Netflix will begin streaming 20 Russian TV channels to appease local watchdog

Netflix on iPhone X
Netflix on iPhone X (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Netflix will begin streaming 20 local TV channels in Russia from March.
  • Netflix has been classified as an audiovisual service, forcing the move.
  • Any TV streamer with more than 100,000 daily users will likely need to offer the same TV channels.

Netflix will begin streaming 20 Russian state TV channels from March in a move that will be mandated for all streamers that have more than 100,000 daily users. The move comes after Roskomnadzor, the country's media watchdog, classified Netflix as an "audiovisual service" last week.

Engadget, citing a local reports, notes that any streamer with more than 100,000 daily users will be classified the same way — something that will likely put Apple TV+ in the crosshairs as well. Apple doesn't share its streaming figures, however, so we don't know for sure.

The change means that, as of March, Netflix will begin streaming channels including Channel One, an entertainment channel alongside a Russian Orthodox Church channel.

Netflix on TV

Netflix on TV (Image credit: iMore)

Netflix being added to the same register as other media companies will also mean that it has to follow Russian laws, including those related to what the country labels as content relating to "extremism." However, "critics claim that provision has been wielded against those who support the Kremlin's opponents."

Yet another result of this new classification is that Netflix will now reportedly need to open a Russian company through which its local dealings will likely need to be funneled.

Just last November, Russia demanded that Apple and other companies set up local offices.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.