LONDON: Netflix has announced partnerships with film studios and Britain's state broadcaster ahead of its planned expansion into the UK market.

Under the terms of the new deal, the online service will offer streams of BBC shows to its users in Britain and Ireland for a period of up to six months after they are originally broadcast.

The deal is the latest UK media partnership forged by Netflix. The firm's other distribution partners include film studios Miramax and Lionsgate.

Netflix's planned move into the British market will put it in direct competition with rival subscription services including LoveFilm, owned by Amazon. It also competes with free-to-view, ad-supported video platforms such as YouTube and Hulu.

Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, said: "BBC programmes are a big favourite of our ... streaming members in the US, Canada and Latin America."

Netflix's BBC agreement is non-exclusive, meaning the BBC is free to distribute content with other subscription services.

BBC Worldwide has also previously agreed distribution deals with a variety of other online video players, including Virgin Media and BT Vision. Viewers in the UK can already access online streams of BBC shows for free via the broadcaster's own iPlayer service.

Netflix's worldwide subscriber base grew from 12.27m in 2009 to 20.01m in 2010, according to its own figures.

The company plans to launch in the UK and Ireland in early 2012.

Data sourced from Netflix/The Guardian; additional content by Warc staff