Netflix binge-watchers: hold on for more titles in the UAE

Published January 13th, 2016 - 10:46 GMT

Netflix subscribers in the UAE will soon see an increase in the amount of content being uploaded onto the service, as the popular Internet television network works on acquiring more global programming rights.

Ever since Netflix made its much-awaited debut in the UAE, users have been divided in their reactions. While many wasted no time in subscribing to the service and watching their favourite TV shows, others were quick to note that several of the shows available in the US were missing in the UAE offerings.

Fans of the service, like Wardah Ali, lauded the service's entry into the region, saying: "I'm going to sign up for sure! I signed up for icflix two years ago and every time I looked at their pitiful selection, my heart wept for Netflix. I'm finally happy!"

"I've been using it for almost a week now and it's been a great experience. The interface is really swift and it has the biggest library at launch compared to other streaming services in the UAE, especially since Netflix has started making its own TV shows and films now," Faisal Hashmi, a UAE-based filmmaker, said.

"Their library still has some glaring omissions, when you compare it to the US library. For example, House of Cards isn't on here even though it's their own show. But from what I understand, it's because the licensing rights for those shows, even The Walking Dead, are with other TV providers like OSN or MBC. So, they cannot put those on until those rights revert back to Netflix, which might be a year-long wait at least. Otherwise, there's enough content here that I think can put a real dent on piracy because of its low entry price and convenience of streaming it on PC and mobile devices instantly," he said.

Joris Evers, vice-president, head of communications for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Netflix, told Khaleej Times that the response to the launch of the service in the UAE had been very positive.

"People always tell us that they want more. The good news is that you are going to get more. We are spending around $5 billion on programming this year, and most of that will be spent on global programming. This means we will be bringing more and more titles to our services everywhere. We are also spending a lot on our Netflix original series, while the bulk of our revenue will be spent on bringing in new content."

"The different types of and number of titles that we are offering will be growing over time. We are listening very closely to customer feedback to see what they want and what they like. Over time, you will see an increase in the content being uploaded," he added.

Evers also explained that Netflix has been acquiring global rights to programming for over a year now, but there is still a long way to go to being a global service, where regardless of where you log into Netflix, the offering is going to be the same.

"It's ultimately where we want to go though. If you are logging in from the UAE or from South Africa, you get access to the same programming. That is what a global TV network would look like. That is the type of service people want because that is what the Internet is like. People are used to discovering and talking about things on a global nature."

"Our ambition is that we are on the path to creating a global service. It's quite disruptive to the way that movies and TV shows have traditionally been sold around the world, which is country by country, and then region by region. We have come in and said we want to acquire a title but we want global rights to it, and this is something new for people that are selling TV shows," Evers noted. "Ultimately, the programming that is being shown here will be the same as what is being shown in the US."

Asked if Netflix will have any problems with regional governments banning some TV shows available on Netflix due to the content, Evers said: "We hope not."

By Rohma Sadaqat

 


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