Netflix will expand its streaming service to 43 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, the company announced Monday, its largest international expansion so far. On word of the news, Netflix's share price shot up to $283, hitting a 52-week high.
The move is yet another part of Netflix's plan to bring its online subscription service beyond the U.S. Last year, the Los Gatos, California-based company expanded to Canada, where it launched a streaming-only service without the option to rent DVDs by mail. But with much of the Americas likely to be under Netflix's umbrella by the end of this year, many analysts and investors have wondered: Is Europe next?
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has indicated as much. In an interview in October, Hastings told The Hollywood Reporter that, based on the success of Netflix Canada, the company might expand in "western Europe, Latin America, Asia, or Russia." And in a recent earnings call, when asked whether Netflix would enter as many as two international markets or more starting in 2012, Hastings affirmed. "If we continue to see the kind of success that we've seen in Canada, we think it will be very smart for us to move at least that fast, yes," he said.
Undoubtedly, Canada has been a huge success for Netflix—Hastings boasted of the operation during the recent earnings call, and its rapid expansion to Latin America signals just how much of a success the program has been.
The question thus isn't when the company will expand next, but where—and Europe is looking like a strong possibility, based on recent reports. Netflix has been on a hiring spree in recent months, sources told Business Insider recently, seeking high-level staffers for its European business, multilingual specialists for customer support, and people fluent in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and more. The reports also say fluency in Japanese and Korean is needed, indicating a possible expansion into Asia.
Some believe competition has held off Netflix in Europe. LoveFilm, oft dubbed the "Netflix of Europe," is considered a leading movie rental and streaming service overseas. Earlier this year, Amazon acquired LoveFilm for a reported $320 million, potentially throwing a wall up in front of Netflix.
Not that Reed Hastings would let Amazon change his mind.
"It doesn't directly affect our plan," Hastings said in December. "There's vigorous competition in all these markets, so we're full speed ahead."
[Image: Flickr user Will Merydith]