Netflix Expanding into Piracy-Heavy Spain

Ryan Whitwam

The red envelope of Netflix continues its global expansion with official word that the service will be coming to Spain in January 2012. The move was confirmed by Pedro Perez of FAPAE, the Spanish Spanish producers association. Netflix has caught fire in many territories throughout North and Central America, but faces an uphill battle in Spain, a country famous for high levels of piracy.

Netflix is expected to reach 30 million US subscribers by the end of 2011, and the Spanish film industry wants a piece of that. Over 400 million illegal downloads are suspected in Spain every year, compared to 100 million movie tickets sold. The opportunity to convert even some of that piracy into legitimate income is sure to be alluring.

The odds are against Netflix, though. Even the launch of Apple’s iTunes store late last year has been lackluster. Sales in that ecosystem have continued to be below expectations. Spain hopes to clamp down on piracy with the recently approved (and controversial) Sustainable Economy bill. This would allow authorities to close down sites offering illegal downloads. Do you think Netflix sill thrive in this new environment?

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