It looks like Netflix
The company just announced streaming services for the U.K. and Ireland in "early 2012." It's a cost center at first, because Netflix never plans to make money right away in virgin territories abroad. Besides setting up the infrastructure necessary to serve up digital movies in a timely and reliable manner, Netflix also has to secure content licenses for the new market.
This looks like a very soft launch. Netflix isn't ready to tantalize the Brits with hints of the content to come. We might hear a detail or two tonight as Netflix reports earnings, but I'd be surprised if there's much time left over for questions like that after discussing a summer's worth of mistakes -- some real problems, some PR blunders.
For the first time, Netflix is going up against incumbent streaming services in the U.K. Amazon.com
Netflix's Canadian service rolled out about a year ago, followed by its recent expansion into 43 territories in the Caribbean and Latin America. Spain was supposed to come next, but maybe that troubled market needs some more TLC to get ready, so the Brits jumped ahead. And then there's the rest of Western Europe, the suddenly burgeoning Eastern European bloc, and of course the densely populated, technologically sophisticated nations of Southeast Asia. That leaves Netflix with a lot of worthwhile real estate to cover.
If Netflix still negotiates licenses one territory at a time, this global conquest might take a while. But if Walt Disney
So how Netflix moves ahead from this point will tell us something about the nature of those content deals. This particular expansion is different because the expiring Starz deal gives Netflix some spare cash to reallocate.
Whether you love Netflix or hate it, the company's ever-shifting strategy never leaves you yawning. What will CEO Reed Hastings think of next? Our watchlist feature will help you stay on top of it all. Add Netflix to your own watchlist by clicking here, and don't dawdle -- you wouldn't want to miss tonight's earnings news, now would you?