I just recently signed up to stream movies online from Netflix but in order to watch the Netflix movies, here in China, I have to us a VPN (virtual proxy network). My VPN connects my computer to a server in the U.S. which enables me to surf the web as if I were in America. I also like to download movies for my students here in Suzhou, China, by using my trusted VPN.
I learned quickly from speaking with my students that they are huge fans of American films and television programs from the U.S.
There are many Chinese here excited about the fact that Netflix has its eyes on China. The company sees a huge profit potential in Asia due to a huge demand for online American films.
Netflix in recent years has been experiencing a slowdown of subscriber growth in the U.S. The firm has announced that they are aggressively intending to expand globally. The company is currently in talks with Chinese online broadcasting firms, the executives of the involved Chinese parties are hoping to work out a deal.
There is a lot to be worked out though and the negotiations are in its early stages. The deal will most likely face various complications with the Chinese censors. There will most likely be programming content that China feels objectionable for China’s viewership.
There are many broadcasting companies based in China that would love to partner up with Netflix. They understand the global influence of the American media. However, China has raised concerns over foreign online content. The country has also placed many obstacles and policy restrictions on foreign content, especially, from America.
China has close to 600 million internet users which Netflix would like to tap into. For instance "House of Cards," a Netflix original top-billed by Kevin Spacey, is already famous in China, with avid viewers including the country's powerful anti-corruption ambassador, Wang Qishan.
The series' first two seasons have gathered positive and overwhelming viewership results in the Chinese video streaming site operated by Sohu.com, Inc. However, the show's third season has not been aired on the portal yet after new Chinese restrictions were issued. It has been said that the series was placed on China’s chopping block due to China’s over the top censorship of American programming.
I haven’t watched the series “House of Cards” but millions in China can’t get enough of the series. Many fans have illegally downloaded the third season, making China the top pirated video downloader of the recent "House of Cards" episodes.
The fact that China is placing so many restrictions on what can and cannot be viewed in its country only reveals the major differences between our two countries. The American broadcasting companies have to deal with censors but nothing to the extent of restrictions you find in China.
Like I mentioned before my students here in Suzhou, China also enjoy watching American films. But, like me many of them have to use VPN’s which are illegal in China.
I think the fact that VPN’s are being used illegally here for the simple enjoyment of watching American movies online - is a reflection of China’s irrational fear of America’s influence on the Chinese culture.
I do hope Netflix is allowed to stream its content in China but I feel they are in for a huge disappointment. I say this because in the end China’s restrictions on American programming will become Netflix’s greatest obstacle and perhaps its greatest disappointment for China’s viewership.
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:
Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.