Netflix bags 1 million subscribers in the UK and Ireland

Netflix' aggressive strategy sees rapid growth in Europe

Internet movie-streaming service Netflix announced today that it has hit the million-subscriber milestone in the United Kingdom and Ireland within seven months of launching in the region, faster than any other region in which it has launched.

A Netflix statement pointed out that this is less time than it took Twitter, Facebook and Fourquare to acquire a million users worldwide, though those services were starting from scratch. Unsurprisingly Netflix neglected to mention Dropbox and Spotify, which gained their millionth subscribers after seven and five months respectively.

Yet the rate of uptake will surely give pause to rival service Lovefilm. The Amazon-owned movie rental site offers DVD rentals by post as well as online streaming to its 2 million subscribers in the UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Netflix only offers DVD rentals in the US.

In an interview given to the UK's The Telegraph newspaper on Saturday, Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings made clear that he continues to see the big-name movie and TV content offered by BSkyB as the main threat to Netflix.

"We will be really aggressive in our bidding [for content]," Reed told The Telegraph. "It may be that we win in the first round. It may be that it takes two or three years, but we're incredibly confident that we will win the bidding for some of Pay 1," Pay 1 being the first window for on demand streaming on a pay per view basis.

The aggressive line on content acquisition follows the aggressive marketing campaign that accompanied the launch of Netflix in the UK and Ireland. "Our international losses are nearly $100m a quarter," Hastings added. "We are investing heavily in acquiring customers but that's what you need to do if you want to take on Sky. Sky is a powerful, formidable competitor."

Netflix plans to expand to Scandinavia before the end of the year.

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