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Netflix goes global, but without the red envelopes

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(Read caption) Netflix counts 12 million subscribers in the US. Now, it is seeking to expand its reach.

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Netflix has already conquered rent-by-mail in the US. Next up? The international market.

That's the news today from Reuters, which reports that Netflix will unveil a streaming-only service in an as-yet-unnamed country. Back in 2005, of course, Netflix signaled that it would move into Canada and the UK, but the expansion was cut short so the company could focus on US sales. At the time, Netflix said it had scaled back plans due to a (now-defunct) movie service from Wal-Mart.

Now, with things pretty much sealed up in this part of the world, Netflix is ready to give it another go. In an interview with Reuters, Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings dropped some hints about the locales Netflix is considering. "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."

Still, Hastings was clear about one thing: Netflix has no plans to over-extend itself. That means no multi-country campaign – a risk for even a service as well-oiled as Netflix. "We are focused on entering one country and seeing how we do. Because we are launching in the second half of the year I don't think we could do a second country this year," Hastings said.

It's been a good couple of years for Netflix, which has focused on improving its video streaming services. The Nintendo Wii is the latest to join a long list of devices – the Sony PS3, the Microsoft Xbox 360, and LG and Samsung Blu-ray players, among others – that offer access to the substantial Netflix online catalog.

The success of the streaming operations – combined with the recent news that Netflix has more than 12 million subscribers to the rent-by-mail service – helped lift Netflix shares by 14 percent in after-hours trading on Wednesday, according to USA Today.

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