Netflix has officially begun rolling out its service in Latin America. The company's streaming service went live in Brazil today, where users can now sign up for a paid subscription costing the equivalent of about $9 a month and get the first month for free. Like its U.S. and Canada counterparts, Netflix Latin America will be available across computer platforms, game consoles, and internet-connected TVs -- mobile is reportedly coming "over time".
Foreign and domestic content will be offered in Brazil. The company hasn't really shared many details about the content on offer or how will it differ from its service in the U.S., only that they have "licensed thousands and thousands of hours of feature films, classic favorites, gripping telenovelas, documentaries and kids shows."
Netflix will roll out its service to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay on Wednesday, and will expand to Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean within a week. It's worth noting that Netflix's international expansion is limited to streaming movies only; there are no plans to start a distribution mechanism for Netflix's physical disc rental service like the one available to U.S. customers.
Launching across that many countries will be a huge usability and customer service challenge, not to mention the fact that broadband penetration and speeds are lower in the region. Nevertheless Netflix says they've been "testing and figuring out the right Internet architecture to make sure the quality and speed of the Netflix streaming experience is the best it can be," and that they've been training people locally to deliver excellent customer support.
Netflix's performance overseas will be closely watched by investors worried about losing the Starz contract earlier this month, which means they'll have to pull about 1,000 videos from Sony, Walt Disney and other studios. Its success or failure in Latin America will also affect the planned expansion to other major markets like Europe and Asia.