US-based Internet TV network Netflix has ended geo-blocking of its services in Qatar and 129 other countries this week.
New users in Qatar can now binge-watch TV shows and movies for $8 to $12/month (QR29 to QR44), with the first month free.
Previously, accessing Netflix while in Qatar required using a VPN or DNS proxy server.
The lifting of the restrictions has been met with jubilation by many in Qatar:
The service is mostly in English, but Netflix said it was adding Arabic, Korean and Chinese to the 17 languages it already supports.
However, users in China, Crimea, North Korea and Syria will still not be able to access Netflix without a workaround.
In a statement, Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings said:
“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. With the help of the Internet, we are putting power in consumers’ hands to watch whenever, wherever and on whatever device.”
In addition to old and fairly current Hollywood and Bollywood movies, as well as films from several other countries, Netflix has caches of current and past television shows in its library, including 10 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, all six seasons of Lost and all four seasons of Arrested Development.
It also has a large library of children’s movies and television shows.
The service has been growing in popularity recently following the success of some of its original series, including House of Cards, Narcos and Marvel’s Daredevil.
Its competitor Hulu has also been growing its own television offerings, buying up the rights to stream classics like Seinfeld, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charles in Charge. However, Hulu is still geo-blocked in Qatar and unlike Netflix, has commercials.
According to some analysts, Netflix has also contributed to the changing of people’s television viewing habits over the years.
Some 66 percent of people surveyed by TiVo last summer said they used Netflix to binge-watch their favorite programs.
Some said they did this to catch up after falling behind on a program, while others intentionally waited until an entire season was available so they could watch episodes in quick succession.
The survey also found the stigma around watching hours of television/movies in a row is fading.
Anyone planning to spend their weekend on Netflix? Thoughts?
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