Netflix continues its expansion into far-flung foreign markets with plans announced Wednesday to launch its video-streaming service in Scandinavia before the end of the year. In separate news, the company has cut a deal with indie-film distributor Fortissimo Films to make about a fifth of its 300-strong library available on Netflix in September.
As THR’s Scott Roxborough and Georg Szalai report, the Denmark-Sweden-Finland-Norway market is a shrewd target for Netflix, even with potentially prohibitive costs and solid competition already on the ground there.
Scandinavia, with its rich, educated and digitally savvy populace, is an attractive territory for Netflix, but the U.S. giant enters an already crowded market there.
Amazon.com-owned LoveFilm, which is a major Netflix competitor in the U.K., has a foothold in the Nordic territories, as does local startup Voddler, a Swedish-based VOD operation backed by such investors as cell phone giant Nokia, and MUBI, the online VOD site specializing in arthouse cinema, which launched in Norway in July as part of a planned Scandinavian roll-out.
Another potential future rival is Acetrax, the pan-European VOD operator that U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB, in which News Corp. owns a stake, acquired in May. Acetrax's footprint of seven European countries does not currently include Scandinavia, but the Nordic territories have been on its radar.
The Fortissimo agreement will bring films such as “Devils on the Doorsteps,” “The Goddess of 1967” and “U-Carmen eKhayelitsha” to Netflix queues.
“We are very excited to be part of the digital streaming universe that Netflix has successfully created and built out in a short period of time,” said Fortissimo executive VP Winnie Lau. “In making these critically praised films from all over the world available to American audiences, many for the first time, a great collaboration has been established and we look forward to expanding that with additional titles in the coming months.”