Netflix launched its video-streaming service in Taiwan yesterday, as the company went live in more than 130 nations as part of a huge global push by Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings to counter slowing growth in the US.
The only major country not included in the rollout was China.
People in Taiwan who sign up for the service are being offered one-month free access to all the content available on the platform.
The company is offering three different packages to subscribers in Taiwan, with prices ranging from NT$270 to NT$390 per month, depending on whether the content is going to be aired in high-definition or ultra-high-definition and whether consumers want to access Netflix on multiple devices simultaneously.
The Los Gatos, California-based company owns the exclusive right to air several popular US television series, including House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Narcos, as well as streaming movies and other programs.
However, House of Cards will not available to subscribers in Taiwan as the Public Television Service (PTS) currently has the broadcast rights to the show. Subscribers can watch the series after Netflix’s contract with PTS expires, the company said.
Netflix has added Chinese, in both traditional and simplified characters, Korean and Arabic to the list of languages that its streaming service supports.
Netflix’s subscription offers are lower than cable TV services, which cost NT$500 to NT$600 per month, Cable Broadband Institute in Taiwan chief executive Claudia Peng (彭淑芬) said that Netflix offers mainly US television series and movies, whereas cable service providers offer more local content.
However, over-the-top (OTT) content providers such as Netflix are likely to change Taiwan’s market, Peng said, adding that the free trial is likely to attract some consumers.
“The government should apply the same standards to regulate media services,” Peng said. “The National Communications Commission should strive to create an environment in which all players can compete equally, so that local service providers have a way to survive.”
The commission has indicated on several occasions that it is yet to determine how to regulate OTT service providers.
A change in the viewing habits of consumers in Taiwan would be key in determining if Netflix would flourish in the nation, because people are used to watching OTT content for free, such as on Youtube, said Andy Hsieh (謝煥乾), director of the commission’s broadcasting and content management department.
Whether the new service would prompt people to “cut the cord” remains to be seen, he said.
Hastings on Wednesday spoke about the expansion program at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
“We’re moving as quickly as we can to have global availability of all the content on Netflix,” Hastings said at a news conference.
The company is still exploring options to extend its services to China, he said.
“With China, you really want to build relationships first, before you get to the practical parts of building a business, and so we are doing that now and getting to know people, both in government and in partner companies,” he said.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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