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Netflix now available in Uganda but don’t get too excited yet

Netflix has launched its video streaming service globally, simultaneously bringing its Internet TV network to more than 130 new countries around the world.

The company made the announcement and switched on the global service during a keynote by Co-founder and Chief Executive Reed Hastings at CES 2016.

“Today you are witnessing the birth of a new global Internet TV network,” said Hastings.

“With this launch, consumers around the world — from Singapore to St. Petersburg, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo — will be able to enjoy TV shows and movies simultaneously — no more waiting. With the help of the Internet, we are putting power in consumers’ hands to watch whenever, wherever and on whatever device.”

netflix4For one monthly price, Ugandans can now enjoy Netflix original series as well as a catalog of licensed TV shows and movies. In 2016, the company plans to release 31 new and returning original series, two dozen original feature films and documentaries, a wide range of stand-up comedy specials and 30 original kids series, available at the same time to members everywhere.

Ugandans took to social media to express their thoughts on the news of the availability of Netflix in Uganda, with several excited about the development but some expressing reservations.

One of the main concerns is the speed and cost of internet here, since the subscription price is only part of the cost of accessing the video content.

With video settings at “Medium” which shows standard video quality, you’re set back about 0.7 GB per hour, making it over 1 GB for an average 90 minute movie. At a rate of UGX 12,500 per GB when you buy a 10 GB bundle from MTN Uganda, Vodafone, or Airtel Uganda, in less than 3 hours of watching you will have spent more in internet costs than the monthly Netflix subscription that starts at $7.99 (approximately UGX 27,000).

netflix3This means that although you have access to unlimited TV shows and movies in Ultra HD for only UGX 33,800, it will cost you a minimum of UGX 18,000 per 90 minute movie or UGX 8,000 per episode of Blacklist you watch in HD. This cost is if you are subscribed to Vodafone’s “Unlimited” 6 Mbps package capped at 50GB, but the figure shoots up quickly when you buy a smaller bundle say the 10 GB we referenced earlier to about UGX 56,200 for a movie and UGX 25,000 for an episode of How to get away with Murder.

The other bottleneck that we envisage with enjoying the full capacity of Netflix is hardware as many devices we have in our homes aren’t HD capable. Netflix allows you to watch on a wide range of devices, but most TVs on the market here aren’t capable of viewing HD let alone Ultra HD. Not many users have streaming devices, gaming consoles or other compatible devices so many users here will be limited to standard or basic video quality.

At first glance the availability of Netflix seems like a threat to DSTV who recently had the public up in arms when they hiked subscription rates, but when you look at the details, DSTV won’t be going down too easily.

Netflix has not yet been made available in China, Crimea, North Korea and Syria due to U.S. government restrictions on American companies.

Since Netflix launched its streaming service in 2007, the service has expanded globally, first to Canada, then to Latin America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan to include 60 countries.

netflix2You can try out Netflix for free for one month by signing up at www.netflix.com but it requires that you enter payment information, either a credit/debit card or PayPal. Additional payment methods would go a long way to increase uptake in specific regions. For example in Uganda, adding Mobile Money payment option would open it up to many more users than Visa and PayPal.

Let us know in the comments what your thoughts are on the arrival of Netflix in Uganda.[related-posts]


Joshua Twinamasiko G

Josh is passionate about Cybersecurity in an increasingly digital, global economy. Digital Evangelist. #DigitalFirst. Always.


    1. The alternative is already available. Ever had of Canal+ ? I have it and it shows premier league, Bundesliga , Italian soccer and many more more for just 85,000 ugx per month.

        1. Yes they do! They have 5 sport channels.
          I personally don’t watch soccer but use for my sports bar in Wakiso. So far I haven’t received any complaints that a match was not available.
          I pay 128,000 Ugx for viewing on 2 different tvs.
          The only disadvantage might be for u that they speak in Arab. But my customers prefare watching the picture with our local radio such as radio simba or CBS.

          1. It’s my brother Ronald who brought it. But u might call him for more infos 0777684297.

      1. Kavuma,
        please share with me contact details of how how i can get this canal+
        my number is 0706335213

        1. I’ve already provided my brothers number who knows where to get it. See my post.

  1. Let’s not be pessimistic and deal with this monopoly problem first….if you notice there are also solutions to the internet cost issues they’re on the way….but first at least I would like to say our internet speeds have improved….just the other day I watched an almost one hour documentary of Allen Iverson without buffering…?

    1. Ivan you’re right, internet speeds in general have improved with 4G. Buffering in general is in the past but I can’t speak for those on 3G. It seems 3G is crowded.

      But the real issue is the cost. The best data bundle for streaming data is currently is at UGX 200,000, but average cost is about 20k per GB. At 18k – 60k per movie the cost of streaming is still much higher than alternatives.

      I hope we see price cuts this year!

      1. Josh that’s true but my optimistic mind tells me it won’t be long till that internet cost issue will be properly dealt with. I mean who new in 2004 that someone would stream a whole 1 hour documentary without buffering. And let me share a little secret for some of us late nighters there’s a little fix to bypass the internet costs which are the night 1GB bundles which are availed by most of the big players in the market MTN, Airtel and Africell and they go for as low as 2,500 for a GB valid between midnight to 6am. I’ve utilized them for my Skype calls and they work perfectly well. So something even better will come to sort this internet cost puzzle. Kisobooka!?

        1. BTW I’m with you in the optimism!

          And yes I know that night GB bundle is quite a savior some times!

  2. Awesome post Josh. Thanks for curbing the misplaced enthusiasm and fomo that will lead Ugandans who can not afford Internet to spend recklessly.
    It is great news for some of our “bait and switch” providers. A nod to the famous “fair use policy”.
    I was recently schooled on the thinking behind fast capped bundles. I am pleased to tell you that we have adjusted so well to it that a certain service provider is going to remove the larger “unlimited bundles” in favour of slower monthly packages because you clever Ugandans are running companies with 500+ GB of data after 6 months of renewal.
    Netflix is on my “wait and see” list for now. We barely have workable Internet. Services like Netflix require affordable not just workable.

    1. Thanks for reading & sharing your thoughts James.

      Indeed the FOMO is very high right now, only that I have a feeling very few of the excited people will actually spend on the data to run Netflix regularly. You’re right, we need affordable. The cost of internet in Uganda is still much higher than it could be.

      Meanwhile that’s surprising, I was hoping we were going to see more unlimited bundles this year, not some ISPs scrapping them!

      1. Heheheheh I forgot about the worst catch. The need for a visa card. A certain friend of mine who just rushed to test this will get a rude shock when after 30days, Netflix will just debit his account.
        There is a hidden trick by these guys who ask for debit/credit cards. They prefer that you opt out and they pointedly tell you that giving them your card while not meaning a charge in first 30days, is a tacit permission for them to debit your card UNTIL YOU CANCEL.
        If you are going to test, remember to cancel immediately after you are done.
        Also, they do a test transaction of less than a dollar to ensure that they can debit your card so don’t think you will use an expired card or one that has no money on it.

        1. Oh yes! I’ve fallen prey to this one a couple of times before! What happens is that within a few days you’ve forgotten all about it and you’ll remember when they bill you!

          And BTW if you us a valid debit card which just doesn’t have funds they will try and fail when due but keep trying in the background and they day you deposit cash they will renew!

  3. There are people working already to let Ugandans pay for Netflix using mobile money

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