The number of people who can legally access Netflix just skyrocketed. Today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced that the service is now available in 130 new countries, including populous markets like Russia, India, and South Korea.
Calling the service a "a new global TV network"—a notable rhetorical departure from the company's original mission of renting and streaming movies—Hastings said the service was now live in nearly every country on Earth, the most notable exception being China. To operate there, content services like Netflix need to placate government censors, although it sounds like the company doesn't have any major qualms about that.
The massive expansion coincides with a growing investment in original content. And while companies like Hulu, YouTube, and Amazon have been investing big in exclusive, original shows and movies for years, Netflix is leading the pack in terms of success: Shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and its latest hit series, Making A Murderer, have become as talked-about as series on HBO.
Today's expansion doesn't necessarily mean that all of those shows will immediately be available in 130 countries. Licensing and distribution rights vary from country to country, so Netflix will take on a decidedly different form in various places around the world. Presumably, those Netflix originals will be easier to secure international streaming rights for than the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Either way, expect to see Netflix announce some notable gains in viewership next quarter. From the look of things, Wall Street is already anticipating good news.