Cuba’s population of more than 11 million can now binge-watch their favorite shows, with the arrival of Netflix's streaming video service in the island country as of Monday, for $7.99 a month. The service expansion comes as Internet service improves and more debit cards become available in Cuba amid renewed diplomatic relations with the U.S.
The announcement makes Netflix one of the first American companies to act on the U.S. government’s recent decision to warm the decades-old trade freeze, imposed on Cuba when Fidel Castro rose to power in the early 1960s. Internet and telecommunication companies are major beneficiaries of the trade ease, with companies like Netflix now able to reach a market that’s almost entirely untapped.
“We are delighted to finally be able to offer Netflix to the people of Cuba, connecting them with stories they will love from all over the world,” Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement. “Cuba has great filmmakers and a robust arts culture, and one day we hope to be able to bring their work to our global audience of over 57 million members.”
The surprise announcement came on Twitter.
Bienvenida Cuba! Netflix is now available pic.twitter.com/rMocX4Bk73
â€” Netflix US (@netflix) February 9, 2015
Netflix shocked Wall Street last month when it announced it would seek to grow from its current size (50 countries throughout the world) to operating in 200 countries within two years. Netflix also plans to launch in Australia and New Zealand in the first quarter of 2015, with executives hoping that the quick expansion will provide revenue needed to do more original content, like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.”