Movie streaming service Netflix has announced that it will expand to the United Kingdom and Ireland in early 2012.
The service will offer unlimited TV shows and films streaming instantly over the Internet to mobile and tablet devices for an undisclosed monthly subscription fee, as well as on PCs, Macs and TVs.
Further details about the service, including pricing, content and supported devices, will be announced closer to launch. In the US, the service is available on Apple's iPhone and iPad and has deals with Apple TV and Google TV, as well as being available across the latest game consoles.
Netflix has been streaming to US members since 2007, adding Canada in 2010 and 43 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in September 2011.
People interested in becoming members of Netflix in the UK or Ireland can go to www.netflix.com to sign up to receive an email alert letting them know when Netflix has launched.
Nick Thomas, principal analyst for TV & digital media at Informa Telecoms & Media, said: 'Netflix’s plans for global expansion, following its expansion into Latin America, continue at an impressively rapid pace. Its first European launch, in Spain, is now scheduled for January, with the UK is to follow 'in early 2012'. The UK market for paid video delivered via IP is still essentially nascent, although it is no coincidence that the two best-placed local players, Lovefilm and Blinkbox, are backed by major retailers (Amazon and Tesco respectively). Does Netflix have the will, the funds, and the content to compete with them, and with Europe’s most successful Pay TV operator, BSkyB? Netflix’s success in acquiring paying subscribers in the US is unarguable, but the UK will be a harder nut to crack.
'Netflix has been a great disrupter in the US market, shaking up a complacent industry through a smart focus on the customer experience (although that has been tarnished by recent events). But in the UK, local rivals will prove tougher competition in the near term, especially with BSkyB having a large audience of movie fans and a large library of US content, and with Lovefilm having more than 1 million subscribers to its DVD rental business. Netflix’s success in the UK will depend not on its reputation, but on its catalogue, and its ability to quickly get onto consumer-facing platforms, such as Virgin Media, the upcoming YouView, and games consoles
'Netflix is very unlikely to dominate the UK market but it may shake it up. The endless wrangling and delays around the YouView platform contrast strikingly with Netflix’s rapid ascent and now its global rollout. In the short term Netflix may be the catalyst that accelerates the rollout of IP-delivered premium content to UK audiences, but it may not itself be the main beneficiary of that trend,' concluded Thomas.