Netflix soon streaming in China? Recently acquired Empresses In The Palace might be a clue

Netflix has been pretty bold recently with their plans to expand internationally. With a decent % of US households already subscribed to the streaming service, it makes sense that more rapid growth could be derived from extending beyond the border.

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Currently available in 50+ countries, Netflix seemingly has its sights set on the world’s biggest, China. Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Netflix just acquired the rights to ‘Empress in the Palace,’ a successful Chinese drama revolving around the first year of Emperor Yongzheng’s rule.

The show has a respectable audience, and is seemingly a step for Netflix to begin testing the waters of viewership in China. With over 600 million users (a little less than half the population of the entire US), it makes perfect sense why Netflix would be interested in capitalizing on this massive opportunity.

But it won’t be without a few interesting challenges.

For example, China already has a massively popular streaming service in LeTV. And while, as the above Deadline Hollywood article states, Netflix is forging a partnership with LeTV, there is no way either view each other as long term allies, as if Netflix plans its expansion into China, there will naturally be direct competition for market share. As Netflix users have seen countless times in the past, relationships between current rights holders and Netflix can quickly turn sour once the relationship is no longer viewed as mutually beneficial.

Specifically on the ‘Empress’ deal, Netflix has stated plans to slim down the content offering, as the current length breaches almost 60 hours. Netflix plans on shortening the series, so it will be interesting to see how this is handled without alienating current fans or confusing new viewership.