Netflix has sealed an agreement with BBC Worldwide that will see major series made available to subscribers to the streaming service in the UK and Ireland.

BBC Worldwide is the commercial arm of the BBC, and it has now done a deal to bring BBC series like Torchwood and Spooks to Netflix for its members – with the deal in place for the launch of the service in the UK and Ireland.

The streaming service is arriving in early 2012, and it will compete with the likes of Amazon-owned Lovefilm in the UK market.

Favourite

"BBC programmes are a big favourite of our over 20 million streaming members in the US, Canada and Latin America" said Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer.

"Members love watching back-to-back episodes of BBC series where and when they want, at the click of a button.

"We are incredibly proud to make these high quality programmes available to Netflix members in the UK and Ireland."

Licence fee

Of course, the BBC endeavours to make its programmes available for the licence fee payers without the need for a subscription, but entire series on Netflix will be a key boost for the streaming service.

The deal may raise questions about the licence-fee payers forking out to watch BBC series - although this has always been the case for back-catalogue programmes in the DVD market.

"With our content already available on Netflix in North and Latin America, we're delighted to be a launch partner for Netflix in the UK and Eire, offering viewers the chance to watch some of our best loved shows on the platform from day one," said Steve Macallister, president and managing director, Sales & Distribution, BBC Worldwide.

"UK audiences have really grasped the experience that online viewing can bring, and our programming has proven to be particularly popular with this digital audience."