Netflix has had a very respectable growth the past few years. They could’ve stayed dormant and just be known as that “cool streaming service” like many companies may do, but they instead opted to put forth the effort to remain relevant. Sure, there’s been some price hikes, but users have been rewarded with more movies, shows, and even some shows that Netflix has produced or funded.
But even with all these achievements, some people still can’t stand the sight of Netflix, the main one being China. That’s right, the Chinese government doesn’t like Netflix. They refuse to even allow it inside the country!
Of course, many people don’t feel the same and can’t help but be attracted to the allure that Netflix radiates, so many Chinese users just download a VPN for Netflix and that’s the end of the story, but that’s a band-aid solution. Why is the Chinese government so hesitant in allowing Netflix in the country? Why’s it so important?
A Censored History
Netflix shouldn’t take it personally, because she’s not the first, nor the last, to suffer from China’s censored heel.
The government of China loves banning things that they deem either a threat, whether it’s economic or political, but this time it’s a bit of both.
You see, China has strict policies when it comes to imports into their country, and online media isn’t safe from these rules. One rule specific to online content is that service must not be more than 30% foreign. In other words, Netflix would have to get rid of around 90% of their content for China, and that deal just isn’t worth it. Netflix wouldn’t gain anything.
Also, it’s a safe assumption to make that these rules are there just for censorship purposes. I mean, China is no stranger to censorship, whether it’s VPNs or a whole search engine.
Netflix’s CEO also implied that China wanted the service to be launched and maintained in a very specific way, i.e. according to censorship regulations. Netflix simply doesn’t want run business like that, which is surprising, since other American companies like Apple are willing to break a few eggs to make an omelet.
Now, you might be asking yourself, “What grand scheme does Netflix have for China?” The answer is…nothing. Netflix wanted to break into the Chinese market, attempted for a few years, and then gave up in 2016.
You can’t really blame them. After all, perseverance is key until you’ve tried so much that you broke the lock. Netflix has moved on, for now at least.
Although, Netflix has thrown a bone to China in the past. For example, Chinese users can watch some Netflix original content through the site iQiyi, a streaming service based in China. Other than that though, Netflix announced in 2016 that the Chinese market wasn’t a focus and they’d take the loss.
Sucks that they’ll never hit their goal of breaking into every country in the world though. Oh well, maybe Netflix can put China’s market on the bucket list.
In the end, things aren’t looking to bad for Netflix. They recently announced that they are turning to India for service expansion in Asia, and India has been very welcoming towards the service, like most would.
Really, the only one who loses in this is China and the people that the government claims to work in the best interests for. Maybe one day China will become more welcoming and relax their iron grip, but for now Netflix must look elsewhere for business, even if that means ignoring an entire country.