Netflix has signed a licensing deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, giving the online video company exclusive rights to stream MGM movies in the U.K. and Ireland.
The service will be available from early 2012. The deal will give U.K. Netflix users access to MGM titles, such as Peter Jackson’s upcoming Hobbit movies. These films will be available within one year of their theatrical release, the company claims.
Viewers will also be able to access older MGM titles, such as Fargo, The Usual Suspects, West Side Story, and The Amityville Horror, Netflix says in a press release.
The deal, signed on Monday, is one of several salvos from Netflix into the U.K. and Irish markets. The Guardian reports that Netflix is also in "advanced talks" with Britain’s largest commercial broadcaster, ITV. If that deal closes, Netflix users would have access to ITV’s archive of films and TV programs.
The Guardian quotes an unnamed source who says the deal would be advantageous to both parties. "For Netflix, a deal would mean a huge marketing partner to help its U.K. ambitions,” the source said, “and for ITV it fits with their strategy of building pay revenue.”
ITV has not confirmed the deal, however. “Part of ITV’s five-year transformation plan is to look at exploiting our content across multiple platforms, free and pay,” an ITV spokeswoman told New Media Age. “As you’d expect, we talk to a number of parties about the best ways to do this. There is nothing to announce at this time.”
The Financial Times reports that Netflix has had a tough time of it recently. Company stock has dropped 70 percent in recent months following a botched rebranding and price rise. An international expansion into the U.K. and Ireland could take the company into the red, the FT writes.
If the ITV deal doesn’t come through, the online streaming service may also find it hard to get a foothold in the U.K. Netflix’s rival, the on-demand video service Hulu, failed to break into the U.K. market in 2009 after talks with ITV collapsed.