Netflix is about consumer choice, not censorship

All your burning questions about the streaming service's catalogue choices answered here

Surprise, surprise. Netflix content isn’t censored.

When certain titles were spotted missing from the catalogue of the service that just went live in Singapore, it was easy to jump to the conclusion that it’s the result of censorship. We sat down with Netflix’s Greg Peters (Chief Streaming and Partnerships Officer) and Robert Roy (Vice President, Content Acquisitions) to separate fact from fiction.

It’s the people’s choice

Yes, Netflix has Orange is the New Black on it even though there were expectations that it would be missing from the catalogue. Why? Because we are grown ass adults who are capable of choosing what we want to watch ourselves. And that's what Netflix offers - choice. It's an on-demand platform with a global ratings system in place to give viewers information about the content offered and also a pin-code system that you can put controls around. 

"Our goal is to comply with all local laws. We’re going to put the content out with all the information and let people choose how they want to view it," Peters said, "Everything is on demand. You can watch it when you want, where you want, and how you want. Or don’t watch it."

The case of A Clockwork Orange

The film is available as part of Singapore’s Netflix offerings even though it was previously banned in the country. How did the film make it into the library?

“We’re not a broadcast service. We don’t send content to anybody that doesn’t request it. And we provide all of these mechanisms in the product so that users can restrict what content is presented to themselves or to their kids differently. That’s a more efficient model for satisfying consumers,” claims Peters.

"We’ll see over time how that goes, what consumers expect about the type of content they get and how they control that experience."

There’s a PIN lock feature in Netflix

It comes default in countries like Singapore and Germany where the consumer behaviour in those countries expects that, but it’s really available in every country as an opt-in.

As for why other countries with stricter laws don’t have it as a default setting, Peters remarked, “Basically we’re looking at how all internet services work in those countries. We’re trying to figure what’s the right consumer expectation and then we’ll adjust based on what we see.”

No plans to include sports programming

As they believe that there is still a place for broadcaster linear television like the news and sports, and other real-time events, linear viewing will continue to stick around for a long time.

Netflix is just one entertainment solution so just like music streaming never replaced radio, Netflix will never fully replace cable TV.

Offline watching mode could be possible one day

According to Netflix, it’s technically feasible. While they are generally operating under the assumption that there are tons of connected situations that they can provide a compelling experience to, they’re always on the lookout for more that they can do.

Imagine watching an episode of BoJack Horseman until you get to your stop without having to use up your precious data. Goals.

Cross-country VPN access

Should people use VPN to access other countries’ catalogues? Of course, the official answer would be a resounding no. They’re trying to move towards a global standard catalogue so that you won’t need to use a VPN although they couldn’t tell us when that equilibrium would be reached.

You just need to know that using a VPN is against their terms of use and they use an “industry standard approach” to prevent people from using it aka you've been warned.

House of Cards isn’t on the cards as yet

The cult Netflix original isn’t in Singapore’s catalogue due to licensing issues. It was one of their earliest deals and certain territories were left out of it. Will we ever get HoC then? It’s hard to say right now, but they’re stopping short of saying never.

Peters says, “For 2016, we plan to have over thirty series. and what we’ve announced is over 600 hours of original programming next year. We’ve just kicked off our original film initiative as well. Beasts of No Nation, The Ridiculous 6, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. And documentaries as well.”

He then adds, “We’re hoping that if we can’t get House of Cards, you’ll forget it eventually.”