Netflix is officially coming to South Africa!

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A recent survey showed that when comparing price to content, Netflix stands red-head and shoulders above all other digital streaming services being offered locally. There’s just a slight problem with that “offered locally” part though. Up until now, the only way to access Netflix locally was via some VPN/DNS-spoofing service like Unotelly, which routes your Netflix through their DNS servers so that your actual geographical location is seen as something different. It’s not piracy, as you still pay your full subscription fee to Netflix for their services, it’s just that they think you’re watching your latest season House of Cards from Beverly Hills, when you’re actually in Benoni (they have internet in Benoni now, right?).

It’s a legal grey area which has put off some people from making use of the service, despite it offering far better content for a more competitive price. But that greyness will (hopefully) soon be a thing of the past, as it’s now been confirmed that Netflix will officially be launching in South Africa in the near future.

The news (via MyBB and Wall Street Journal) came from a letter Netflix sent its shareholders informing them about their current market growth. Although growth in the US market has slowed (last year saw 1.9 million new US subscribers, down from 2.3 million in 2013), their international growth has exceeded expectations, with 4.3 million new subscribers joining globally, beating the forecasted 4 million new subscribers. This growth has spurred Netflix to aggressively pursue their international expansion plans much sooner than expected, as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells explained.

“The ability to click and watch and binge episodes has really resonated with people. It has made us realize this is very likely to work on a global basis.”

“Progress has been so strong that we now believe we can complete our global expansion over the next two years, while staying profitable, which is earlier than we expected.”

Those two years will see the streaming-video service’s official global availability being bumped up considerably from the current 50 countries to 200 countries worldwide by the end of 2017. And although we don’t have a definite date as to exactly when we’ll the service officially coming to our shores, South Africa is definitely one of those global countries.

“We have not provided details of when we plan to go where, but you can be confident South Africa is among the countries we intend to serve sometime in the next two years.”

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As somebody who makes use of Unotelly to use Netflix on an almost daily basis, I think this is fantastic news. The question still arises though as to what content will be offered – our media licensing and content classification processes are notoriously crap, as anybody early adopters of Xbox Live in South Africa found out a few years back – and also at what price.

Currently a monthly Netflix subscription, bundled with the Unotelly subscription, will set you back about R200 depending on the R/$ exchange rate as well as which length subscription you take (the longer the cheaper, so you could even pay as low as R150). That’s very competitive in comparison to other local offerings such as Node and Vidi – even more so when you factor in that those other services still require you to pay an additional fee of about R25 to rent each movie that you want to watch. If the official Netflix is offered in South Africa at a similar price point or less, it would make an absolute killing.

How much would you be willing to pay for an official Netflix service and what content would you like to see?

Last Updated: January 23, 2015

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