Netflix has brought its streaming video to the United Kingdom and Ireland, marking a new challenge to Amazon and its competing Lovefilm service.
The service costs 5.99 pounds ($9.24) per month in the U.K. and 6.99 euros ($8.88) per month in Ireland, Netflix said today.
Expanding internationally is not simple, because content providers such as TV and movie studios require new deals for new geographic regions. Netflix has been bulking up its distribution deals in recent months, and now it's got a sizable list of allies for Ireland and the U.K.: All3Media, the BBC, CBS, Channel 4's 4oD, Disney UK & Ireland, ITV, Lionsgate UK, MGM, Miramax, Momentum Pictures, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, and Viacom International Media Networks.
Some content includes U.K. favorites such as "Top Gear." But the United States is the dominant content engine in the English-speaking world, so there are also plenty of titles from the New World such as "Breaking Bad," "24," and "Beverly Hills, 90210."
Netflix got its start as a DVD rental service that used the mail, but it's steadily expanding to online streaming video. In the fourth quarter, streamed more than 2 billion hours of video to customers.
The company's biggest rival in the U.K. is Lovefilm, which unlike Netflix also offers DVDs by mail with its subscription plans. Amazon acquired Lovefilm in January 2011, and Lovefilm has been working on streaming-video content deals, too.
Netflix, though, has a strong presence in the consumer-electronics world. Its streaming-video service can be seen on game consoles including the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii; TVs from Samsung; Blue-ray players and home theater systems from LG; iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets; personal computers; and more.