Netflix's Arrival in Italy Slowed by Infrastructure

Local media reports say that despite the streaming service's plan to launch in Italy this year, the start date could be pushed to 2015 for technical reasons.

ROME -- The lack of ample broadband infrastructure and new-generation TV sets are the main reasons for delays in the much-anticipated arrival of Netflix in Italy, according to reports in the local press.

Netflix is not the only company at least partially on the sidelines due to the country's Internet infrastructure problems: streaming services from Amazon and 21 Century Fox's subsidiary Sky-Italia have run into similar limits, according to a recent report from Italian financial daily Il Sole/24 Ore.

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Various media have speculated that the absence of viable streaming services in Italy is one reason why illegal downloads of films and television programs from torrent sites are growing faster in Italy than in most other Western European countries.

Still, things are looking up, according to Andrea Rangone, head of the television advocacy group Osservatori, who notes that there are now more than 4.6 million smart TVs in Italy and that last year, the devices represented around half of all television sales.

"It should be said that at least from a television perspective, things have improved, especially in the last year," Rangone said. "There's a significant trend."

Officials from the newly installed government of Matteo Renzi have also called on Internet companies to modernize their infrastructure; companies say updates are being carried out continually.

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Meanwhile, the Netflix site remains blocked in Italy.

Officially, Netflix is scheduled to arrive in Italy before the end of the year, though some press reports say it could be pushed back to 2015. The service is first expected to launch in Europe in France and Germany.

Twitter: @EricJLyman