Netflix plans 2012 launch for piracy-plagued Spain

netflixThe rumors that Netflix was heading overseas to Europe seem to be confirmed. Spain will be getting first crack at the streaming and DVD rental service, though there’s no confirmation on whether Netflix will be heading to the UK as well.

The Spanish expansion was confirmed by Screen Daily in an interview with Pedro Perez, the president of the local producers’ association FAPAE. Perez revealed that Netflix was already chumming it up with several film studios in preparation for the launch.

“Netflix has already broken into the US market gaining 26 million subscribers so far and they expect to have 30 million before the end of the year who are paying between 8 and 10 dollars a month,” Perez told Screen Daily.

Netflix’ international expansion plan started with Canada and branched out to 43 countries spread out across South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. It was suspected that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had hinted at the European campaign back in April when he told investors they were going to tap a third international market after the success of a second international market.

Analysts have pointed out that there is stiffer competition for Netflix in the UK, but Spain is quite notorious for piracy. The country has a top spot on the International Intellectual Property Alliance piracy watchlist with an annual number of 400 million illegal downloads.

The move will be a test for Netflix on whether quality legal downloads for low subscription will trump the appeal of free. Spain has a record high eurozone unemployment rate of 20%, and only 100 million tickets were sold for movies last year. Though rivals may be scant Netflix will also have to contend with Voddler, a Swedish film and TV service modeled after Spotify. The site is already well established in Spain and offers 80% of its content for free. On the plus side, tighter piracy law in Europe may make the campaign a little easier. Netflix spokespeople have declined to comment on the campaign.

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