Netflix Is Coming to Israel – but Who's Going to Run It?

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Netflix.Credit: AP

Netflix, the world's largest provider of streaming video, is reportedly planning to expand to over 200 markets within the next two years, including Israel. How the streaming service plans to enter the Israeli market, however, remains to be seen.

The company has its own huge libraries of films and television series that the customer can order on demand, at a subscription price in the United States of $8 per month. The subscriber can watch the VOD content on a computer, tablet, smart phone; or on television using either a smart television or an external box. 

At the beginning of the year, Netflix announced it was planning on expanding form the some 50 countries where it operated into over 200 within the next two years, and would invest marketing resources in its new markets. At the same time, the company refused requests over the past few months from Yes and the Hot cable provider to buy content Netflix had produced - it seems as part of its plan to enter the Israeli market in 2016.

Netflix's entry into the Israeli market could create significant competition for the first time in Israel's multichannel television industry. If as expected, Netflix charges only a few dozens of shekels a month for its content, this would be a major threat to both Yes and Hot. But it is not clear that VOD services would be a true alternative for most Israeli television customers.

Yona Weisenthal, acting head of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, has received an offer to run Netflix's new Israeli operations. Weisenthal, one of the most experienced people in the Israeli media content market, was in charge of content for the Yes satellite broadcaster for 15 years.

Weisenthal informed the government's Official Receiver, who is responsible for the liquidation of the Broadcasting Authority, of his intention of leaving his position as acting head of the IBA because of the problems in implementing the reforms at the Authority; as well as new legislation which removed some of his authority for establishing the new public broadcaster. Weisenthal had intended on starting his own business and acting as a consultant on content, and he was in contact with a number of organizations including the Walla website. Now it seems Weisenthal also received an offer to head Netflix's operations in Israel.

Weisenthal declined to comment.

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