Netflix's unprecedented international expansion is quickly taking shape as a pivotal moment in the service's history, but it's also introducing some new and imposing problems. When asked by The Verge's Ross Miller about the company's stance on altering its original content for international markets at an open Q&A this morning, CEO Reed Hastings wasn't able to commit to a specific alteration or censorship policy.
"As to your question about... different versions like 'airplane cuts,' we'll have to see and we'll have to learn," said Hastings. "I think entertainment companies have to make compromises over time ... the thrust of what we're trying to do is have the artistic vision be consistent through the world." "Networks and studios have been navigating those waters for years," added Sarandos, "so we'll just have to do the same."
How does cultural conservatism affect a show like Orange Is the New Black?
The censorship issue is one that's easy to overlook until you look at Netflix's collection of original content with a critical eye. Operating around the world means accommodating a huge range of cultural norms and sensitivities, and there could be pieces of Netflix shows that warrant viewer discretion in Azerbaijan that we take for granted in North America. How will the sexual realism and diversity of a show like Orange Is the New Black change in a country that's comparatively conservative? That question doesn't have an answer yet, though Hastings' response suggests Netflix is open to tweaking things as long as a show's core isn't compromised. We might not have to wait long to find out what those tweaks look like.