Netflix Expands To Scandinavia, Land Of Piracy
Netflix on Wednesday announced plans to launch its streaming on-demand TV and movie service in Sweden, Norway and Finland by the end of 2012. The California-based company revealed the launch in a blog post.
The move is particularly interesting given that Scandinavia -- most notably Sweden -- has been associated with online piracy for many years. In fact, Sweden happens to be home to The Pirate Bay, arguably the world’s most notorious file-sharing site. And while piracy is said to be declining in the country, nearly 1 in 5 Swedes claim to have downloaded films illegally during the second quarter of 2012, according to Swedish industry research firm MediaVision.
However, signs indicate that consumer habits may be changing. Digital music sales, for example, have rebounded following several years of declines in the region -- mostly due to the rise of Spotify in Sweden and Wimp in Norway, services that offer legal alternatives to piracy.
And while early attempts by services like Voddler and Headweb to copy the Netflix model in Scandinavia have fallen flat, analysts claim this has more to do with the lack of content offered by those services than an unwillingness on the part of the general public to abandon piracy.
"The extent to which Netflix will be able convert illegal behavior depends on the size of its content library and the subscription cost," Ingrid Salomonsson, an analyst at MediaVision, tells The Wall Street Journal. "We have seen that Spotify, which has signed distribution deals with both large and small record companies, has had an inhibitory effect on illegal downloading [in Sweden]."
Netflix’s content partners include Miramax, Paramount, Sony Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox.
The California-based streaming media giant continues its international expansion, having added 600,000 international members in the second quarter. Netflix is now available in Canada, the UK, Ireland, and Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. Its international member base is now 3.5 million members -- approximately 13 percent of the company’s total.