In January, Netflix announced a lofty goal: to bring its services to 130 countries around the world. “Today you are witnessing the birth of a new global internet TV network,” C.E.O. Reed Hastingssaid at the time. Still, there’s one part of the world where Hastings hasn’t brought his $44 billion company. In a conversation with The New Yorker editor David Remnick on Friday at a tech conference hosted by the magazine in New York City, Hastings said his company has yet to work with China, and based on Chinese regulators’ attitudes toward working with iTunes and Disney’s movie offerings, he doesn’t expect a relationship to develop.
“We’re figuring our way out (in China), but we’re really focused on the rest of the world. There is so much opportunity for us in India, Poland, Turkey and Latin America and Vietnam.” Netflix’s growth has slowed slightly—the streaming company added just 1.68 million new subscribers in the last fiscal quarter, according its most recent earnings report, as opposed to the 2.5 million it was expected to add, with 1.52 million new subscribers abroad and 160,000 domestically.
If Netflix fails to take off in China, it won’t be the first company to do so. Companies like Google have tried and failed to push into the country, which is notoriously hostile toward foreign competitors. Facebook is famously banned in the country, despite Mark Zuckerberg’s overtures to the Chinese government. Apple’s recent $1 billion investment in Uber competitor Didi Chuxing was seen by some as a way to curry favor with local regulators to help the tech company expand in the country. Apple in particular has faced an uphill battle in China—billionaire investorCarl Icahn off-loaded his Apple shares amid concerns over the tech giant’s relationship with regulators in China. But China represents a huge untapped market, representing a sizable percentage of the world’s broadband households.