Netflix Couldn’t Look More Like A Global HBO

It’s been years in the making, but Netflix has finally pivoted to a premium channel for the web. It started as a DVD subscription service and evolved into a Spotify for movies. But now that Netflix is available everywhere around the world, it is just like HBO without a cable channel.

If you’ve been following Netflix over the past few years, the company started making tiny steps into original content with blockbuster successes, such as “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black”. But it wasn’t a way to compensate for the fact that content deals were getting too expensive.

If you read Netflix’s global expansion announcement, the company isn’t saying that people living in Uruguay and Vietnam are going to be able to watch 20th Century Fox movies. It’s all about Netflix original content. Other movies and TV shows are just an afterthought.

For one monthly price, members around the world will be able to enjoy Netflix original series including Marvel’s Daredevil and Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Narcos, Sense8, Grace and Frankie, and Marco Polo, as well as a catalog of licensed TV shows and movies.

There are a few things worth noting about the company’s global expansion. First, it’s much easier to negotiate content deals in bulk for movies and TV shows that weren’t already distributed in some countries. Mubi has been taking advantage of this, and Netflix is now using the same strategy.

Second, Netflix doesn’t even care that much about these deals. Sure, being able to stream “Back to the Future” whenever you want sounds great, but it’s just a way to get more subscribers on board.

If you live in the U.S., chances are you first subscribed to Netflix by thinking that you’d be able to stream countless movies. And now, you only watch Netflix original content on Netflix. And this is exactly what Netflix wants.

Sure, House of Cards works great in the U.S., but it’s a damn good show even if you don’t read about American politics in your newspaper. Now, billions of people can watch Jessica Jones, House of Cards, Master of None, Daredevil, Orange is the New Black and countless others.

In 2016 alone, Netflix is going to release 31 new and returning TV shows, dozens of documentaries, movies and kid series. So it’s clear now. Original content isn’t something that is nice to have for Netflix, it’s key to Netflix’s value proposition.

It’s worth noting that some shows are missing in some countries, such as House of Cards in France and Germany bought the international distribution rights before Netflix expanded to Europe (Canal+ in France, Sky Deutschland in Germany).

But I’m sure that Netflix is going to keep the global distribution rights for any future show. The only thing separating HBO from Netflix is that Netflix is a delinearized channel and that it is available around the world.

And it’s clear that delinearization is the future as HBO is betting heavily on its standalone streaming service HBO Now. “The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told GQ in 2013. It’s safe to say that Netflix is now HBO, but bigger and global.