Move Over Lovefilm: Netflix Plans UK Launch for 2012

By Megan O'Neill 

Despite a rather difficult few months in which they lost 800,000 U.S. subscribers, Netflix is still one of the top dogs in the world of American film and television show streaming.  They played a big part in the downfall of Blockbuster and have stepped on the toes of other major players like HBO as well.  Now it looks like they’re headed across the Atlantic, to try their luck against UK players like Amazon-owned on-demand service Lovefilm.

According to Sean Poulter of The Daily Mail, “Netflix will offer tens of thousands of films in the UK – including exclusive early access to new films.”  The exact launch date and price details have yet to be announced, but Netflix should go live in Britain and Ireland in early 2012.  This isn’t Netflix’s first international move, but it is their first move outside of North and South America.  They started streaming in Canada back in July of 2010, and in September of this year they opened up their streaming service to the international market in Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Apparently Netflix is still in talks with companies that allow them streaming rights in the United States, including Paramount Pictures, MGM, Lions Gate Entertainment, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group and more in order to obtain rights to show its library of titles in the UK and Ireland.  However, they seem optimistic.

A Netflix spokesperson told The Daily Mail, “Netflix has revolutionized entertainment across the Americas by giving its members a huge selection of films and TV shows to enjoy when and where they want.  Upon launch, Netflix members from the UK and Ireland will be able to instantly watch a wide array of TV shows and films right on their TVs via a range of consumer electronics devices capable of streaming from Netflix, as well as on PCs, Macs and mobile tablets and phones.”

Netflix’s biggest competitor in the UK will be Lovefilm, a streaming and DVD-by-mail service owned by Amazon.  Lovefilm offers their users three DVD rentals a month and two hours of streaming for £5.99.  Unlimited streaming for a month costs £19.95.  This is steep, compared to Netflix’s $7.99 – $9.99 service in the United States.  It will be interesting to see how Lovefilm stacks up.

UK readers—do you subscribe to Lovefilm?  If so, would you consider changing over to Netflix in the coming year?

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.