Economy, Sci & Tech

Netflix Came and Left

Netflix Came and Left
Netflix Came and Left

Netflix, the American video website and application, announced over the Iranian weekend, i.e. Thursday-Friday, that it was pushing ahead with plans to offer its video service globally.

Among the countries and territories still not allowed to access the service are the Crimean peninsula, North Korea, Syria and China.

Not included in the list of embargoed countries was Iran, which prior to this announcement has always been grouped with the above countries.

After the news of the video service expanding to an additional 130 countries went public at this week's CES technology show in Las Vegas, social media websites and chat groups lit up with excitement that the website was working in Iran.

Netflix boss Reed Hastings said that the new countries made Netflix a "new global internet TV network". The company has said in the past that its eventual plan is to create an international network so that everyone can watch the same content from anywhere, including Iranians.

However, their sudden announcement that Iran joins the rest of the 129 countries shows how aggressive the company is in expanding its clientele base.

"With this launch, consumers around the world—from Singapore to St Petersburg, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo—will be able to enjoy TV shows and movies simultaneously; no more waiting," said Hastings.

"With the help of the Internet, we are putting power in consumers' hands to watch whenever, wherever and on whatever device."

However, many in the country who are avid fans of American and British TV shows, some of which locally dubbed and sold legally in Iranian video stores, were quickly disappointed after the government cut access to the website on Thursday evening.

Upon learning the site was open and working in Iran from both sides, Financial Tribune conducted a test to see what was available.

The payment procedure went through without a hitch even with the Iranian IP address with an account charge of $7.99 for a one month trial. As part of the free one month trial, the date in which the user must cancel before the date they are charged appeared with an Iranian calendar–for the first time on American website.

This indicates that the team at Netflix have been working with specific Iran plans, as it is localized to such an extent.

When passed the payment period and viewing the range of videos on offer to Iranians, the majority of videos were recently released TV series from the United States and older offerings from the United Kingdom, none of the videos listed were from local Iranian studios, and the language remained in English throughout.

After 20 minutes of attempting to load up videos using a one megabyte connection to no avail, the website was blocked by the local Internet Service Provider.

As short as the availability to Netflix was in Iran, locally developed alternatives are available, including the carbon copy website called Filimo, owned by the local website company Saba Idea.

Filimo has worked with many local TV studios to offer a competent selection of video from local studios in Persian. However, the site, launched in 2015, has had some traction with local internet users in Iran and is currently ranked 728 by SimilarWeb. This could be down to the generally slow rates of connection in Iranian homes, which is now on average slower than 3G mobile Internet connections by over 16x.