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Netflix launched an online TV and film subscription service in the UK and Ireland yesterday.

The US firm is giving broadband customers the opportunity to access a range of television shows and movies over the internet, for a flat monthly fee of £5.99.

Subscribers will be able to download content via a range of consumer devices, including laptops, web-enabled TVs, media tablets and games consoles.

Netflix already offers the service in 47 countries around the world, and has more than 20 million customers worldwide.

A spokesperson for the company explained that a broadband connection is a pre-requisite for the service.

"The whole thing is to be able to watch unlimited television or films when and where you want to watch them," she noted.

Netflix already has contracts with the BBC, Miramax, Lionsgate and MGM and is said to be close to agreeing terms with a number of other broadcasters and publishers.

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