Netflix shares climbed more than 3% in early trading Friday, breaking the $600-per-share barrier for the first time, as investors rallied on a report that the streaming giant is seeking a partner to launch service in China.
The company — which has more than 62 million streaming customers worldwide — is in talks with China’s Wasu Media and other unidentified firms about potential partnerships to launch service in the nation, Bloomberg reported late Thursday. China is the world’s most-populous country with about 1.4 billion people.
Netflix’s famously volatile stock popped as high as $606.47 per share Friday, and was trading at just under $606 in the morning session. [UPDATE, 3 p.m. PT: Netflix stock closed Friday at $613.25 per share, up 4.5% for the day.]
Asked for comment on the report, a Netflix rep said only that the company has said it expects to be “nearly global” by the end of 2016. She declined to provide additional comment. Netflix has said is expects to be available in about 200 countries within the next two years.
Launching in China presents specific obstacles for Netflix. The highly regulated country requires a business license from foreign entertainment companies to offer services.
“For China, we are still exploring options — all of them modest,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells wrote in their letter to shareholders in January. “We’ll learn a great deal if we can successfully operate a small service in China centered on our original and other globally licensed content.”
On the call with investors, Hastings added that in China, Netflix needs to get a license to offer service and said: “It’s not 100% clear we’re going to be able to do that.”
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, speaking at the MoffettNathanson conference Wednesday, said the company is looking to potentially break into China with a partner. “It’s a pretty big country to have an asterisk,” he said, noting that “House of Cards” is one of the most popular shows in China.