Netflix’s popular video streaming service is launching today in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Pricing the service at £5.99 in the UK and €6.99 in Ireland, the service is competing with Lovefilm. Lovefilm currently operates a DVD-by-mail and video streaming service which operates in a number of European countries (Ireland is not one of them). Lovefilm is based out of the UK and is owned by Amazon.
Netflix competitively priced its offering versus Lovefilm. Lovefilm’s £5.99 plan lets you receive 3 DVDs a month (one at a time) and two hours of streaming. To get unlimited video streaming on Lovefilm it costs £9.99 per month, but it also includes unlimited DVDs with three out at a time. Update: According to the Verge, Lovefilm has responded with a £4.99 unlimited streaming-only plan. Game on!
Netflix states that there are “tens of thousands” of hours of video to stream from a number of studios. Even if Netflix has secured the rights to stream a film in the United States, it does not automatically give them the rights to stream it in another country. I would speculate that the UK & IE catalog is smaller than the US one at the moment since Netflix is promising that, “in the coming months, more great films and TV programmes will be added…”.
It appears that Netflix is launching with its full set of features in the UK and Ireland including HD video, Dolby Digital Plus surround sound, “Just For Kids” and seamless social sharing with Facebook. There is pending legislation in Congress that’s required before this functionality can be made available in the United States.
One of the surprising parts of the announcement is the small number of devices Netflix streaming will initially be available on. In the United States, there are hundreds of connected TVs, Blu-ray players, video game consoles and streaming players that can stream Netflix. The list in the UK is much more limited. While the popular game consoles are covered, there is a relatively small list of Blu-ray and streaming players (the Roku is included). Most of the players that can stream in the UK and Ireland are pictured below:
Update: Roku has announced the availability of their players in the UK and Ireland. They plan to start shipping in early February.