Netflix has expanded to a whopping 130 countries, including India, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and South Korea, CEO Reed Hastings announced Wednesday.
“We’re at the start of a global revolution,” Hastings said in a speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “You are witnessing the birth of a global TV network.”
He added that the video-streaming service has vastly increased its viewership, with members watching 12 billion houurs of content in the fourth quarter of 2015, up 45 percent from a year earlier when members watched 8.25 billion hours.
The massive worldwide launch accelerated the company’s timeline of rolling out in 200 countries by the end of this year. But it was essentially a flipping of a switch in the new markets; anything that Netflix has the global rights to stream is available, but the sites in all locations don’t necessarily have preponderance of local content that makes them most appealing to new subscribers.
Netflix is entering a crucial year in 2016. Its international aggression comes as member additions in Netflix’s core U.S. streaming business has tripped up, struggling to keep up with the growth of previous years. But China remains a major hole, and one of the trickiest places for foreign media companies to operate.
Wednesday, Netflix pulled out some star power later in its CES presentation, as comedian Chelsea Handler, “Arrested Development” actor Will Arnett, “Jessica Jones” actress Krysten Ritter and “Narcos” star Wagner Moura joined Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s top content executive, on the stage.
Sarandos gave CES attendees first looks at original series “The Crown,” a drama about the interplay between Queen Elizabeth II and British prime ministers over several decades, and “The Get Down” a Baz Luhrmann series set in 1870s New York. Both are set for release this year.
Hasting added that the company has reached nearly half of U.S. homes, and said the streaming site would roll out high-dynamic range video later this year. HDR is a picture quality form that helps create brighter, more realistic highlights and other improvements. Rival Amazon has already deployed HDR on several original series.