Bahamians now have another option to legitimately download and watch movie and television content, as Netflix has officially opened its cyber-doors to this market. The move comes as a part of a marketing effort that adds 43 Caribbean and Latin American countries to the content provider's 25 million North American clients.
Priced at $7.99 for The Bahamas, the service, which first launched yesterday, allows Internet streaming of film and television content via PC and Mac computers and Wii game consoles. According to some consumers, Netflix is definitely something to look forward to, but not everyone thinks it will impact their current cable subscriptions.
"In addition to my cable arrangement, I'll be using it to catch up on older shows and movies not readily available now," a 44-year-old civil servant and self-professed techy told this newspaper yesterday. He had signed up for the service that morning.
"When I'm in a TV watching mood, I'll connect my laptop to my TV," the subscriber said, who did not want to be identified.
He also intends to watch using his Wii, an internet equipped DVD player, and an Android-based tablet, although he said there were still some issues with the Netflix application on Android tablets. Another avid television watcher is looking forward to signing up for the service, but only if it will give him access to content he wants that is not available at all or "on demand" through his existing Cable Bahamas Rev TV package.
"The process with Cable Bahamas means that some movies are not showing that I would like to see. So depending on what Netflix offers - like Indy films, or movies that I haven't seen in a while but want to watch, or series that I can't get, I'm going to sign-up for it," said the 35-year-old banker, who also wished to remain anonymous.
While content was important to both persons and Netflix's download service promises viewers the chance to watch "what they want, when and where they want", according to a Netflix official blog, the service is losing one of its most significant content providers.
Early this month, the New York Times reported that premium cable channel Starz would be pulling out of its distribution deal with Netflix, effective February 28, 2012. It will mean not only the loss of Starz series programing, but more importantly its film content - Starz controls Sony and Disney online film distribution.
Still, the Netflix offering will provide more options to access movie and television entertainment - bringing local providers into direct competition with the US based service.
But the local competition is heating up too. The Bahamas Telecommunications Company's (BTC) promised its 4G network could also bring anywhere-access to television and film content. And as far as watching anywhere goes, technology like the Slingbox can allow users to watch and control their at-home cable and satellite services from anywhere via an internet connection.
Locally, the Netflix service will also compete with pirated copies of movies that many people can buy on the streets. According to the high-tech civil servant, in terms of value-for-money, the Netflix offer may eat into that market.
"If people can get a month of movies and TV for the price they pay for one or two low-quality pirated DVDs, they may slow down on the pirated movies. The only catch with that, of course, is that the pirated movies are often just-released titles," the 44-year-old said.
Rochelle King, Netflix VP of User Experience and Design, on 'The Netflix Blog", said that the service would be launched to the 43 Latin American countries by yesterday - the culmination of a long effort to get into those markets.
"Getting to this day has been incredibly rewarding for everyone at Netflix - the passion and energy that have gone into building our Latin American service is amazing," King said. "Over the last few months, our team has spent countless hours in the region learning as much as we can about how Latin Americans think about, and enjoy, movies and TV shows."
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