Internet movie and television streaming service Netflix has launched in Cuba, as diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba continue to thaw.
Netflix said its content, such as series House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, will be available to anyone with international payment cards.
On 15 January, the US announced new rules that ease long-running sanctions against Cuba.
Netflix just launched in the unlikeliest of locales: Cuba, where less than 5% of the population has internet access and the streaming media company’s subscription cost—$8 a month—is almost half of the average salary. Many are questioning what use is an internet-streaming service like Netflix would be of value to Cubans. One of the top priorities for the US in normalizing its relations with Cuba is to improve Cubans’ access to the internet. And Cuban leaders, at least, have signaled that they’ll allow it. The US now allows exporting communications equipment to Cuba and recently built a $31 million fiber-optic cable connecting Cuba to Florida, with the hopes that it will someday supply the internet to the entire island.
A trade embargo has been in place since 1962.
US credit card firms MasterCard and American Express have both said they will launch operations in Cuba soon.
Last month, Netflix said its international expansion was proceeding ahead of schedule.
The company said it plans to expand to 200 countries in the next two years, and to earn “material profits” from its operations overseas by 2017.
“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,” said Netflix co-founder and chief executive Reed Hastings in a statement.
“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.”
By the end of 2016, Netflix wants to be available in every country in the world. Right now Netflix has 57 million subscribers in about 50 countries.
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