Netflix launches in the UK

The battle between TV on demand and online films just got a whole lot more interesting, Netflix, the leading US player that boasts a membership of 24m has just launched its new streaming service to the UK and Ireland for £5.99 a month.

Subscribers will get access to a huge raft of content, thanks to the deal it has struck with Miramax, Momentum and MGM, as well as with TV providers in Britain such as Channel 4, ITV and the BBC. Effectively, the viewers will be able to watch practically anything from the Inbetweeners to Pirate of the Caribbean.

Netflix are banking on replicating their US success, where it has a listing on the Nasdaq and has a stock market value of almost $5bn, or £3.24bn. The UK market is unlike the US however, it is highly competitive and doesn’t enjoy first mover advantage. As a result, Netflix are offering a free month subscription to all users in the UK in an attempt to woo them into subscribing.

The CE of Netflix, Reed Hastings, flew to London for the launch, and claimed that he didn’t see LoveFilm, the established UK online player, as a serious rival. However, just like the sharp elbowed veteran of Silicon Valley that he is, Mr Hastings then went on to spend most of the time during his interview with the Independent criticising LoveFilm.

He said that many were saying that this was a LoveFilm Vs Netflix battle, but in reality LoveFilm were just a DVD by post service who then started streaming. The real battle was the one where Netflix and LoveFilm are competing against Sky Atlantic and Sky Movies. He does make a fair point when he says that Sky is the bigger competitor, but dismissing LoveFilm as just a DVD by post company is rather cheeky.