Media

Netflix’s Reed Hastings thinks ‘House of Versailles’ is the key to cracking the French market

Image Credit: Illustration by Tom Cheredar

France has a booming tech scene and an intelligent population that generally enjoys digital products and services. But that doesn’t mean expanding your company into the French market is easy.

For example, there’s that time French officials discussed tacking on a “culture tax” for anything sold by Google or Apple within the country. Then there’s the country’s insistence that Google pay French publications for featuring links in Google News, their refusal to sell video DailyMotion to an American company, the country’s ban on free shipping (targeted at Amazon), and the list goes on.

The difficulty tech companies experience is because France knows it’s a lucrative market with a very attractive consumer population — and has taken great strides to ensure this doesn’t get diluted by letting capitalism run amok.

On the other hand, that has led foreign investors to stay away from the country in droves, cutting foreign investment in France by 77 percent in 2013, even as it rose across the rest of the European Union. (And foreign investment just hit record levels in the U.K.)

If you’re Netflix, you’ve noted all of these things and have a genius strategy for your eventual expansion into France that involves lots of sweet talking. (Also known as: ass-kissing.) However, you might feel like you’re in a pretty strong negotiating position, given how much France needs that foreign investment now.

“There are some challenges. No question there,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings during today’s earnings presentation. He was responding to an analyst question about how the company might “get around” France’s more stringent regulations and stipulations, which Hasting quickly corrected.

“We want to invest in French society and French content. And we want to give an avenue for French culture to get out around the world. There’s some great French storytellers and a great movie business,” he explained. “We’re also looking to make some investments with original content. So instead of House of Cards, it might be House of Versailles… where it’s not just for France, but the whole world.”

Basically, what Hastings understands is that to play on France’s playground you need to make sure you’re more than just another kid hogging the monkey bars and twisty slide.

But France isn’t the only place Netflix wants to expand into. It also has plans to launch service in Germany in the near future.

But the company is keeping its distance when it comes to the massive consumer population in China, which Netflix CFO David Wells called “conspiculously large.”

Seventeen-year-old Netflix recently hit a milestone with 50 million subscribers across 40 countries, as VentureBeat previously reported.

More information:

With more than 25 million members in the United States, Canada and Latin America, Netflix, Inc. [Nasdaq: NFLX] is the world's leading Internet subscription service for enjoying movies and TV shows. For US$7.99 a month, Netflix members ... read more »

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