Netflix is coming to Cuba

A classic car sits outside a movie theater in Havana, Cuba.
Justin Solomon | CNBC
A classic car sits outside a movie theater in Havana, Cuba.

Netflix is bringing its streaming service to Cuba, the company said Monday.

In a surprise move, the California-based company will allow anyone in Cuba with an Internet connection and access to international payment methods to sign up to Netflix and "instantly watch a curated selection of popular movies and TV shows." In addition to Netflix's own programming like "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black," the company said it would offer Cuban customers a wide range of films and series.

Netflix will charge the same as it does in the U.S., $7.99 per month, but that may price out most Cubans, as the average monthly salary in 2013 was about $20 (471 pesos), according to the Cuban government's National Statistics and Information Office.

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Internet coverage will also be a problem, with Cuba boasting one of the lowest per capita rates of fixed broadband subscribers in the world, according to the World Bank. Just .05% of Cuban households were broadband subscribers in 2013, according to the institution.

In fact, many Cubans access content via underground services—paying 25 cents per week or a dollar per TV series to download shows from a hard drive full of content.

Netflix saying in a statement: "Think of this as a sign of our confidence in the reforms underway in Cuba and that loosened restrictions on U.S. businesses will lead to rapid investments in the country, including infrastructure improvement. You should also note that foreign nationals (embassies and the like) and tourists in hotels are going to have broadband."

Netflix also notes it can deliver its service even on very slow non-broadband networks thanks to what it calls "adaptive streaming." The company also faced similar skepticism about its Latin America push, but there it turned out that the lack of credit cards—rather than internet infrastructure—was what slowed its launch.

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"We are delighted to finally be able to offer Netflix to the people of Cuba, connecting them with stories they will love from all over the world," Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings, said in a press release. "Cuba has great filmmakers and a robust arts culture and one day we hope to be able to bring their work to our global audience of over 57 million members."

Netflix has been operating in Latin America since 2011, the company said.

—NBC News contributed to this report.