Last month we heard that Netflix, one of the US’s biggest TV/movie rental streaming sites, is coming to the UK and Ireland early in 2012. With the online streaming/physical rental service currently largely dominated by the Amazon-owned LoveFilm here in the UK, it will be interesting to see how Netflix fare when they arrive.

Word now comes via Variety that HMV are throwing their hat in the ring too, and have launched their own on-demand service, called (funnily enough) hmvon-demand, partnering with Video on Demand provider FilmFlex Movies to do it.

The service is already in beta testing on their site, and if you’re a purehmv rewards member, then you can test it out right now before it officially launches in January next year. Films will be available online on the day of their release, with the latest titles currently including Cars 2, X-Men: First Class, Zookeeper, The Tree of Life (if you missed this in the cinema, I highly recommend it), Horrible Bosses (one of the funniest films this year), and Bad Teacher, along with an impressive library that will be increasing in the coming months.

Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney, Warner Bros., eOne, and Momentum Pictures are already partnering with hmv and FilmFlex Movies to provide content, with more distributors expected to sign up now that the site is launching.

At the moment, the service is available via the Internet on PCs, and you can watch them either online or offline, and the plan is to increase the availability to multiple platforms in the future.

Just over a dozen films are currently on special offer, from 99p to £2.79, with new releases set at £3.99, and a range of prices through their library. Given that LoveFilm offer both a package service as well as a Pay Per View service, with unlimited streaming packages starting from £9.99 (from what I can tell), it will be interesting to see if HMV will offer similar package options by the time January rolls around. If they want to be a competitive presence in the market, especially with Netflix arriving just around the corner, let’s hope that a package will be one of the additions they make when they officially launch next year.