Netflix bringing streaming to UK and Ireland in early 2012

Netflix has announced it will be launching its streaming TV and movie service in the UK and Ireland in early 2012, offering on-demand video for a monthly fee rather than on a per-title basis. Already operational in North America, Netflix allows PC and Macs, many standalone internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players, smartphones, tablets and other devices to access its streaming media catalog. The company has faced criticism in recent weeks over abandoned plans to split its DVD business under a new brand.

In an attempt to better differentiate between legacy physical media rentals and the new digital content delivery, Netflix planned to spin off the disc-based business under the new name Qwikster. Subscribers to both types of service would be billed separately and forced to manage their rental queues and accounts on two separate sites. However, user uproar caused Netflix to backtrack on the Qwikster scheme.

DVD rentals won't even make it to the UK and Ireland in Netflix's new system; instead, the company will focus entirely on streamed content. Pricing and supported devices, as well as a specific launch date, will be announced closer to the service going live, Netflix has said.

The company will face competition from Amazon-owned LoveFilm, which already offers streamed TV and movie content, along with start-up VDIO. Google is believed to be looking at a subscription-based streaming service for European markets as well.