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Netflix Says Goodbye to Starz, Hola (And Olá) To New Markets

Posted by Anthony Zumpano on September 6, 2011 01:45 PM

What do you do when you lose one of the most valuable resources for your popular product? If you’re Netflix, which suffered a setback when Starz ended its relationship with the movie rental and streaming brand, you head south.

Although Netflix’s launch in Brazil this week, part of a 43-nation rollout throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, wasn’t a direct result of the loss of Starz, it shows the brand shaking off what was a shaky summer — which included a customer revolt when the company revised its pricing plans – with some good news.

Like any brand looking to expand its coverage from the US and Canada to its southern, mostly Spanish-speaking neighbors, Netflix spent what it calls “countless hours in the region learning as much as we can about how Latin Americans think about, and enjoy, movies and TV shows.” (One hopes the researchers aren’t the same folks who concluded that Americans are interested in at least four straight-to-video American Pie sequels.)

As ubiquitous as Netflix has become in English-speaking North America, the New York Times notes some significant hurdles the brand must overcome south (and very south) of the border, including rampant piracy, slow Internet connections (minimizing the appeal of streaming movies), local competition…and the fact that Netflix lacks brand-recognition in those markets. 

On the other hand, when you consider that Internet speeds and broadband access can only increase in a market that includes 600 million people in economies that appear to be on the rise, it’s a better bet than risking your Saturday evening on a movie you never heard of because it stars Sharon Stone and Christopher Walken.

While Netflix makes inroads overseas, it still has to keep an eye on issues at home. Rival Dish plans to launch a streaming service based on the Blockbuster assets it purchased earlier this year, and Netflix is hiring lobbyists and lawyers to deal with a number of issues that can’t be solved by streaming several seasons of Boston Legal.

In other words, even as Netflix broadens its view to the south, the brand will still have to look over its shoulder.

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