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Update: Netflix sets sights on Hong Kong, three other Asian markets

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 15:39
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Netflix plans to enter Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea early next year as the online video-streaming company races to complete a global rollout.

[LOS ANGELES] Netflix plans to enter Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea early next year as the online video-streaming company races to complete a global rollout.

Netflix will begin by streaming a selection of popular TV shows, movies and kid-friendly programming. Most will come with local subtitles, and further details such as pricing will be disclosed later, it said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday.

The Los Gatos, California-based company only started service in Japan last week, and it plans to complete a global expansion by the end of next year as it pursues sources of revenue beyond its home market. Its growth prospects have made the stock the top performer in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index this year, with subscribers exceeding 65 million in 50 countries.

Still, the shares have pulled back in recent weeks, in part due to concern over increased competition for viewers' dollars. Time Warner Inc.'s HBO, Hulu and Amazon.com Inc. have all boosted their online offerings this year, while Apple Inc. is considering its own video-streaming service.

Netflix fell 3.9 per cent to US$94.95 at the close in New York, the seventh-straight daily decline. The stock has risen 95 per cent this year.

While the US and Europe are heavily contested, much of Asia outside of China remains fertile ground for streaming services in search of new markets.

Netflix expanded to New Zealand and Australia in March and this month began streaming in Japan, a country with more broadband households than any of its current markets apart from the US.

The company made local programming a cornerstone of its strategy in the world's third-largest economy. It partnered with Fuji Media Holdings Inc. to produce a drama for the service's debut, the first time Netflix has started out in an overseas market with local content.

Chief executive officer Reed Hastings has also said he hopes to get Netflix into China next year, though the company didn't mention Asia's largest economy in Wednesday's statement. Netflix faces entrenched competition there in Tencent Holdings, Baidu and Alibaba Group Holding, which has begun testing a Netflix-like service dubbed Tmall Box Office.

News of the company's Asian expansion first emerged through a Chinese-language statement that was posted briefly on its website earlier, then quickly pulled.

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