Citing a need to return to profitability, the beleaguered DVD and streaming service has put its Spanish roll-out on hold in the wake of plummeting US subscriptions and a 27% stock price tumble.

While the UK expansion remains on course for January 2012, the service will not arrive in Spain, as originally intended – at least not for the foreseeable future. Netflix has never formally acknowledged its intention to launch in piracy-ravaged Spain and reaffirmed this position to Screen on Friday [28]. However Screen learned of the top secret initiative and broke the story in August.

According to a source with deep knowledge of the matter, Netflix contacted Spanish companies in the past week or so in a move that has left producers and distributors dispirited.

Spanish industry professionals had been looking forward to the service not only because it would provide another distribution pipeline but because it heralded a potentially significant blow against piracy.

“It is very sad news,” said one Spanish executive who spoke to Screen on condition of anonymity. The executive continued: “Finally, we found out on Twitter that there was going to be a delay from the date that was said [sic], February, and this week knew that no date has been set for its launch through the press. We had great expectation that this was going to stimulate the legal market.”

According to the source, July’s much maligned price hike was designed to fund, at least in part, Netflix’s international roll-out. The service will remain operational in Canada and Latin America and the UK launch remains on course for early 2012 but will come at a price: analysts heard in a post-earnings call on Monday [24] that the initiative will be reflected in losses over several quarters.

On Monday it emerged that Netflix lost 800,000 US subscribers in the third quarter. That afternoon the stock dived 27% from $32.01 to $86.83m.

The international hold-up has dour implications for Netflix’s goal of launching in Japan and South Korea in late 2012, first revealed on Screendaily in August.