On Wednesday, Netflix announced that it would expand service "around the world." Only three countries missed the cut: China, North Korea, and Syria:
There's one other place that won't get Netflix. That's Crimea, the part of Ukraine annexed by Russia in March 2014. Here's a version of the map, courtesy of Mashable's Christopher Miller, that highlights it:
Why only these four places? According to Netflix, it's trying to get service to China. "Netflix will not yet be available in China, though the company continues to explore options for providing the service," the company said in a press release.
This speaks to just how difficult the Chinese market is for Netflix to navigate. As Bloomberg's Adam Minter explains, rampant piracy, censorship, and Chinese government media regulations make it really, really difficult for foreign companies to set up streaming services. "Companies that want to stream video in China are required by the government to acquire a license — so far only seven have been issued, all to Chinese companies," Minter wrote in May of last year.
The other three countries, by contrast, are blocked off because of US sanctions. According to Netflix, US sanctions on North Korea, Syria, and Russian-controlled Crimea prevent it from doing business there.
This speaks to the degree of international opprobrium that has been heaped on Russia for its Ukraine campaign. Per US law, Crimea is under a sort of business restriction otherwise reserved for North Korea, the world's most repressive dictatorship, and for Syria, a government that's currently slaughtering its own people in a civil war. Even Iran is more open to Netflix than Crimea is.
That says a lot about how rare Crimea-style wars of conquest are today, and how seriously the international community takes them.