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A study of the global flow of US-based SVODs, and their absence or presence within domestic media ecosystems, allows us to move beyond universalist approaches in platform studies. Starting with an analysis of the politics of Netflix’s absence from Iran’s media landscape, this article studies the contribution of domestic SVODs to the diversification of the Iranian movie culture. It argues that filtering Netflix in Iran is part of a long history of content regulation and the state’s plan to support local platforms. The dynamic informal circulation networks in Iran also pose challenges for foreign SVODs.

Focusing on domestic platforms like Filimo, the article argues that they became part of a national project to battle piracy domestically. Iran’s laws as a non-signatory of international treaties on intellectual property, however, allow them to acquire foreign films through informal markets, situating these platforms in an ambiguous state in between formal and informal services.

In: Studies in World Cinema