Netflix’s secret weapon to conquer Europe: pay TV boxes

Netflix launched in Germany and Austria on Tuesday after going live in France on Monday, and the company is set to announce launches in three additional European countries later this week. It’s one of Netflix’s most ambitious expansions to date, and it’s coming with a new set of partners: In Germany, Netflix struck an alliance with Deutsche Telekom, and, in France, it teamed up with Bouygues Telecom.

These partnerships could be a key part to Netflix’s expansion in Europe and provide a blueprint for further growth in the U.S. In Germany, [company]Deutsche Telekom[/company] is adding Netflix’s app to its Entertain pay TV platform. In France, the app is going to be available on [company]Bouygues Telecom[/company]’s Android-based set-top boxes starting in November.

This isn’t the first time Netflix has struck these kinds of alliances with pay TV operators. However, in the past, cooperations were restricted to operators that were leasing [company]TiVo[/company]’s DVR to their customers. Now, Netflix is taking the next step and bringing its app to additional set-top boxes.

This could be especially helpful in Europe, where streaming devices haven’t caught on as much as in the U.S. Roku’s streaming box is only available in the U.K. and Ireland, and other devices haven’t seen as much traction, ironically in part because Netflix hasn’t been available until now. By getting onto the hardware that’s already being used by TV viewers, Netflix may be able to escape this kind of chicken-and-egg problem.

However, Netflix isn’t just looking to Europe for pay TV partnership. Company executives have long said that they’d also like to see their app on U.S. cable boxes, and a growing number of set-top devices capable of running the app could help Netflix to make further inroads stateside as well.