CES 2016: Netflix Goes (Almost) Global

Get complete coverage of CES 2016.

Las Vegas – Netflix video streaming now spans the globe…well almost.

In his CES keynote presentation today, CEO Reed Hastings announced that the OTT service has flipped the switch in 130 more countries, including Vietnam, India, Poland Russia and Saudi Arabia, establishing an almost-global footprint. (Follow our continuing CES coverage at our CES news site.)

“Today you are witnessing the birth of a new global Internet TV network,” said Hastings. “With this launch, consumers around the world -- from Singapore to St. Petersburg, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo -- will be able to enjoy TV shows and movies simultaneously -- no more waiting.”

Well, some consumers will need to wait just a bit longer. One big one still off that list is China. But the hope, Hastings said, is to offer service there “in the future.” 

The expansion will surely give Netflix’s sub base and reach of originals a massive boost. Netflix, which was available in 60 countries, heading into CES, ended the third quarter of 2015 with 69.17 million subs worldwide, including 43.18 million in the U.S.

Hastings spent the early part of the keynote offering a history lesson on the innovations that have driven TV over the years, recalling it was eight years ago that Netflix started streaming.  “Tune-in has been replaced by personal choice,” he said. “We live in an on-demand world, and there’s no going back.”

He also threw in some stats: in Q4 2015, consumers watched 12 billion hours of Netflix, versus 8.25 billion in the year-earlier period. 

Hastings also announced that Netflix, a pioneer in 4K streaming, plans to offer some more eye candy later this year with the roll out of some content encoded in High Dynamic Range (HDR), a technology that brings more pop to those pixels.

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said Netflix will product over 600 hours of original programming this year.

Among the new crop is The Crown, which will tell the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s life (played by Claire Foy) and the British royal family.  Here’s the trailer that was first shown to CES attendees:

Sarandos also took a jab at linear TV, holding that it “only scores with home runs,” while Netflix’s on-demand and binge-focused approach allows the OTT provider to “score with singles, and doubles and triples.”

And what’s a CES keynote without some star power?

Chelsea Handler, who has series, Chelsea Does, and a talk show coming to Netflix,  joined the stage to run a brief panel discussion with other Netflix talent, including Will Arnett (BoJack Horseman), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), and Wagner Moura (Narcos).