Netflix Continues European Rollout With Big Bash in Berlin

Netflix
German users will get their first look at Netflix's 'Orange Is the New Black.'

The video streaming giant is launching in six countries in Europe this week

Netflix stopped off in the German capital Tuesday as it continues on its InterRail tour of Europe, launching its video streaming service in a new territory on the continent every day this week.

Following Monday’s bow in Paris, Netflix took over the media conversation in Europe’s largest television market Tuesday, announcing its German service with a red-carpet gala at the Komische Oper in Berlin.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos were joined by talent including Orange Is the New Black's Kate Mulgrew and Famke Janssen of Hemlock Grove, part of the Netflix junket traveling across the continent this week. After Berlin, the troupe heads to Austria on Wednesday and Switzerland on Thursday; the group closes its pan-European tour with Netflix's Belgium launch this Friday.

Germany, however, offers the biggest potential upside for Netflix. With nearly 29 million broadband homes and an underdeveloped pay TV market, Germany looks ripe for the picking. Subscriptions for Netflix’s German service start at around $10.30 (€7.99) a month, rising to $15.50 (€11.99) for the top-end service allowing use on up to four devices and streaming in ultra HD.

That puts Netflix in the same price range as local VOD competitors Maxdome (controlled by ProSiebenSat.1) and Watchever (owned by French group Vivendi). Tougher competition could come from Snap, the online streaming service offered by 21st Century Fox’s Sky Deutschland, which recently dropped its entry price to just $5.15 (€3.99) a month and has extended its exclusive licensing deal with HBO.

Netflix’s starting lineup for Germany is broadly similar to that in France, combining original Netflix productions like Orange Is the New Black with acquired series including Fargo and Penny Dreadful. In an interesting twist, Netflix users in Germany will be able to stream the first two seasons of flagship show House of Cards. The company successfully sublicensed the show from Sky Deutschland. Sky, however, will still have exclusive rights in Germany for House of Cards’ upcoming third season.

There is also a generous helping of high-end German series, including cult comedies Stromberg, Pastewka and Der Tatortreiniger.

There are no plans yet for a homegrown German series along the lines of Netflix’s upcoming French political drama Marseille, but “we expect we’ll do [an original German-language] series in the coming years,” said Joris Evers, Netflix’s head of communications in Europe.

As expected, Netflix on Tuesday also confirmed its partnership with Deutsche Telekom that will see Telekom carry the Netflix app on its Entertain IPTV set-top boxes. A similar carriage deal with mobile group Vodafone is believed to be in the works.

Twitter: @sroxborough

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