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Netflix comes to Cuba, but who will be watching?

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Now that the President has opened the doors up for improving U.S.-Cuban relations, Netflix has swooped in and made its streaming television service a new resident on the controversial little island off of Florida’s coast. Those who actually have Internet access can now sign on for $8 U.S. per month for a subscription to the big red streaming service that continues to back-up its ambitious plans for world domination.

While it’s positive news for both Netflix and Cuba, one has to wonder how well Netflix will do there with such a strictly guarded Internet infrastructure — one to which very few people actually have unrestricted access. According to a recent report by CNN Money, only about 5 percent of Cuban residences have “unfiltered” access to the Internet. And only a quarter of the population has Internet access at all, consisting of a highly-monitored system controlled by the state that only allows basic access to services like email, and a few foreign sites that support the Communist government.

RelatedNetflix to launch in Latin America

Interestingly, Netflix notes in its press release that the service will be made available to Cubans “as Internet access improves and credit and debit cards become more widely available.” Yes, it’s not only the Internet access we need to worry about, but consumers actually having access to an electronic method of payment to take care of the monthly fee. The extremely low wages of the average Cuban citizen, estimated to be as low as $20 per month on average, will be another major road block.

Netflix says those Cubans that can access the service will have access to a “curated selection” of popular movies and TV shows, including original series House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Marco Polo; animated films like The Adventures of Puss in Boots; plus a wide range of films, series, and kids programming similar to what’s offered throughout Latin America. This marks another on a long list of stops for Netflix, which recently announced plans to occupy online real estate in 200 countries by 2017.

With a population of about 11.27 million people, only a very small number of people on the island will potentially have the opportunity to check out what’s up with a group of women in a female prison, or find out what dirty deeds Frank Underwood is up to now in the oval office. Hopefully Cuba will continue to expand Internet access to reach the rest of the populous — and not just so they can learn how to binge watch.

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Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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