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Netflix expanding to Spain, UK next year

Netflix (s NFLX) might be having trouble keeping its customers happy at home, but that’s not going to slow its international expansion plans. In addition to its plans to expand to 43 countries in Latin America later this year, the company will also launch its streaming service in Spain and the U.K. as early as the first quarter 2012, according to a report in Variety (s enl).

Netflix launched its first international streaming service in Canada last year, and announced an ambitious plan earlier this month to tackle 43 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in the second half of 2011. Now Variety reports Netflix has already approached European film distributors about its plans to expand to the continent.

Interest in Spain and the U.K. markets makes sense, if only because by next year it will have both English and Spanish-language services in place. But unlike its venture to Latin America, where existing streaming operations haven’t taken hold, Netflix could face some stiff competition from existing services in Europe.

Lovefilm, which was bought by Amazon (s amzn) earlier this year, already has a robust streaming service in place in the U.K., Germany and the Nordics (Sweden, Denmark and Norway). And the U.K. market has a number of incumbent TV services that also have a streaming component. Take, for instance, the BBC’s wildly popular iPlayer, or BSkyB’s satellite service, which allows viewers to stream live and on-demand TV over the web and to a growing number of mobile and connected devices.

Meanwhile, in Spain, there are less visible streaming competitors, which could create a lower barrier to entry. But Variety notes the market is also known for being a hotbed of video piracy. At the same time, offering a low-cost alternative is one way Netflix could possibly help studios fight piracy there.

The news that Netflix is being even more aggressive on the international front comes as it faces criticism from existing users in the U.S. The company’s announcement earlier this week that it’s separating its DVD-by-mail and streaming service plans has been met by widespread disapproval. That said, while a number of its existing customers say they might quit, expanding more aggressively in international market could more than make up for slower growth at home.

7 Responses to “Netflix expanding to Spain, UK next year”

  1. “Meanwhile, in Spain, there are less visible streaming competitors… the market is also known for being a hotbed of video piracy”

    Cause and effect, perhaps? Spain is a far less commercially-minded country than the UK and US, meaning that in many areas you literally have to travel 30 miles to the nearest physical DVD retailer, and there’s virtually no legal digital option – Amazon, etc. aren’t allowed to sell digitally in Spain, for example.. No surprise that many don’t bother and go to the pirates who offer them something rather than nothing.

    As a Spanish resident, I’m currently begging for a legal alternative to piracy and most of my physical purchases come from UK imports (meaning that they don’t show as Spanish purchases on the stats).

    I switched to Spotify for music and couldn’t be happier. Netflix has money in my bank waiting for them whenever licence holders let the stream to me.

  2. This is bull&*%$ Netflix starts these rumors whenever their stock is getting crushed. Not one Netflix employee confirmed this but it’s pretty coincidental that this rumor gets started right before they do their earnings call.

  3. If Netflix launches a streaming service in Spain for 8€ a month, it takes all the market; just as Spotify has done. There is no competition. We download films/series from torrent/megavideo because there is NO alternative. Nothing. Rien. Nada.

    • Zaqzyp

      It had a small selection before (some months/years ago I think). Then they removed it completely. Now it’s back, but a much smaller selection (120 movies!) and it’s beta.
      You can find it if you click “my account”.