While Netflix announced global expansion today at CES, some of the streamer’s original video content may look different internationally. In response to a question posed on the issue of removing offensive content in some markets, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was vague: “We’ll see and we’ll have to learn,” said the exec in a post-keynote press conference (via Variety).
He then made a reference to “airplane cuts,” in which Hollywood removes R-rated content in order to show films on flights. “Entertainment companies have to make compromises over time,” continued Hastings. It would certainly be a change of pace for the streamer, whose upcoming slate of original series includes the weed and sex-filled Chelsea Handler docuseries called Chelsea Does.
As Variety notes, implementing the strategy would likely help Netflix’s campaign to bring the service to China. That country, currently Netflix’s primary holdout, is widely known for censoring Hollywood’s content before letting the general public consume it. “The censorship always goes back to the Communist Party. They’re in charge and they’re always looking at how China is portrayed,” explained Apex Entertainment CEO T.J. Green to NPR last year. “They didn’t want to see something that portrayed it … [as] a developing country.”
If Netflix does go ahead with a strategy like this, there’s lots of variables to consider: What content is considered offensive? Who will make the cuts? Will, say, China and Vietnam receive different cuts? What international markets will receive them? What will consumers in those markets think about them?
While the idea of country-specific cuts on Netflix is certainly in its earliest stages, it sounds like the video streamer is considering some form of it. And it wouldn’t be a first for the subscription video streamer: Japanese customers can’t see the full frontal nudity in the Netflix original series Marco Polo, for instance.