Netflix Formally Exits Russian Market

Netflix has officially ceased operations in Russia, shuttering the streamer’s website and subscriber access on May 27. Netflix on March 7 became one of the first western media companies to suspend operations over the Russia’s unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24.

A Netflix spokesperson told Agence France-Presse the streamer waited until the end of the current billing cycle to cease all operations to about 1 million Russian subscribers.

The world’s largest SVOD ended the most-recent fiscal period (ended March 31) with 73.7 million subscribers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa — down from 74 million at the end of 2021.

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Paramount CEO Bakish Eyeing 3 Million DTC Sub Loss in Q2 Due to Russia/Ukraine Conflict

The ongoing military conflict between Russia and neighboring Ukraine is expected to cost Paramount Global upwards of 3 million direct-to-consumer subscribers in the current second quarter, ending June 30.

Speaking on the May 3 fiscal call, CEO Bob Bakish said the sub losses are due to the company’s decision to withdraw all business operations from Russia in response to the government’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine — a conflict that has resulted in the destruction of Ukraine cities, deaths of thousands of soldiers on both sides, in addition to thousands of innocent Ukraine civilians.

Bob Bakish

Bakish said the decision to suspend business in Russia would negatively affect full-year pre-tax earnings by $70 million to $80 million, the largest component of which will fall to the TV Media segment.

The executive said Paramount is in the process of reviewing existing streaming bundle relationships in Russia. And starting in the current quarter, Bakish said he expects Russian subscribers will be removed from reported D2C subscribers.

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“This change will reduce Q2 D2C subscriber growth by approximately 3 million subs, roughly two-thirds of which are subscribers to a non- Paramount+ service specific to the Russian market,” Bakish said.

Except for the removal of subscribers to streaming services in Russia, Bakish said Paramount Global’s full-year D2C sub growth expectations are unchanged.

“Given the nature of the affected services, the financial contribution is immaterial,” Bakish said.

With Paramount+ not available in Russia, the sub loss won’t affect the SVOD, unlike Netflix, which is projecting a two-million sub loss in the current quarter, much of it due to the Ukraine conflcit.

Russian Netflix Subs Sue Over Service Shut Down

A class-action lawsuit has been filed in Russia against Netflix by the streamer’s subscribers angered by the shutdown of service last month. The suit, which represents Netflix’s reported 1 million Russian subs, is seeking 60 million rubles ($726,000) in compensation, according to the RIA news agency.

“Today, a law firm representing the interests of Netflix users filed a class action lawsuit against the American Netflix service with the Khamovnichesky District Court of Moscow,” reported RIA, citing the law firm Chernyshov, Lukoyanov & Partners. “The reason for the lawsuit was a violation of Russian users’ rights due to Netflix’s unilateral refusal to provide services in Russia.”

Netflix, along with most Western companies, halted service and all operations in Russia in response to President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked Feb. 24 invasion by the Russian army into neighboring Ukraine.

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PBS to Stream New Documentary on Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy

PBS on March 16 announced that Zelenskyy: The Man who Took on Putin, a new documentary profile of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, will premiere as part of special programming on the crisis in Ukraine.

The film premieres on March 18 on PBS, and the PBS Video app. The documentary follows Zelenskyy’s improbable rise from actor and stand-up comedian to political outsider, his unlikely but successful bid for the presidency, and his new role as the wartime leader of a nation under siege by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The film also explores Zelenskyy’s game-changing use of social media and television, which has captivated the world as it watches the defiant response of a country and its president. Zelenskyy: The Man Who Took on Putin was executive produced for ITN Productions by George Waldrum and Ian Rumsey. 

