Netflix set to launch stream-only service in Canada

Netflix is expanding north of the border – can the rest of the world be far behind?

Netflix is growing.

Earlier this year, Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings hinted that Netflix – a DVD rental service founded way back in 1997 – was mulling a move abroad. "The big market for Hollywood content [after the US] is Europe," Hastings said. "Third is Asia. Fourth is the rest of the world. Canada is and was an option. It's sort of international-lite."

This week comes news that Netflix is planning its first foreign expansion. According to Reuters, Hastings will announce today that Netflix is launching an online video streaming service in Canada; no physical DVD delivery service is planned yet.

"Canada will serve as the test bed for the service before it expands to additional foreign markets," says ReadWriteWeb's Sarah Perez, who participated in a conference call with Netflix execs. "The company will determine whether or not there's opportunity for other countries based on its Canadian performance."

Netflix has faced heightened competition in recent months from other streaming video services such as Hulu – which recently launched a premium Hulu Plus subscription service – and HBO GO. This spring, Netflix announced it had reached a deal that would delay the availability of new releases from Universal and Twentieth Century Fox for at least a month after the official DVD release date.

In exchange, Fox and Universal agreed to provide more content to Netflix.

More recently, Netflix has released an app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, which allows Apple users to remotely access the Netflix streaming library. The application is free, but requires a Netflix membership – rates in the US start at nine bucks a month. The move is a savvy one: As high speed Wi-Fi access become more widespread, demand for media streaming applications has grown.

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