Netflix Launches in the U.K. and Ireland With Hollywood Fare to Tempt Subscribers

4:37 AM PST 01/09/2012 by Stuart Kemp
James Fisher/Warner Bros. Pictures as supplied by flicks.co.nz
'The Hobbit' to lure U.K. subscribers to Netflix

UPDATED: The streaming video service will take on Amazon.com's LoveFilm luring subscribers with film and TV hits such as "The Hobbit," "Breaking Bad" and "The Expendables" and cost 5.99 pounds a month in the U.K.

LONDON – Team Netflix landed in the British capital for the formal launch of its online streaming video service here Monday with all guns blazing and a monthly subscription fee of £5.99 ($8) for unlimited content.

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos told The Hollywood Reporter that the company is launching in the U.K. as part of its push to become a truly global streaming company.

But he said that plans for the service to rollout in other European territories have being put on hold “until Netflix has been brought back to global profitability.”

Sarandos said in the U.K. the company could hit profitability in two years “or more” but said any threshold targets for subscriber levels remain confidential.

The company is certainly throwing big bucks at the U.K. launch and is initially offering everyone in the U.K. a free one month trial subscription.

“We hope we’ll get high levels of conversions from trial subscribers to monthly subscription fee members,” Sarandos said.

The company has sealed a slew of deals for “more content than you could watch before you die” with a host of providers including television content from Walt Disney U.K. and Ireland, the BBC and commercial web ITV.

Sarandos said over the course of 2012 Netflix will spend a projected $2 billion on content globally to feed its service.

Among the plans for original content bankrolled by Netflix is a fresh series of Arrested Development for the stream, working with Ron Howard and Brian Glazer to make it five years after the third and final series aired.

Also on the roster is a  U.S.-set remake of 1990s cult British political thriller House of Cards, with Kevin Spacey as a slippery U.S. political adviser.

Sarandos told THR the deals to bring such original backed projects to all Netflix operating territories are not finalized which means such content might not be available in the U.K., Canada or Latin American territories.

Netflix has sealed a mix-and-match variety of content deals including first, second and after pay TV windows for a slew of films and television programs.

Among the big draws on the British service later this year will be a chance for subscribers to stream the much-anticipated Peter Jackson-directed The Hobbit via its first window deal with MGM and The Expendables via its deal with Lionsgate.

The service, which puts simplicity at its heart, allows users to access Netflix content on computers and on TV sets via a range of Internet-connected devices, such as smart TVs, game consoles, Blu-ray players, tablets and mobile phones.

The plan for the U.K. is to offer "a wide array of Hollywood, local and global film and TV content,” which Sarandos hopes will prove to be "high engagement caliber.”

TV series available for streaming range from Breaking Bad, 24, 90210 and U.K. favorites such as The Only Way is Essex, Top Gear, The Inbetweeners and Torchwood.

The offering, price level and ease of use, Netflix says, makes its entry into the already crowded U.K. market an attractive one and will challenge Amazon.com's popular LoveFilm service here.

 

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