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Netflix to launch in Singapore in early 2016. Does it stand a chance? (Geektime (Israel))

by September 9, 2015 General

It’s the news everybody has been waiting for. Channel NewsAsia reports that popular U.S. video streaming site Netflix will launch in Singapore in early 2016. This will allow people in the country to sign up to watch a localized version of the service. Besides streaming top movies and television shows, it also produces its own drama serials like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Sense8.

Netflix will open an office in Singapore in the coming months to serve as the regional hub. It launched in Japan recently, and will launch in Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan in early 2016. But will Netflix’s debut in Singapore have any real impact on itself or consumers? It seems unlikely. Singapore is a tiny market, and it’s more useful to the startup as a regional base. Also, plenty of Netflix users are already accessing the service using a VPN or internet provider MyRepublic’s Teleport feature.

Besides, it’s unclear how comprehensive the lineup for Singapore’s Netflix will be, and if it’s not as comprehensive as the U.S. version, that might deter sign-ups. There are also plenty of Netflix alternatives, from not so legal Popcorn Time and BitTorrent to the legal but expensive SingTel TV and Starhub’s cable TV service.

If anything, Netflix might put pressure on local telcos SingTel and Starhub, although these two have unique offerings that will keep the streaming service at bay. People sign up with SingTel because of its live football coverage, while Starhub has just signed a deal to distribute HBO Go, giving local Game of Thrones fans a go-to destination. Netflix also puts pressure on the multitude of new online streaming services in the region, from SingTel’s very own Hooq to a startup called iFlix.

These companies will face an uphill climb against Netflix due to a lack of brand awareness. Also, given Netflix’s scale, they may be able to procure local content quickly, and this is supposed to be Hooq’s and iFlix’s selling point. In any case, Netflix’s entry into Asia could be seen from a mile away, so there should’ve been plenty of time for these startups to prepare. Now the real battle begins.

This post was originally published on Tech in Asia.

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