Cubans Can Now Get Netflix. Now All They Need Is An Internet Connection

The streaming video service announced today it was “delighted” to make its product available in Cuba. But with an estimated 5% of the Cuban population having access to the web, the country is unlikely to go on a national House of Cards binge just yet.

JoJo Whilden/Netflix

Netflix announced today that it is expanding its streaming service to Cuba: a country where internet access is restricted to a tiny portion of the population and the company’s $7.99 subscription fee would claim a big chunk of the typical worker’s salary of about $20 a month.

“I’m not sure who is going to subscribe to this service,” said Ellery Biddle, an editor of Global Voices who has studied the Cuban internet for a decade. High speed internet in Cuba, such as it is, largely comes through a single fiber-optic cable from Venezuela.

“We are delighted to finally be able to offer Netflix to the people of Cuba, connecting them with stories they will love from all over the world,” Netflix chief executive officer Reed Hastings said in a statement. Netflix said it has over 5 million customers in Latin America and over 57 million worldwide.

The Obama administration announced an opening of relations with Cuba in December of last year, but connections between the island and American businesses are still slim.

Before the installation of the cable from Venezuela, only slower satellite internet was available in Cuba. The only service provider is the state telecom company ETECSA, and a small portion of Cubans who apply to get internet service actually receive it, Biddle said. They’re mostly academics, high-status foreigners, and state journalists.

“It’s going to be really expensive relative to most people’s ability to pay, it will be an elite group or people who have money coming in from abroad, people in the monied sectors,” said Ted Henken, a professor of sociology and Latin American studies at Baruch College. Internet access to international websites in a Cuban public kiosk costs about $4.50 an hour.

Freedom House estimates that about a quarter of the population has some internet access, but the majority of that is to a “tightly controlled government-filtered intranet” which has email, an encyclopedia, some educational materials and websites. About 5% of Cuba’s 11 million people has true access to the world wide web.

The White House described the cost of internet access in Cuba as “exorbitantly high” and said that telecommunications companies would be allowed to “establish the necessary…infrastructure” to expand telecom and internet services.

“What Netflix is doing it is making something completely legal and possible before it’s practically possible from a technical standpoint, which then puts the pressure on the Cuban government and the U.S. government to make this stuff happen technically,” Henken said.

But while few Cubans will be binge watching Orange Is The New Black via online streaming anytime soon, more are likely to access it the old-fashioned way – via downloaded copies, passed around between friends. “Cubans are extremely creative and inventive,” Henken said, “I’m sure there are some people who are able to get access to this very quickly in Cuba, who will be able to rig something out and figure it out.”

And Netflix already has an old-school competitor in Havana: A bundle of the latest TV shows and movies is distributed through an informal network known as the “Weekly Packet,” where USB drives are distributed and sold throughout the country packed with video for offline watching.

“You can get almost anything now, except porn or politics,” one purchaser told The Guardian last year. “You won’t find the Miami Herald in the Weekly Packet. But if you want to be informed about the world, then you can be. There are no mysteries anymore.”

Read more:

Champion Angel Matos Kicks Referee in the Head! Jim Lampley (NBC) Gets Gold Medal Olympic Laugh! Watch it HERE!

If you are looking to laugh in the Olympics, you had to see this. Make sure to read all the way to the bottom, or you will miss it.

In the Olympic Bronze medal match for taekwondo, Angel Valodia Matos of Cuba, the 2000 Olympic Welterweight Champion, took too much time for an injury time-out and was disqualified from his match.

We are guessing he did not like being disqualified, because his response was to kick the referee in the head. Honestly, he kicked the referee…in the head!!! We figure if he kept going in the match, he may have tried to bite off his opponent’s ear, as in this famous Mike Tyson/Evander Holyfield matchup.

Angel was completely disqualified from the games. Really? Why? Jim Lampley would tell us.

NBC announcer Jim Lampley had us in hysterics. The funniest quote from the Olympics that we can remember!!! Jim said, “Matos was disqualified because… after all, it is the first rule of taekwondo, you cannot kick the referee in the head”.

Get Lampley on “Last Comic Standing”. He had us laughing harder after this comment than we did the entire last two seasons of Last Comic!!

Please check out all our Olympic Coverage From a USA Perspective!!  Many top rated articles with videos and reviews to keep you up to date on the Olympics.

Watch the short clip here!

USA Womens Beach Volleyball Team says NOrWAY!!

May-Treanor/Walsh did it again, embarrassing the Norwegian team.  The ladies once again won in straight sets 21-12, 21-15, finishing off the final set with an ACE!!

This one wasn’t worth covering, except to say the US Team is undefeated after 104 straight matches!!!!  Is that even possible?

American Women’s Beach Volleyball Make 203!!  Impossible?  Believe It!

It is truly pleasurable to watch those among the best in their sport.  It is a different experience altogether watching the best in their sport.

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, ranked 2 in this Olympics, played against Dalixia Fernandes and Tamara Larrea of Cuba.  Dalixia and Tamara are among the best in this sport.  Misty May and Kerri are the best.  They entered this match with 202 sets in a row under their bikinis without a single loss!!

The Cubans were beaten in straight sets 21-15, 21-16 in 36 minutes.  Easy.  The Americans made it 203 sets in a ROW without a single defeat!

Photo Credit: Natacha Pisarenko / Associated Press