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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.”

For 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).

This 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.

You can try out Netflix for free for one month by signing up at 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]

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