It’s been interesting watching the back and forth over the launch of Netflix in Canada.
First off the whole nonsense about Netflix using actors during the launch announcement to talk to journalists – ya it was dumb, really dumb. However it is handy to remember that this is an American company coming into Canada and for the most part companies from the US have a pretty condescending viewpoint of us.
That aside I was more interested in what the reaction from the tech world in Canada would be and I wasn’t surprised at all that for the most part they panned it. From Gillian Shaw at the Vancouver Sun we get this
So far it’s not resonating with me. I got an early look with a free trial that Netflix gave me to try out the service. When that expires it’s unlikely I’ll find the service worth paying for unless the selection expands considerably. And that’s even at $7.99 a month, which is below the $8.99 US a month it costs our American neighbors.
Not to be out done Tris Hussey, editor of the Canadian channel at The Next Web, has this to say about the service
The question that I thought would be easy, the reason that Canadians were waiting for Netflix, what will I be able to watch, well that is a huge disappointment. Like epic fail huge.
First thing this morning I checked out Netflix.ca and wanted to see if I could catch up on Big Bang Theory before Thursday. Nope. Hmm. Okay, hey I watched Sherlock Holmes (the new one) last night on Movie Central…not on Netflix Canada. Okay, okay the new Nikita. It’s filmed in Toronto, that has to be there. Nope.
New movies? Broadcast shows that I might miss on TV but will want to watch? No dice.
Now I will say that I to was a little disappointed with what is being offered up by Netflix Canada but I also totally expected exactly what we got – the leftovers. The stuff that won’t cost Netflix and arm and a leg to stream or that they won’t have to spend months negotiating with broadcasters and government regulators over.
You see I totally expected that we wouldn’t be getting first run movies like they do in the US or that we would be starting off from the jump with all the seasons of everyone’s favorite US televisions shows. More to the point, anyone who thought for one moment that Netflix Canada was going to be a carbon copy of what the US gets is living in a dream world.
What a lot of people in Canada seem to forget is that our process for getting any online entertainment it totally different and much more difficult that in the US. Not only do the broadcast right holders in Canada have too much say over what happens but we also have a bureaucratic dinosaur called the Canadian Radio and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) and their moronic Canada Content rules that all broadcasters, radio and television, must abide by.
When it comes to the rights holder there is no better example than the music industry and Internet services like Pandora who would love nothing better than to come to Canada but find themselves facing this kind of crap:
Re:Sound, the agency that collects music royalties in Canada on behalf of record companies and performing artists, has filed a request with federal regulators.
Starting next year, it wants to charge web-based music sites that stream to mobile devices the greater of two figures: 45 per cent of the site’s gross revenues in Canada or 7.5-tenths of a cent for every song streamed. That’s on top of other royalties music services must pay to SOCAN, a separate agency that represents songwriters and music publishing companies.
The proposal, which needs approval from the Copyright Board of Canada, has prompted Pandora to abandon any short-term plans to come to Canada. Canadians who visit the company’s website are told that, due to licensing restrictions, they cannot sign up for the service.
“Radio delivered over AM/FM in Canada pays a rate of 2.1 per cent of revenue,” Westergren writes.
“In other words, the Canadian music labels are demanding that radio delivered over a mobile phone via the internet pay over 20 times what radio delivered over AM/FM pays.”
And trust me it is no different when it comes to television or movies that want to get play in Canada. I remember as a kid whose father was a major write for Canadian television shows the long discussions that would go on at dinner parties at our home about the CRTC, the Canadian Content rules and how that was going to screw up everything.
This is the minefield that Netflix has walked into, just as any other company from outside of Canada will experience, as it tries to launch a Canadian service. It’s not just the amount of blood money that Canadian rights holders are demanding, or the bureaucratic maze they have to wind their way through but also the amount of time it takes for all this to happen. They don’t call Canada the laid back nation for nothing – these kind of negotiation don’t take months but rather years.
All that said I didn’t expect a carbon copy of the US version of Netflix but I am also more than willing to give them time, and my money, for them to make it as good a service as our government and broadcast rights holders will allow because trust me it isn’t up to Netflix as to how bad the Canadian version is. No, that rest entirely in our own backyard.