Along with new customers in large markets like India and Russia, Mr. Hastings said, people on RÃ©union Island â a small French-governed island off the coast of Madagascar â were some of the first to sign up as new subscribers, making them maybe the most unlikely people to try Netflixâs fast-expanding global service.
âThey must have pretty good Internet connections,â Mr. Hastings joked in an interview here on Sunday at DLD, a technology and media conference. âWe saw a lot of people signing up there.â
Fulfilling the needs of these new customers â in out-of-the-way places like RÃ©union Island, along with more populous countries like Indonesia â is now a top priority for Mr. Hastings, whose goal is to turn Netflix into a global media giant.
That involves signing deals for local-language content in many of the countries where Netflix has just arrived, funding new programming in Japanese and other languages and offering subtitles for non-English speakers who want to get their fix of âOrange Is the New Blackâ or âHouse of Cards,â two of the companyâs popular American shows.
âWe have a lot of work to do to add more languages,â Mr. Hastings said, adding that the company would add roughly a couple of new languages a year as part of its global introduction. In many of the 190 countries where Netflix is now available â including Turkey and Poland â the service is available in English, but not the local language.
âWeâre seeing sign-ups in places like Somalia,â he said. âItâs incredible to see.â That shows, he added, âhow the Internet is truly global.â
Despite his lofty global ambitions, Mr. Hastings still has his work cut out to persuade people, particularly in developing countries, to spend roughly $ 7.50 a month for the video-on-demand service, a price that may prove too high for many potential subscribers.
Netflix must also overcome a growing number of local rivals, many of which have mimicked the companyâs business model to offer subscription on-demand programming, often in national languages, to quench peopleâs thirst for content obtained over the Internet.
On Sunday, Mr. Hastings remained upbeat about the challenges ahead. Netflix, he said, was not just competing with other video-on-demand services, but it also wanted to grab a few hours of peopleâs days when they could be watching television, reading a book or even sharing a glass of wine with friends.
âIf we try to outdo local competitors, we can differentiate ourselves for our customers,â Mr. Hastings said. âWe donât have to win everyoneâs viewing habits. We only have to win a few hours of peopleâs time.â