NETFLIX is set to enter a bidding war with Sky for the rights to be the first to broadcast top-
rated movies and TV shows as the US company opens its service in Ireland.
The US firm, which streams films and TV programmes to customers over the internet, launched on Monday and company chief executive Reed Hastings confirmed yesterday that his firm would take on Sky.
"We would regard Sky Movies and the likes of Sky Atlantic as our main competitors in this market," he said.
The point was driven home by content acquisition head Ted Sarandos, who said Netflix had the cash to compete with Sky when negotiating broadcast rights with the major Hollywood studios.
"In the US we have competed successfully with Time Warner which owns HBO and is a very deep-pocketed competitor for content and subscribers," he said.
Both men were speaking as Netflix launched its service in the Republic. The service allows customers to access the firm's range of films and programmes across a wide range of formats, including PC/Mac, smartphones and PlayStation 3. The service costs €6.99 a month.
While there has been criticism of what is seen as the limited selection of films available on the site at present, Mr Sarandos said the range would grow quickly.
"This is the smallest selection you will ever see on Netflix Ireland. In Canada the selection doubled within a year of launching so we are very confident in our range," he said.
Mr Hastings wouldn't be drawn on how many subscribers he was hoping to secure here, except to say the company was planning for "millions" of subscriptions across the UK and Ireland.
Netflix has had a difficult year in the US, with the share price dropping by almost two-thirds since July amid falling subscription numbers domestically, but Mr Hastings dismissed any suggestion that the company was setting up here on the back of those struggles.
"We've been planning this launch for nearly a year so that really had no part to play in it," he said.
He also dismissed takeover speculation that had seen the company's stock climb more than 13pc in New York yesterday. "As a public company, there will always be this speculation but we just ignore it," he said.