PBS also announced that two Frontline programs, Putin’s Road to War and Putin’s Way, are currently streaming on and the PBS Video app. Putin’s Road to War tells the story of what led to Putin’s war on Ukraine. Veteran filmmaker Michael Kirk and his team examine the events that shaped the Russian leader, the grievances that drive him and how a growing conflict with the West exploded into war in Europe. Putin’s Way is explores the allegations of criminality and corruption that have accompanied Putin’s reign in Russia. For over two decades, Putin accumulated the wealth and power that led to his autocratic rule and the specter of a new Cold War.
Also available for streaming is POV: The Distant Barking of Dogs, which follows the life of 10-year-old Ukrainian boy Oleg over a year, witnessing the gradual erosion of his innocence beneath the pressures of the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine. Having no other place to go, Oleg and his grandmother Alexandra stay and watch as others leave the village, showing just how crucial — and fragile — family is for survival.

The streaming programs are available on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and Vizio. 

Netflix Streaming ‘Servant of the People’ Comedy Starring Beleaguered Ukrainian President Zelenskyy

Netflix has begun streaming the 2015 comedy series “Servant of the People,” which stars former actor/comedian and current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy playing a Ukrainian school teacher, who is unexpectedly elected the country’s president after complaining about government corruption. The series ran until 2019 when Zelenskyy actually entered politics on an anti-corruption platform and was elected to the top position in the country.

Of course, today Zelenskyy finds himself in the crosshairs of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the latter’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. The ongoing war has wreaked havoc on Ukraine, destroyed cities, killed thousands of Ukraine and Russian soldiers, in addition to innocent civilians. Zelenskyy remains defiant surrounded by armed resistance fighters in the capitol of Kyiv.

U.S. President Joe Biden today pledged more military aid to Ukraine, which includes sending 9,000 anti-armor systems, 7,000 small arms, 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 20 million rounds of ammunition, and 100 drones to the country.

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Paramount Global Latest Entertainment Giant to Pull Out of Russia Over Ukraine Invasion

Paramount Global March 15 became the latest Hollywood business to cease all operations in Russia due to the ongoing conflict in neighboring Ukraine. CEO Bob Bakish reportedly disclosed the move in a company memo. The erstwhile ViacomCBS has also donated $1 million in humanitarian aid to those affected by the war.

Bob Bakish

In the memo, Bakish wrote that Paramount is “taking a series of steps to suspend our operations in Russia, including pausing the supply of Paramount Global content. We have announced that Paramount Pictures will pause the theatrical release of our upcoming films in Russia, including The Lost City and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Simon & Schuster has suspended sales to accounts in Russia, along with the licensing of translation rights to Russian publishers.

“Additionally, Paramount Consumer Products will pause all new licensing deals in Russia. Other activity, including the distribution of linear channels and some content licensing, will take more time to pause due to existing contractual, technical and partner complexities.”

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Bakish also wrote that in addition to the corporate donation, “employees are encouraged to directly help those in need as this humanitarian crisis unfolds. Eligible employees in the U.K. and the U.S. can take advantage of the Paramount Matching Program, which we are working to expand to additional international regions (more information will follow shortly).

In addition, we are using our content and capabilities to help those in need, including the power of our global platforms to ensure the world bears witness to this tragedy, as well as to support humanitarian relief efforts. The courageous news teams at CBS News, Channel 5, Chilevision, Network 10, and Telefe have been reporting around the clock from on the ground in Ukraine and neighboring countries.

Channel 5 recently aired a fundraising special, Ukraine: How YOU Can Help, in the U.K. MTVE has initiated a global call to action across linear and social for audiences to donate funds to support relief efforts across several organizations, including World Central Kitchen, International Medical Corps, Save The Children, UN Refugee, UNICEF and more. Our Consumer Products team is donating toys, products, and funds to organizations that are supporting kids and families from Ukraine who are seeking refuge. And, our team is working to quickly bring Ukrainian-language kids’ content to European countries like Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain and France for free on Pluto TV, and to Poland through local Nickelodeon distribution partners. And there’s more underway and to come.”

Sony Pictures, Crunchyroll Join Hollywood’s Russian Business Boycott

Sony Pictures Entertainment has reportedly joined a growing Hollywood ban on all business ventures in Russia due to President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The studio has previously halted the theatrical release of Morbius in Russia.

In a March 11 memo to staff, chairman/CEO Tony Vinciquerra cited the ongoing carnage Russian troops are wreaking on Ukraine cities and civilian populations, leaving thousands dead and millions displaced or forced to flee the country.

