Netflix Comes to Cuba as Embargo Softens

Español As of Monday, February 9, Netflix is to offer its online movie and television streaming services in Cuba, following the softening of trade restrictions the US government announced on January 15.

As in any other country, Cubans will have to pay a US$7.99 monthly rate to view their favorite shows on demand. However, limited access to computers, credit cards, and high speed internet connections may prevent many from accessing the service.

“We are delighted to finally be able to offer Netflix to the people of Cuba, connecting them with stories they will love from all over the world,” Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement.

“Cuba has great filmmakers and a robust arts culture and one day we hope to be able to bring their work to our global audience of over 57 million members,” he added.

Internet access in Cuba is still severely restricted and private connections are monitored by the state. Only 4.3 percent of the island’s households are connected to the web, according to the International Telecommunications Union. Dial-up, broadband, and Wi-Fi connections are all regulated.

Following the relaxing of the economic embargo of the island, Cubans will now be able to access US-issued credit cards. MasterCard announced that it will allow US credit cards in the island effective March 1, while American Express has indicated that it will soon launch operations in Cuba.

Cubans will now be able to watch Netflix-produced series such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, though it’s as yet unknown whether additional content will be available. Distributors of movies and television networks will have to negotiate transmission rights anew with the Caribbean island nation.

Netflix said last month that it aimed to complete its expansion into 200 countries within two years, faster than previously expected, as it builds its presence overseas amid slowing growth in the United States.

Sources: Infobae, AFPReuters.

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