Soon, The World Will Speak Via Netflix

Netflix wants to be known as a global content provider, and in its earnings last week, it acted that way.

David Wells, the CFO, noted that “Narcos,” one of Netflix’s current series, is an especially strong performer in the U.S., which is doubly good news because much of it is in Spanish, and it’s playing  in South America, too. (Though some apparently think the Colombian accent is a little messed up.)

Given the dominance of English, Neflix can do pretty well with “elites” who both speak the language and have the money, whatever it is called, to spend. But it is trying to add more films and TV shows that are homegrown.

Repeatedly, CEO Reed Hastings emphasized that in its drive toward world dominance, Netflix does best in those places where things have been translated, and not so well in places where they haven’t, which makes sense. The objective is to bulk up on foreign languages where our foreign is their domestic.



For some Third World countries and a lot of other places where the smartphone is the only Internet device people have, Netflix is trying to improve its delivery to them. And speak their language.

A story in today’s New York Times reports that at the Sundance Film Festival, it’s been Amazon and Netflix that have been making headlines with deals on promising films. The Times reports Netflix has just made a deal for a horror film “Under the Shadow,” which is distinguished by the fact that it’s an Iranian film. Here’s the official Sundance synopsis, according to a Web site called, unabashedly,

“Tehran, 1988: As the Iran-Iraq War rumbles into its eighth year, a mother and daughter are slowly torn apart by the bombing campaigns on the city coupled with the country’s bloody revolution. As they struggle to stay together amidst these terrors, a mysterious evil stalks through their apartment.

Mom believes that “an unexploded missile has carried evil spirits into her home and possessed her daughter,” says BloodyDisgusting.

It’s a small world, after all, when religious conflicts, horror films and streaming video can all combine for fun and profit. And the whole world can be watching. Seriously, Netflix is now available in Iran and Iraq — and almost everywhere else in the world except China. 

And it is discovering that to the extent it can, it will show many of the same films around the world. Netflix has been translated in Arabic, for example, and remarkably, foreign language films, which still have trouble getting seen in movie theaters, are suddenly a salable streaming commodity   

It’s also true that Netflix is a little bit pokey in the U.S.  

It added only 1.56 million subscribers in the fourth quarter, down from 1.9 million from the same quarter the year before. Without much fanfare--not like you’d expect fanfare--it also announced that grandfathered longtime Netflix U.S. customers who pay slightly less for HD service, will be getting a $1 per month increase sometime later this year. That will help the bottom line.

The real dollars, though--whatever they’re called--may be coming from everywhere else.

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