“We stand with many businesses around the world who have now paused their business operations in Russia, and in support of the humanitarian efforts currently underway in Ukraine and the surrounding region,” Vinciquerra said.

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The executive said the ban includes planned home entertainment releases such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, any future television distribution deals. Recently acquired Crunchyroll also suspended its anime streaming service in Russia.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with those who have been impacted and it is our hope that a peaceful resolution can be found soon,” Vinciquerra said.

Disney to Pause All Business in Russia in Response to Ukraine Invasion

The Walt Disney Company March 10 announced it would expand its pause of business dealings in Russia in response to the country’s attack on Ukraine. 

“Last week, after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, we announced that we were pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia and reviewing the rest of our businesses there,” said a spokesperson for the Walt Disney Company. “Given the unrelenting assault on Ukraine and the escalating humanitarian crisis, we are taking steps to pause all other businesses in Russia. This includes content and product licensing, Disney Cruise Line activities, National Geographic magazine and tours, local content productions and linear channels.

“Some of those business activities we can and will pause immediately. Others — such as linear channels and some content and product licensing — will take time given contractual complexities.

“Even as we pause these businesses, we remain committed to our dedicated colleagues in Russia, who will remain employed. And we continue to work with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other much-needed assistance to refugees.”

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Amazon Joins Growing Russian Boycott Over Ukraine Invasion

Amazon is ceasing operating its Prime Video streaming service and e-commerce shipments into Russia and neighboring Belarus in response to President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing military invasion of the Ukraine.

Amazon also stopped taking orders from Russians living in the country, in addition to halting access to Amazon Web Services and third-party sellers. The platform will no longer be taking orders for New World, which is the only video game Amazon sells directly in Russia.

New World is a multiplayer online role-playing game developed by Amazon Games Orange County and published by Amazon Games.

Amazon is the latest Western company to sever ties with Russia as Western and Eastern Europe experience the worst military war since World War Two. Notably, Amazon said it currently houses none of its technology within Russia.

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“As a reminder, unlike some other U.S. technology providers, Amazon and AWS have no data centers, infrastructure, or offices in Russia, and we have a long-standing policy of not doing business with the Russian government,” Amazon said in a March 8 media statement.

The Seattle-based behemoth said it is continuing to partner with several nonprofit organizations to support the immense humanitarian needs in the region. Amazon said it has donated $5 million to support thus far.

“We continue to match our employees’ donations, and we’re happy to report that over 10,000 employees have donated to the effort,” said the company. “Tens of thousands of customers around the world have also made donations via our homepages, and we’re making sure those funds get to Save the Children and the Red Cross on the ground.”

WarnerMedia, Discovery Cease All Business Operations in Russia

Warner Bros. Pictures nixing distribution of The Batman in Russia was just the tip of the iceberg. Parent WarnerMedia is reportedly shuttering all business operations in the country (effective today, March 9) in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing military invasion into neighboring Ukraine.

“Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing all new business in Russia,” CEO Jason Kilar wrote in a staff memo. “This includes ceasing broadcast of our channels, halting all new content licensing with Russian entities and pausing our planned theatrical and games releases.”

Separately, Discovery, which is acquiring operational control of WarnerMedia, halted operations of 15 broadcast channels it owns and operates through a joint venture with Russia’s National Media Group.

In addition to joining the global outrage to Putin’s unprovoked military aggression, Discovery and WarnerMedia have joined a growing group of Western media that has ceased operations in Russia due to new government-mandated press restrictions.

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On March 4, Russia’s parliament unanimously voted to punish media organizations reporting news not approved by the Kremlin. Dissemination of so-called “fake news” could be met with a sentence up to 15 years in jail. The new law is aimed at halting news critical of the Ukraine invasion. Putin has called his invasion a “special military operation,” and Russian occupying troops “peacekeepers.”

The censorship law, which is on top of government rules mandating Western media distributors carry 20 Russian government channels, prompted Netflix last week to halt operations in the country.