Netflix, the popular on-demand provider of Internet streaming media, has its eye on Singapore’s shores.
According to a Straits Times report, Netflix has urged Singapore authorities to reconsider allowing local telcos to continue to charge interconnection fees to reach local broadband users. This is, according to the report, the “strongest indication yet” of their interest in entering Singapore.
The American company has already shown strong interest in expanding their already wide reach to the Asia Pacific. As of March 2015, Australia and New Zealand joined the list of over 50 countries where Netflix is present, and according to Associated Press reports (via Mashable), they have also pledged to open an office in Japan, the first ever in Asia, by the end of 2015.
It makes sense for them to be looking seriously at Singapore for their next expansion after Japan. After all, Netflix has made their plans for world domination pretty clear. As of 2015, the company boasts more than 20 million international subscribers in more than 50 countries, and has shared that they want to be in 200 markets by 2017.
Hopefully, this means that they intend to come to Singapore before 2017. The Singapore office, if and when it happens, could well be Netflix’s gateway to conquering the rest of Southeast Asia. According to Apex Capital, Netflix is “quickly becoming one of the most powerful media companies in the world”, and their stock prices are nothing short of bullish.
In the meantime, Singaporeans are still trying access Netflix through less than legitimate ways, largely by using VPNs to get around the system. MyRepublic’s VPN integrated service, Teleport, for example, allows users to stream online content without having to go through third-party services.
Even Singtel has seen the value of Netflix, and is working with Sony Pictures and Warner Bros to release Hooq, a Netflix-type streaming service that also allows you to download videos to watch — something especially useful for when 4G is unavailable. This pits Singtel in direct competition with Netflix’s plans to expand into Singapore.
Both Singtel and StarHub also have PayTV services, which commands about two-thirds of the broadband user base, or more than one million broadband subscribers, in Singapore.
But it won’t be the first time Internet service providers (ISPs) have shown resistance to Netflix’s entrance. American ISPs Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and Timer Warner, for example, charge users access fees that give them unfettered access to Netflix’s content. It won’t be much of a surprise if Singapore’s ISPs were to do the same.
“These fees tilt the level playing field, cement the dominant retail providers’ positions and cause higher prices for consumers,” said Netflix director of global public policy Colin Bortner in consultation documents, in the Straits Times report.
So when can we expect Netflix to take over the little red dot? I’m guessing we’ll hear more news on this by year end. But it’s clear that local telcos aren’t going to let it happen without a fight.