Streaming video service Netflix will be available to Cuban customers starting today, at the $7.99 U.S. per month rate that it offers in the U.S., the company announced today. It’ll still require an international payment method for now, as well as Internet access (which still isn’t ubiquitous in the U.S.), but it’s an early start that Netflix says it wanted to offer in order to have it available as Cuban Internet access expands, and debit and credit cards become more available to Cuban citizens.
With this move, Netflix becomes one of the first U.S.-based companies to take advantage of the U.S. government’s decision to relax trade restrictions that have been imposed on Cuba since the 1960s.
“We are delighted to finally be able to offer Netflix to the people of Cuba, connecting them with stories they will love from all over the world,” Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement released by Netflix. “Cuba has great filmmakers and a robust arts culture and one day we hope to be able to bring their work to our global audience of over 57 million members.”
Part of the plan to increase trade with Cuba included provisions aimed at allowing U.S. telecommunications companies to provide better access to communication and internet services, and this appears to be a move by Netflix to participate in said introduction of services, even if at this stage the service’s introduction is largely symbolic. Still, Netflix’s show of intent is a clear message reflecting the kind of change we can expect to see as the U.S’s relationship with Cuba evolves.