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Netflix pulls plug in Russia

Streaming giant's decision to temporarily cut off access comes as Russia's invasion of Ukraine intensifies, and arrives days after Netflix refused to carry 20 Russian free-to-air propaganda channels.

Jeff Baumgartner

March 7, 2022

2 Min Read
Netflix pulls plug in Russia

Netflix, the world's largest premium streaming service, has confirmed to multiple media outlets that it has temporarily shut down operations in Russia amid Russia's intensifying invasion of Ukraine.

Netflix doesn't break out subscriber numbers by country, but it has less than 1 million customers in Russia, according to Bloomberg, which noted that Russians can no longer sign up for Netflix and that existing customers are expected to "lose access in the coming days and weeks."

Netflix ended 2021 with 74.04 million subscribers in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region after adding 3.54 million subs in the fourth quarter of last year. Netflix ended 2021 with 221.84 million subs worldwide.

Figure 1: The Netflix headquarters building in Los Angeles. (Source: Netflix) The Netflix headquarters building in Los Angeles.
(Source: Netflix)

Netflix's latest move in Russia comes about a week after the streaming service announced it would not carry 20 Russian free-to-air propaganda channels that the company was reportedly required to provide under Russian law. According to Variety, Netflix also paused four Russian original series indefinitely.

"Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia," Netflix said in a statement given to multiple publications. The company did not elaborate on what will happen to existing Russian accounts, Bloomberg said. Netflix launched an international service in Russia in 2016 and followed up more than a year ago with the debut of a localized Russian version of its platform through a partnership with National Media Group.

The decision follows a string of similar moves by western media and tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Dell, to suspend or terminate business in Russia as the invasion continues. Cogent reportedly told its Russian telecom customers last week that it was terminating services on March 4.

Prior to the decision to suspend operations in Russia, Netflix touted on Twitter that viewing of its 2015 documentary Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom had seen a surge in viewing, including among subs in Russia:

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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