Netflix has announced they they will launch their streaming service in the United Kingdom and Ireland in "early 2012." It appears that they are only bringing streaming movies and TV shows across the pond, as there is no mention of DVDs in the press release. Information on prices, content availability and firm launch dates are all forthcoming, per the release.
This news of Netflix's first overseas launch continues an aggressive international expansion: In September 2011 Netflix began rolling out service to Mexico, Brazil and 41 other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean; Canada got their Netflix in 2010, and this appears to be the beginning of the long-rumored European expansion of Netflix that was supposed to start in Spain in 2012.
Many news outlets have noted that the UK and Ireland already have a major streaming service, a website owned by Amazon called LoveFilm. LoveFilm offers both streaming and DVD rental by mail and has almost 2 million paying users; it will be interesting to see how Netflix attracts customers, especially without a DVD option.
Netflix enters the UK market in the same position as Amazon's Prime streaming service in the United States: an underdog going up against a well-established leader. No stranger to adversity after a summer of poorly received price hikes and quickly abandoned service splits, Netflix will hope for a warmer reception in the UK and Ireland than they have received for the last several months in America.