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'Millions will sign up' says Netflix boss as UK streaming video launches


By Noel Young, Correspondent

January 9, 2012 | 3 min read

Netflix , the video-streaming service, which has been through turbulent times in America recently, will attract millions of subscribers in a few years in the U.K. and Ireland , said CEO Reed Hastings as he talked up the new British and Irish service launched today .

Netflix arrives in the UK

Their main competition is Amazon's Lovefilm which now has two million subscribers in the U.K., Germany,Sweden, Denmark and Norway, up from 900,000 users in early 2008.

Netflix said their service will offer films and TV programmes such as “Top Gear” and “90210” from broadcasters and studios including Disney U.K. & Ireland, the BBC, CBS and Miramax. Netflix admits it will lose money this year because of the U.K. expansion. Other competitors include Channel 4’s 4oD and the BBC’s iPlayer.

“It’s so easy to use Internet television, we’ve got great content and it’s a very low price,” Hastings told Bloomberg Business Week. “Sure 4oD is free, iPlayer is free, Lovefilm is just getting into streaming. There’re a lot of opportunities in the market.”

The Netflix service costs £5.99 a month for unlimited video content in the U.K. and 6.99 euros in Ireland.

Lovefilm offers unlimited film and TV streaming service for an introductory £4.99 per month.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers says the subscription TV market in Europe, Africa and the Middle East will expand 24 percent to $95 billion in the next four years, with Internet-streamed videos likely to be the fastest growing segment.

But Hastings insists they are focused solely on expansion in the U.K. and Ireland right now.

The California-based company became the biggest video-streaming service in the world with more than 20 million members as it powered in early to the US market.

One issue in the UK may be that some of their agreements with broadcasters in the U.K. are not exclusive. The competition can sometimes offer customers the same shows and movies. But Hastings says customers will be attracted to their breadth of content.

In America, Netflix faced a customer revolt in 2011 after it tried to spin off its DVD rentals into a separate business. Hastings abandoned the plan as subscribers quit.

Netflix shares fell more than 50 percent in New York in the last year but, rising again, are now around $86.00.

Last week Lovefilm said it had reached deals to show programmes froms ITVand BBC Worldwide. Netflix, announced a similar deal with the BBC last month and is talkin to ITV about archived shows.


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