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Netflix queues up launches in Germany, France

Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg will also get the streaming service later this year, in the company's biggest push into mainland Europe.

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Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
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Netflix will launch in Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg this year, a previously announced but undetailed expansion into one of the most Internet-connected parts of the world -- mainland Europe.

The streaming-video company has made international growth one of its top priorities, 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 difficult to grow briskly at home. Analysts have noted the market opportunity in the biggest European countries rivals that of the US, and unlike the majority of the international regions Netflix has entered previously, those on the European road map are abundant with high-speed broadband users.

Netflix's international push has been yielding results. In the most recent quarter, its international streaming membership grew 76 percent, while the number of domestic streaming subscribers was up 22 percent. The company also said its current international operations are on track to become profitable this year, but because of the expansion into Europe in the second half, the segment as a whole will continue to report a loss in 2014.

Outside data suggest Netflix's push into big European countries like Germany and France will raise its usage significantly. Right now Netflix accounts for only about 3.2 percent of European peak downstream traffic, but it is the second largest source of peak traffic in the UK and Ireland, where it has operated since 2012, according to an analysis last week from Sandvine, which runs fixed and mobile data networks worldwide and reports on what is taking place on them. In those countries, it's a close second to Google's YouTube.

Previously, Netflix said in an annual report that "a substantial expansion" in Europe would occur in late 2014. The company already operates in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands in Europe, and it blankets Latin America.

Residents of France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg interested in subscribing can go to netflix.com to sign up for an e-mail alert when Netflix has launched in their country. Netflix didn't provide any further timing details for the expansion.

Its shares closed Tuesday up $7.17, or about 2 percent, at $371.67.