Netflix Launches in Spain With Star-Studded Event

Netflix Spain - H 2015
Courtesy of Netflix

Taylor Schilling, Will Arnett and Spanish heartthrob Miguel Angel Silvestre join Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and content chief Ted Sarandos.

Netflix went live in Spain on Tuesday, with CEO Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos on hand to celebrate the newest Netflix territory, flanked by an array of talent from Netflix original series. 

The celebrities included Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black), Will Arnett (Bojack Horseman) and Spanish heartthrob Miguel Angel Silvestre (Sense8). Daredevil producer Steven DeKnight, Daryl Hannah (Sense8) and Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) also flew in for the launch.

“I’m excited to offer Netflix in Spain for the Spanish audience,” Hastings told journalists in Madrid. “Internet TV is what is changing entertainment. People around the world are watching Internet TV because it offers them a superior quality experience.”

Hastings said he expects to boast one-third of Spanish households as Netflix subscribers within seven years — the same goal as every territory where the streaming giant operates.

Hastings called the fact that people “don’t know Internet TV” the “biggest challenge” and vowed that to fight that reality in Spain, Netflix would offer a one-month free trial. Vodafone TV users will get six months free. The Netflix co-founder credited that same strategy for the growth in international Netflix users from 16 million people last year to 26 million currently.

Meanwhile, Sarandos confirmed that the company was meeting with Spanish producers to discuss local series.

“Netflix is about bringing great storytelling to the world,” Sarandos said, emphasizing the local productions would be in Spanish. “We’re doing a local series in Italy and we’re looking for a project in Spain as well. We’re looking for great storytellers and worlds that people have not seen before and that can travel around the world — stories that are entertaining in Spain, but also for our viewers around the world.”

The head of content also said Spain’s rampant piracy did not present a problem for the company and that he expected the country to follow the example of other territories that have seen a decrease in piracy once Netflix was available, saying it would combat consumers' frustration with not having content readily available online.

“Everywhere we’ve launched Netflix around the world, piracy has been reduced, most recently in Australia, which is one of the piracy hotspots in the world," he said. "We’re seeing that [when there is] a really well-distributed product that is well priced, high quality and easy to use, people will choose that.”

Netflix will offer its basic package for $9.07 (€7.99) per month in Spain, with the standard package of two simultaneous HD streams at $10.90 (€9.99). Signature series like Club de Cuervos, Narcos, Marvel's Daredevil and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will launch with Netflix's initial Spanish offer, with more content to be added to the catalog over the coming months.

Hastings said the stiff competition presented by Telefonica’s Movistar TV, with its 3.6 million subscribers as of December, would not hinder Netflix’s growth.

“In the U.S., we’ve grown from zero to 42 million members, and HBO has continued to grow," the CEO said. "The reason is that HBO does good shows. If Movistar has great content, they’ll continue to grow and Netflix will continue to grow. Consumers want great content. But no one channel has [it] all."

Netflix, which started operating at midnight on Tuesday, was set to host a launch party for the Spanish industry with the stars in attendance at the press conference in the evening, along with Orange Is the New Black’s Kate Mulgrew and Jessica Jones’ Carrie-Anne Moss.