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Netflix streaming coming to UK, Ireland in early 2012

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Netflix announced today its movie and television streaming service will be available to customers in the UK and Ireland early next year. The move is the latest international expansion for Netflix, which has offered streaming services to subscribers in the US and Canada since 2007.

Those interested in enrolling in the upcoming service may visit Netflix’s website to sign up for an email alert, which will let them know when Netflix is available in their country, according to the company’s official announcement.

Netflix is by far the most popular video streaming service in the United States, and currently serves a total of more than 25 million subscribers in the US, Canada and Latin America. But you wouldn’t know that by reading a recent string of bad news and missteps by the company.

Trouble started for Netflix this past July, when the company announced that it would be dividing its streaming and DVD plans, the least expensive of which cost $9.99, and requiring subscribers to sign up for the two services individually, at a price of $7.99 apiece.

While the move was simply the first step from Netflix to divide its streaming and mail-order DVD rental services – which Netflix later described as two entirely separate businesses – customers simply saw it as a 60 percent price hike (it now costs about $16 per month for DVD and streaming). The inevitable revolt began, and the company later said that it expected to lose about 1 million subscribers over the change in pricing.

Netflix may have recovered with only a flesh wound had that been the end of its stumbles. Unfortunately for the company (and shareholders), Netflix soon after announce that it would be splitting off its DVD rental business entirely, and relaunching under the new name Qwikster.

Once again, customers hated the change. And the backlash was so severe that Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings was forced to announce, less than a month later, that it would cancel its plans to launch Qwikster, and keep both streaming and DVD services under the same name.

All in all, it has been a rough ride for Neflix over the past three months. Perhaps a fresh start in new regions is exactly what the company needs to get itself back on track.