BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian telecom operator Belgacom will begin distributing the content of Netflix this year after striking a deal with the U.S. video streaming service which launched in Belgium earlier this month.
Belgacom, which rebranded its products as "Proximus" on Monday, said in a statement that the Netflix application would be on its new generation of decoders by the end of 2014.
When it launched in Belgium on Sept. 19, Netflix had said it was in talks with local cable and telecoms groups to distribute its content in the country, as it sought to mirror deals struck with Deutsche Telekom in Germany and Bouygues in France.
While Netflix is available online and many new "smart" TV sets and media players have a Netflix application, partnering with a telecoms operator extends the streaming service to a wider audience by providing direct access through older TVs.
Belgacom has 1.5 million TV customers. Its main cable-operating rival, Telenet, has adopted a different strategy for its 2 million TV subscribers.
Telenet, majority-owned by U.S. company Liberty Global, has launched its own on-demand library and struck a deal with U.S. broadcaster HBO for exclusive access in Belgium to its hit series such as Game of Thrones.
Netflix launched its service in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg this month for 7.99 euros ($10) or 11.90 Swiss francs ($12.5) per month. It is also available in Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries.
(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Pravin Char)