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Netflix service might expand beyond Canada

Netflix recently launched its streaming service in Canada. The CEO says if it does well there the company might go further abroad.


If Netflix enjoys success with its new streaming service in Canada, it could expand further internationally, company CEO Reed Hastings said in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

"For now, we're focused on Canada," Hastings said in an interview published today. "If we succeed in Canada, we will certainly look at other markets."

Canada is Netflix's first foray outside the United States. Exactly where Netflix could go in the future is up in the air, Hastings said. But he told The Hollywood Reporter that "Western Europe, Latin America, Asia, or Russia" could be in the company's plans.

"It's unlikely to be Africa, but other than that, all continents are open," Hastings said.

Hastings also reaffirmed that his company wouldn't be offering DVD-by-mail services to Canadian customers. He said that "the growth over the next 10 years will be in streaming." And that's where he plans to focus his company's efforts.

Netflix launched its streaming service to Canada yesterday. As in the United States, Netflix's Instant Streaming is available on several devices. The offering allows Canadian customers to watch "thousands" of films and television shows from several studios, including MGM Studios and Paramount Pictures. The service is available for 7.99 Canadian dollars per month (about $7.73 U.S.); in the U.S. it costs $8.99.

The Hollywood Reporter asked Hastings if he's concerned that Americans will see that Canadians are paying less for the streaming service and ask for the same price.

"How much has it been your experience that Americans follow what happens in the world?" Hastings said in response. "It's something we'll monitor, but Americans are somewhat self-absorbed."

Hastings' comments are all over Twitter. A quick search of his name on the social network shows that a number folks were upset about Hastings' comments. One user asked if Hastings knew "that it's bad business to insult customers." Several others said that they plan to cancel their Netflix subscriptions in response to the comment.

In response, a Netflix spokesman said in a phone conversation with CNET that Hastings' statement was "a self-effacing comment made in jest." He went on to say that Hastings "would not intentionally offend anyone."

Update 4:56 p.m. PDT: Hastings apologized this afternoon in a post on the Netflix Blog for his "self-absorbed comment."

"My Big American Foot in is my mouth," Hastings wrote. He went on to explain the difference in pricing and added that the company is considering having a streaming-only option for the U.S. "in the coming months."

It's the second time that an apology has been issued surrounding the launch in Canada. The company initially defended itself when members of the media questioned whether Netflix instructed paid actors to gush about the service at a press conference yesterday. In a blog post early this morning, Steve Swasey, vice president of corporate communications, said that actors hired for a coporate video "were given improper direction to talk with the news media about their enthusiasm for the Netflix service. This was a mistake and was not intended to be part of our launch plan. Simply put: we blew it."