Netflix Inc. began selling its streaming service in India and more than 100 other countries, closing in on its goal of becoming the first global online television service.
“Right now, you are witnessing the birth of a global TV network,” Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said Wednesday in a keynote speech at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The stock surged as Netflix went live in 130 new countries, including Russia, Poland and Singapore, during his presentation.
Adding Asian countries like India and others around the world marks a major step for Netflix. But China, the world’s most populous country, remains a gap in the company’s global footprint. The company already operated in at least 60 markets, including most of Europe and South America. Hastings has told investors Netflix will begin to deliver material profits once it completes its expansion.
Netflix has reached “nearly every country in the world but China, where we hope to also be in the future,” Hastings said.
Netflix advanced 7.5 percent to $115.76 at 2:49 p.m. in New York, the biggest gain among members of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The shares, which rose the most in the S&P 500 last year, had started 2016 with two days of losses.
Hastings has positioned Netflix’s online, on-demand service as a cheaper, more modern alternative to the pricey subscriptions for so-called linear TV.
The presentation began with a video recapping the history of television, followed by presentations from Hastings, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos and Chelsea Handler, the host of a coming talk show for Netflix. She interviewed Will Arnett, Krysten Ritter and Wagner Moura, all stars of otherNetflix shows.
Territories outside the U.S. already account for most of Netflix’s subscriber growth. Last year the company projected it would add more than 11 million customers outside the U.S. in 2015, bringing its international total to 26 million.
Netflix is still working to create a consistent lineup of programs across the globe, using its NetflixOriginals -- some made by other studios -- as a foundation and adding some local content, he told reporters after his speech. The company lacks global rights to some of its first originals, like “House of Cards,” but now negotiates for broader licenses in most deals.
"We want citizens of the world to have the same content," Hastings said.
The company doesn’t break out subscriber totals for countries besides the U.S., though it has said it has more than 5 million subscribers in South America. Netflix will produce original series in French, Italian and Portuguese next year.
U.S. law prevents Netflix from operating in a handful of places including North Korea, Syria and Crimea, Hastings said.
The company faces challenges in China, where a local partnership is essential given government controls over licensing for online content, and many potential allies already have competing businesses. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. recently acquired full control of Youku Tudou Inc., one of the largest video streaming services in the country, while Baidu Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. own popular video services.
“We need specific permission from the government. We’re continuing to work on that,” Hastings said. “We’re very patient. I think it will be a success there. It will take some time.”