American TV production and content streaming company Netflix has begun an internet survey among Israeli households regarding their television watching habits and the price they would be willing to pay for the company’s service, Hebrew business paper Calcalist reported Tuesday.
If it entered the local entertainment market Netflix would pose a challenge to Hot and Yes, the two companies currently sharing control of the cable TV market.
The survey appeared to put to rest months of speculation on whether Netflix was planning a foray into Israel.
According to Calcalist, the company found that a fair price for Israelis to subscribe to the service would be NIS 30-40, a tough challenge for Hot and Yes which currently charge around NIS 120 for their cheapest packages. Cellcom, a cellular phone provider, recently entered the market with its own cheaper Cellcom TV service, but even that costs NIS 99 per month — more than twice what Netflix is reportedly planning to charge.
Netflix is internet-based and supplies VOD (video on demand) services, and as such provides a different and less flexible service than Hot and Yes (both have VOD as well as regular TV transmissions and cable stations). But for consumers who mainly watch TV series and movies and who are not junkies of local television, Netflix may well be a sufficient solution.
The survey, Calcalist reported, was conducted by an Israeli polling company which refused to divulge the identity of the client; but the frequent naming of Netflix and phrasing of the questions left little room for doubt.
The company purchased a local domain (Netflix.co.il) as early as 2010, reserving it for future use. Currently, the page only leads to an error message saying the company does not supply services in Israel.
Some tech-savvy Israelis subscribe to the service by using private networks which can simulate an American IP address.
According to Calcalist, since the beginning of the year Netflix has refused requests by both Hot and Yes to buy its new internally produced shows, only selling them shows for which previous seasons were already acquired (such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black).
Netflix currently has 65.5 million subscribers in 5 countries, with 65 percent of those being Americans. The company was founded in 1997. Currently valued at $200 billion, Netflix is now engaged in a major effort to widen its distribution and aims to supply services in 200 countries within the next two years.