Sat, Jan 26, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Chunghwa Telecom, Netflix unveil tie-up

LOCAL CONTENT:Netflix’s Bill Holmes said that Taiwan has amazing talent and his firm is excited over opportunities for its own productions as well as co-productions

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Chunghwa Telecom chairman David Cheng, left, and Netflix Inc chief business officer Bill Holmes hold collaboration agreements at a signing ceremony in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Wang Yi-hung, Taipei Times

Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) yesterday said it is to join forces with California-based Netflix Inc to coproduce original series in Taiwan after securing an exclusive contract with the US video streaming giant to offer 4K content on its multimedia on demand (MOD) platform.

After more than two years of negotiations, Chunghwa Telecom announced that the strategic partnership with Netflix would allow it to add more than 1,700 hours of Netflix’s catalogue to its MOD platform.

Netflix Bundle Packages would be available before the Lunar New Year holiday next month, the companies said in a statement.

The service comes with a dedicated set-top box and remote control, which uses chips made by MediaTek Inc (聯發科) and its subsidiary MStar Semiconductor Inc (晨星半導體).

Chunghwa Telecom said it deployed a team of more than 100 engineers to develop the set-top box.

Netflix chief business officer Bill Holmes said he has visited Taiwan many times with much of the time spent visiting chip suppliers MediaTek and MStar.

“After growing the number of MOD users to more than 2 million, our next task is to enrich our content offerings and to improve the system’s operations,” Chunghwa Telecom chairman David Cheng (鄭優) told a media briefing. “I believe the partnership with Netflix will help draw in more customers.”

Chunghwa Telecom is taking a more proactive attitude toward investing in content production, which is something the company would never have thought of before, Cheng said.

Chunghwa Telecom, the nation’s biggest telecom, was previously forbidden to operate channels and to offer content bundling. Now it has a greater say in content offerings and production after the company on Wednesday won approval from the National Communications Commission to bundle movies or TV shows produced outside the company.

“We will approach [potential partners]. We will also discuss this with Netflix. We hope to reach a consensus with” Netflix, Cheng said, adding that the company did not have anything else substantial to disclose.

Chunghwa Telecom said it aims to provide local stories to Netflix viewers worldwide.

“In Taiwan, we know there is some amazing content talent here. We are very excited to explore what opportunities exist both for original Netflix productions as well as potential coproductions, not just for domestic citizens in Taiwan, but to bring those stories to the citizens of the world,” Holmes said.

Netflix said it has 163 million subscribers, with 60 percent of them outside the US, mostly in Asia.

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