Netflix UK, Ireland Service to Challenge Lovefilm

Netflix’s latest move in an attempt to bounce back from its failed "Qwikster" promotion is the expansion of streaming services into the United Kingdom and Ireland’s movie market.

Users with high-speed Internet connections in Ireland and the U.K. will be able to watch Netflix’s plethora of movies and TV shows for about $9 USD per month, The AP shared. It charges $8 USD before taxes in the U.S.

However, the company will face competition as it tries to win over the European audience. Lovefilm, an Internet video service owned by Amazon, charges only $7.73 USD per month, and already has 2 million European subscribers.

Netflix currently has a much broader worldwide base with 20 million U.S. customers and 1.5 million subscribers from Canada and Latin America. However, the company’s attempt to split its product into separate online streaming and mail services, “dubbed “Qwikster,” has damaged the its image.

Netflix also lost about 800,000 American customers after it announced a 60 percent price increase for its combined streaming and DVD rental services. The cost of the expansion into Europe, along with the subscriber exodus is projected to make 2011 the first year of financial loss for Netflix, which had an annual profit gain every year since 2002.

Netflix’s chief executive, Reed Hastings, shared with The Telegraph that he does not expect Lovefilm to pose as big of a challenge as expected to his company:

“We offer a much better user experience than Lovefilm with HD video streams available. We are on more platforms, such as Nintendo Wii and we have a broader content offering.”

Netflix has also made deals with British programming ITV and Channel 4, as well as BBC Worldwide and MGM films. This will allow it to stream entire seasons of shows such as Torchwood, Fawlty Towers, The Inbetweeners and Coronation Street.