Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) is not content with dominating the U.S. market. The eponymous digital movie service has expanded far and wide in several steps: Canada, then Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by the British Isles. Scandinavia followed suit, and Holland joined the party less than two months ago.
So where is Netflix heading next? It's hard to say for sure, but the company may have tipped its long-term hand on its own job postings board.
Netflix is looking for localization experts. These are "experienced linguists with the ability to translate and customize marketing, UI and content materials for the target market." It's safe to say that Netflix wouldn't look for these professionals if it had no intention of opening shop where they are needed.
So what languages is Netflix interested in right now? Quoting straight from the job posting, the company wants native speakers of: "Arabic, Vietnamese, French, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, German, Swedish, Polish, and Hungarian."
OK. Some of these are aiming at established markets. You won't find enough Swedish speakers to support a Netflix service anywhere but Sweden, and the Brazilian Portuguese area is pretty well confined to Brazil. Netflix already runs streaming services in these areas.
But the other languages open up plenty of greenfield markets. Here's how I see the potential targets breaking down, with a couple of additional Spanish- and English-speaking nations thrown in for good measure:
Red markers signify the usual suspects. Yellow markers would be long shots.
Let me explain my assumptions a bit. French and Arabic are spoken in a number of African nations not highlighted here, but most of these are either too small or too politically unstable to make economic sense for Netflix. The same argument explains all of my "long shots" in the map above, too. I'd be shocked to see Netflix opening shop in Somalia or North Korea, for example, for purely political reasons.
A few seemingly obvious languages are missing for Netflix's wish list. Unless the company already has the appropriate language skills on hand, Netflix may not aim for Russia, China, and India for a while.
Given the need for experts in these languages, I fully expect Netflix to attack Western Europe and the Far East over the next couple of years. Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa seem like relative "gimme" opportunities, given their strong economies and English-speaking prowess. I have to say that the Arabic focus caught me by surprise, but North Africa and the Middle East is a region full of interesting nations. Some are large, others are rich. Places like Morocco and Saudi Arabia could be perfect for a Netflix rollout.
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