the stage to announce that during the Keynote Netflix began service in over 130 countries. It's now available everywhere but China, he said.
Netflix had long said that it planned to be available in every country by the end of 2016. That sounded like a lot of bluster to many industry observers. No one expected the company to accomplish it in January.
The keynote began with a bit of history, as Hastings (Netflix's co-founder and CEO) looked back at television's milestones, and trumpeted the current-day advances that have given consumers the choice to watch what they want when they want it and eliminated commercials for subscribers.
"Entertainment and technology are continuing to transform each other as they have for over 100 years," Hastings said.
Eight years ago at CES, Netflix announced its first integration into a consumer device—a Blu-ray Player—and two years ago at CES it announced 4K programming. Now it's in 70 million homes around the globe. "Tune-in has been replaced by personal choice," Hastings said, and there's no going back.
Netflix head of content acquisition Ted Sarandos then took the stage to talk about programming, saying that the company would create over 600 hours of original content this year. He gave CES attendees a first look at two high-profile series. The Crown is a look at the early days of Queen Elizabeth's reign, and it looks like it's going to be just as captivating and must-see at House of Cards. The Get Down is a completely new avenue for director Baz Luhrmann, looking at the birth of disco, hip-hop, and punk in urban New York City.
"We are not anti-theater, we're just pro movies," Sarandos said, explaining that giving people what they want removes a key reason for online movie piracy.
Sarandos then welcomed several of Netflix's biggest stars on stage to talk about their projects: Chelsea Handler, who has a daily show coming to Netflix; Will Arnett of Bojack Horseman and Arrested Development; Krysten Ritter of Jessica Jones; and Wagner Moura of Narcos.
"We're happy to have jobs," Handler joked.
While that would have been enough to satisfy the capacity crowd, Hastings then returned to the stage to announce that Netflix was finally taking over the world.
"Today, I am delighted to announce that while we have been her on stage at CES, we switched Netflix on in..." and he began to list country after country, finally concluding that Netflix is now available in over 130 new countries including Russia, India, and Azerbaijan. It's everywhere but China, he said, and he hopes to take it there soon. "While you have been listening to me talk, the Netflix service has gone live in almost every country in the world." Netflix has also increased the number of languages it supports to 21, up from 17, adding Arabic, Korean, Simplified, and Traditional Chinese. The hashtag #netflixeverywhere showed on the screen behind him.
"We are lucky to be part of this epic moment," Hastings said.
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