It feels like Christmas all over again.
It was only Friday that the Netflix application got us all excited by showing up on the PS3 XMB. Though we were hopeful that this meant a UK and Ireland launch was just around the corner, we were careful not to get too excited. After all, the app also included the option to sign up for updates and a notification as to when the service would become available. Why include this feature if the launch was practically on top of us? Today, however, Netflix surprised us with a nice morning launch. That's right, amidst all the stress and product launches of CES, Netflix has finally pushed its way into the UK and Ireland market.
"Today we're bringing Netflix to the UK and Ireland," said Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer at Netflix. "I'm proud to have led the product team that brings Netflix to the country where I grew up, after spending most of my career in California."
Today's launch also represents the first time we've heard anything about regional pricing for the UK and Irish markets. The company's streaming-only package costs £5.99 per month for customers in the United Kingdom, or €6.99 for those residing in Ireland. The first month is free for new users (which is everybody), so you'll have a chance to try before you buy. Unfortunately, the company has elected not to bring its DVD rental service to our fair isles and there's no indication as to why. Netflix previously offered U.S. customers both streaming and DVD rental services all wrapped up in one tidy package, but that sweet $9.99 deal ended last summer. Our cousins in the States can still get both packages separately from Netflix if they wish to do so, they just have to pay a bit extra for each. The new prices see customers charged $7.99/month for unlimited streaming (no DVDs) and $7.99/month for unlimited DVDs (one out at-a-time).
Along with these price changes came a blog post from CES Reed Hastings, who announced plans to change the name of the DVD rental service from Netflix to Qwikster and to split it from Netflix's streaming operations. His reason for the split and the rebranding were one and the same: The DVD and streaming businesses were too different to be lumped together any longer. After considerable backlash from users, Netflix abandoned its Qwikster plans but Reed's words are still ringing in our ears. Could the reason for the lack of UK DVD rentals be because Netflix is quietly trying to pull away from that business? Could Netflix be planning an additional product launch for its DVD rental service? Only time will tell ...
Will you be signing up for Netflix or is the absence of DVD rentals enough to put you off? Let us know in the comments below!