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Sacrebleu! Netflix expansion will boost Europe to a fifth of members?

Netflix is launching in six European countries in September, and researcher IHS estimates it will pad the company's 50 million subscribers with as many as 6 million new ones almost immediately.

Joan E. Solsman/CNET

By the end of the year, Netflix's customer base will have a new European flair.

Researcher IHS estimated Thursday that Netflix's expansion into mainland Europe in September will add 5 million to 6 million new subscribers, which would represent a fifth of its total subscribers at that point.

That falls at the optimistic end of what Wall Street analysts are predicting. JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth, who rates Netflix's stock positively, expects the company to gain about 5 million subscribers in the new markets by the end of the year. Michael Pachter of Wedbush, who is negative on the stock, expects 4.15 million new international members in the second half -- including all those gained in countries where Netflix already has a presence.

The streaming-video company has made international growth one of its top priorities, and even before the big rollout in September, the focus has been paying off. It added 1.1 million international members in the latest quarter, compared to the 570,000 new domestic streaming customers it gained. It's an essential tactic for Netflix to keep its growth rate high in the coming years as its services pervade the US and, thus, are more challenging to grow briskly at home.

Combined with growth in European markets where it already operates -- UK, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands -- IHS projected the streaming service will add 8 million new subscribers to its European rolls by the end of 2018.

The company had 13.8 million international streaming subscribers as of the middle of this year, contributing to its 50 million total streaming membership. In addition to the handful of European countries it already operates in, Netflix also blankets Latin America.