Netflix Inc. has made available its video streaming service in Cuba, becoming the first U.S. Internet firm to launch commercial service in the communist island.
“Cubans can gain access to a broad range of original series, movies, documentaries, comedy specials and TV shows starting at $7.99,” stated the company in a press release.
Netflix is the second American technology firm after Google to launch Internet-based services in the communist island. Analysts says Netflix cannot expect to make large profits with its expansion to Cuba, because, according to reports, only 15% of the Cuban population has access to broadband.
Cubans can stream movies only by swiping their credit or debit cards. Netflix’s arrival comes just two weeks after MasterCard told its U.S. customers that it would handle their credit card transactions in the communist island.
Analysts say it makes sense for U.S. technology firms to move into Cuba earlier than their competitors do, because Internet service in Cuba is set to expand at a rapid speed in the months to come, especially after the United States permitted the exportation of communications equipment to Cuba and the construction of a US$31 million fiber-optic cable connecting Cuba to Florida.
Netflix began offering its service in Latin America in 2011 and now counts over 5 million members in the region.