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Netflix looks to build international audience with expansion into 6 more European countries

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SAN FRANCISCO - Netflix will expand into Germany, France and four other European countries later this year as the Internet video service tries to build an international following that might eventually surpass its U.S. audience.

The additional markets announced Wednesday will extend Netflix's reach into nearly 50 countries, including 13 in Europe. Besides Germany and France, the latest countries on Netflix's list are Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg. The Los Gatos, California, company entered Europe in 2012 when its Internet video service debuted in the U.K. and Ireland.

Earlier this year, Netflix Inc. disclosed its plans to sell its service in more European countries without identifying where they would be.

The company still isn't saying which month its service will be available in the new markets or how much it will cost. Netflix recently raised its Internet streaming prices for new customers by about $1 per month around the world. With the increase, Netflix charges $9 per month for unlimited video streaming in the U.S. The company froze rates at $8 per month for two years for subscribers before the May 9 increase.

Netflix ended March with 35.7 million U.S. subscribers and an additional 12.7 million customers in the rest of the world. The company has set a long-term goal of 60 million to 90 million U.S. subscribers and more than 100 million internationally.

The overseas push has been costly so far for Netflix, which has amassed international losses exceeding $800 million since it ventured outside the U.S. for the first time in 2010. The company's U.S. operations, including a steadily shrinking DVD-by-mail service, have continued to churn out profits that so far have more than offset the international losses.

Last year, for instance, Netflix earned $112 million despite sustaining $274 million in international losses.

Netflix expects to start eking out a profit in its existing overseas markets by the end of this year.

Its shares rose $9.72, or 2.6 per cent, to $381.39 in midday trading Wednesday. Its shares have risen about 1 per cent so far this year.

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