Netflix announces Latin American service expansion

Netflix is going south – but in a good way.

The DVD rental and streaming giant announced on Tuesday that its popular online movie and TV service will soon be available in 43 Latin American and Caribbean countries. The expansion, while lacking a firm release date and details on included countries, means Netflix coverage will essentially blanket the majority of the Americas; the company launched a Canadian version just last year.

Jessie Becker, Vice President of Marketing at Netflix, confirmed that subscribers in the region will have the option to display the service in three languages: Spanish, Portuguese and English. Similar to the company’s current offerings in North America and Canada, the Latin American model will also boast PC, Mac and mobile support.

“Netflix members in the U.S. and Canada have really taken to watching instantly and we feel great about being able to offer the same combination of convenience, choice and value to people in Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean,” said Becker.

Reactions to the announcement at the official Netflix blog were generally positive, especially among Latin American residents.

“Oh My God! I can’t wait for the service to roll here in Colombia,” said alberto mario. Another commenter, Gabriel, said: “Awesome news, just hope the price will be similar to USA or at least Mexico here in Argentina.”

Some detractors, still upset with Netflix over recent controversial UI changes, mocked the move. One compared Netflix to AOL and MySpace, while an anonymous commenter half-jokingly said, “time to annoy new countries with a terrible interface.”

Others asked about the long-rumored Netflix Europe.

While some have speculated that it’s only a matter of time before the company officially unveils a worldwide initiative, the expansion into Latin America certainly lends credence to such claims. It’s impossible to say for sure, but previous time frames suggest 2012 may be the year Netflix goes global. The company currently boasts a paying subscriber base of over 23 million people in Canada and the U.S.

Ironically, when Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was asked by Reuters where the company would head next (prior to the Canadian launch), Latin America seemed like an afterthought. “The big market for Hollywood content (after the U.S.) is Europe,” said Hastings. “Third is Asia. Fourth is the rest of the world. Canada is and was an option. It’s sort of international-lite.”

Are you a Latin American resident excited about the Netflix expansion? Let us know what you think about the news in the comment section.