Netflix's Upcoming U.K. Debut Shows Content Challenges for Company Abroad

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Amid its push into international markets, Netflix may find itself boxed out of the most coveted content in the U.K., Bloomberg News reported.

Netflix is facing the challenge of getting digital rights from powerful TV players, such as Channel 4, the BBC, BSkyB and ITV, which own most of their content and have their own streaming services, it said. U.K. consumers can also already use a competing streaming services from Amazon.com’s Lovefilm unit.

Netflix plans to launch in the U.K. and Ireland in early 2012. Importantly, a content deal with broadcaster ITV probably won’t include the most recent episodes of such hit shows as Downton Abbey, a source familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. A BBC deal this week gave Netflix access to such popular series as Top Gear, but only six months after they air.

“Broadcasters are controlling a lot of the premium, online, video-on-demand business in the U.K.,” said Rio Caraeff, CEO of video streaming company Vevo. “They’re able to protect their television business by packaging it with their online business.”

“The U.K. is a competitive market, and we look forward to offering the people of the U.K. and Ireland a great service with fantastic content and ease of use,” a Netflix spokesman told Bloomberg.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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