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Netflix Launches Video Streaming Service In Canada

Netflix has launched its online video streaming service in Canada, taking its first step in the international market by offering movies and TV shows for less than what the company charges in the U.S.

The movie subscription company said Wednesday that Canadians can get unlimited access to Netflix's library for $7.99 a month, which is a dollar less than the U.S. price. The Canadian launch marks the first time Netflix has made the service available outside the United States.

Netflix also announced Canadian licensing agreements with major Hollywood studios, including Lionsgate, MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Pictures. In addition, the company has struck deals with Canadian distributors Alliance Films, Maple Pictures, eOne and Mongrel.

Despite the licensing agreements, Netflix's availability of new movies shortly after they are released on DVD remains spotty. Most major studios hold back the release of movies to streaming services in order to avoid cutting into the more profitable DVD business.

However, the growing popularity of streaming movie services has convinced movie studios to loosen up slowly. Netflix in April announced a deal with Universal Studios and Twentieth Century Fox to get some new movies 28 days after they are available on DVD. While limited, the deal is an improvement over the months, and sometimes years, that Netflix has had to wait before getting many popular movies.

In July, Netflix signed a deal with studio Relativity Media to get some movies before they are shown on pay TV, which usually gets priority. The deal covered only some of the studio's movies and it wasn't clear which ones. Relativity's recent major releases included "Robin Hood," starring Russell Crowe, and "Grown Ups," starting Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade and Rob Schneider.

To expand its online video service, Netflix is focused on partnerships with consumer electronics makers. The service is available through the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3 video game consoles and Blu-ray disc players from Samsung and Toshiba. Later this fall, the Netflix service will be available through Microsoft's Xbox 360 console. Netflix also has released applications for Apple's iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Netflix is not alone in streaming movies and TV shows. Competitors include Hulu, which recently launched a premium Hulu Plus subscription service, and Home Box Office's HBO Go.


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