#NetflixEverywhere




#NetflixEverywhere


by Sherif Awad 
Since the consecutive launches of the first Arabsat Satellite in 1985 and the first Nilesat Satellite in 1988, Egypt and the Arab world both entered the era of free-to-air and pay-per-view broadcasting with hundreds of channels becoming available to TV viewers on the comfort of the their home couches. With the growing of internet speed and its number of users across the world during the last two decades (reaching around 55% penetration reach here in Egypt) and with the birth of Smart TVs in 1994, TV entertainment crossed over to a new dimension where availability of content became faster and globally possible on multiple streaming platforms.
In the US, Netflix was one of the first companies to realize the rising internet speed at households of consumers and its rising number of users within each family. Therefore, what has started as a DVD rental service via post office boxes across the US in 1998 evolved and became the leading video streaming provider in 2007. Netflix expanded its streaming to Canada in 2010 and now serves over 190 countries including Egypt starting of last January. As of April 2016, Netflix reported over 81 million subscribers worldwide, including more than 46 million in the US.
Few days before the Arab world celebrated the start of the holy month of Ramadan, Netflix decided to host an event at the Greek Campus of the AUC to present its services to the Egyptian market since many people might not have known that Netflix application is now available to download on their smart TVs, smartphones and tablets. Joris Evers, Vice President, Head of Communications for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Netflix was there to make a presentation of Netflix to the attendees. Evers joined Netflix in 2011 as Director of Global Corporate Communications having experience in both technology journalism and corporate communications. Prior to joining Netflix, Joris worked at McAfee, an Intel Company and was a finalist in the Online News Association awards for his service to journalism.  As Netflix has been expanding during the last two years, he was asked to move to Amsterdam in order to establish a European headquarter with a team of marketing, social media and PR.  
Sherif Awad: When it has been decided to launch Netflix in Middle East and Africa?
Joris Evers: In Netflix, we have always thought that the future of TV will be on the internet since everybody is online and globally connected to the world.  Right now, viewers are becoming used to instant access meaning when you start to hearing about a film or a TV series, you want to go ahead and watch it immediately. Satellite TV was and still geographically bounded because films sold to specific territories was inaccessible in others. Netflix intents to overcome these geographical boundaries with its services. Hence, came the strategy to expand our global reach with our two US main teams of workers; the first who is located at Silicon Valley and focusing on the technological side and second who in Hollywood focusing on the entertainment side of the service.  
SA: In the US, there are similar competitive services like Amazon Video and Hulu that both started in 2006. In the Middle East, we have similar services like Icflix that is also offering Arab content in addition to Western content.  How do you plan to manage with the competition? In addition, in Egypt, we are a cash driven society with services like Fawry and Bees replacing credits and debit. So how will you collect the monthly subscription?
JE: We are aware that, in Egypt and other regions of the world, there are obviously competitive services, satellite or linear, that project the habits of TV viewers. We are also aware that we are still in the early days of internet TV. However, Netflix established prices point two years ago and so our customers can get a lot for not so much money 9.99 USD. Netflix also started to produce original content, which is available to all viewers worldwide in countries like Brazil, Korea and Spain in order to overcome the constraints of rights when acquiring from other film and TV producers. We might also think of other alternative ways of receiving payment (right now it is via Paypal or credit cards) according to the region where we are operating. 
SA: How will Netflix overcome possible censorship in the Middle East?
JE: Internet TV is different than broadcast because it is fully on demand meaning any subscriber has the right to choose what to view, when to view it and on which platform. From its side, Netflix tries to provide information about any content like age classification and genre. Hence, the subscriber can know what to expect when selection to see a TV show or a film. On Netflix interface, each family member can create his own profile with his favorite shows in addition to create a specific profile for kids in the house. 
SA: What can we expect from Netflix in the upcoming months?
JE: In addition to the original films and series we produce, we have recently acquired Arab content like the Emirati thriller Zenzana (Rattle the Cage) by Majid Al Ansari with Palestinian actor Ali Suliman and Saudi actress Ahd. Also, among our documentaries, we acquired the award-winning The Square by Jehane Noujaim. Recently in Cannes festival last May, we acquired the new Lebanese film Divines by Houda Benyamina, winner of the Camera d’Or (the directorial debut award).