With the news today that Netflix is now available in Myanmar (and most everywhere else) came much excitement.
And some bemusement.
The big question is: will it actually work here? For many, web speeds are still floating somewhere around the 1990s dial-up era level and few people have broadband installed at home.
So we asked David Madden from Yangon tech hub Phandeeyar whether he thinks Netflix will be a success here. The answer was something along the lines of: ‘yes – but…’
Speed isn’t the main problem
“It’s possible to stream Netflix on as little as 0.5 megabits per second (mbps), although the recommended broadband speed is 1.5 mbps and the faster your connection is the better the quality of the video,” said Madden.
“Now while it’s currently difficult – or at least expensive – to get those kinds of internet speeds through fixed line internet services (fiber, ADSL etc) in Myanmar, mobile internet – at least in the major urban centers – is usually fast enough to stream Netflix. And if you’re not moving around, then it should also be stable enough.”
The problem is payment and price
“To access Netflix you need to either have a Paypal account or a credit/debit card. Myanmar is massively unbanked – most people don’t have a bank account, let alone a credit/debit card. So if you want to watch Netflix, you’ll need to find someone with a credit/debit card.”
It’s going to suck up mobile data – and that will be pricey
“The minimum monthly fee is USD7.99, so you’ll also need a spare 10,000 kyats [about $8] per month. To many people in Myanmar this is still a lot of money. It’ll be even more expensive if you are watching through a mobile internet connection because data costs money and video uses lots of data. (An hour of video on Netflix is about 1 gb of data).
“Also don’t forget: people who spend money on movies in Myanmar are often spending 300 kyats to buy a pirated DVD.”
The bottom line
“It’s great that you no longer need to use a VPN (virtual private network) to access this streaming service in Myanmar, but it’s going to be a while before Myanmar is a big market for Netflix.”
As the country reacted to today’s news, some social media users came up with Myanmar-centric alternatives to ‘Netflix and chill’.
‘Netflix and ayesay’ (Burmese for chill)
‘Netflix and wait’
‘Netflix and buffer’
As we sat waiting for the credit card payment to go through we thought of another:
‘Netflix and GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.”