Netflix launches Canadian movie service
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | 11:02 AM ET
By Peter Nowak, CBC News
Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings seemed to downplay expectations for his company's video streaming foray into Canada during the Wednesday launch.
Many Canadians were hoping that Netflix, which offers unlimited movie and television episodes over an internet connection for $7.99 a month, would allow them to ditch their expensive cable and satellite connections. That won't be the case, Hastings said, as his service is not "an effective competitor" to traditional television.
"We're like a bicycle compared to their car," he said at a press conference in Toronto. "We're a supplement."
Netflix, which users can watch through a variety of devices connected to their televisions — including most Apple products such as the iPad, iPhone and Apple TV, the Sony PlayStation 3, the Nintendo Wii and, later this fall, the Xbox 360 — offers about 7,000 shows and movies at launch, but the service is light on new releases.
Hastings said it's impossible to offer the latest content for the low $7.99 price, which means the latest movies on offer are titles such as Superbad, Slumdog Millionaire and The Notebook, while available television shows include last season's Mad Men as well as Trailer Park Boys.
Television offerings at launch are even slimmer in Canada, with many popular shows that are available in the United States — including Dexter, The Office and Breaking Bad — not offered.
Hastings said Netflix, which has about 15 million subscribers in the United States, would be working on expanding its Canadian library.
Download caps a potential obstacle
The service also faces a hurdle in Canada with significantly lower internet download caps than are typical in the U.S. While American broadband subscribers generally have hundreds of gigabytes of usage per month, most Canadians are on plans that allow between 30 and 60 gigabytes.
Some Canadian internet providers have already moved to limit how much their customers can use services such as Netflix. Rogers, the country's largest cable company, lowered download limits on some of its plans in July, just days after Netflix announced it was coming to Canada.
Hastings said Netflix decided to come to Canada because of the high percentage of the population who are subscribed to broadband. The service uses about one gigabyte per hour of content, which he said would probably be manageable for most households.
"We hope it won't be a significant problem. We'll take it month and month and see what happens," he said. "It's very hard to hold back growth in technology. The internet is going to continue to expand."
The company has signed distribution agreements with Lionsgate, MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures, as well as leading Canadian distributors Alliance Films, Maple Pictures, eOne and Mongrel.
At present, the service is only offered in English but the company plans to add French capabilities soon.
Netflix began in the U.S. as a DVD rental by mail service, but the tipping point for its success was when it began streaming movies straight to consumers' homes via broadband connections.
The original DVD business will not be offered in Canada. The company's success has come at the expense of bricks and mortar rival Blockbuster, which is inching toward bankruptcy proceedings in the United States.
Canadian firm Zip.ca has offered a similar DVD by mail service to Canadians for years, and says it will soon launch an internet-based service.With files from reporter Pete Evans
Top News Headlines
- Neil Macdonald: Harper no Obama when it comes to dealing with scandals
- Beset by three so-called scandals at the moment, Barack Obama has been meeting his accusers and the press head on, Neil Macdonald writes. The same cannot be said for how Stephen Harper operates. more »
- Court freezes assets in widening SNC-Lavalin probe
- The RCMP are moving to freeze millions of dollars in bank accounts and real estate holdings in Montreal and Florida in their expanding probe into Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin. more »
- Needed: New approaches to defuse 'suicide contagion' among teens
- Mental health experts say we need to find new ways to refer to and discuss suicide, particularly now that a large medical study has confirmed that teens are more susceptible to the idea if they know a schoolmate who died that way. more »
- 2nd suspect in Tim Bosma case in court today on murder charge
- A second man arrested in the death of Tim Bosma, a Hamilton father who disappeared after taking two men on a test drive, is due in court today to face a charge of first-degree murder. more »
Latest Technology & Science News Headlines
- Arctic bacteria discovered breeding at record –15 C
- Bacteria that can live and multiply in High Arctic permafrost at temperatures well below the freezing point of water have been discovered by a Canadian-led team of researchers, offering clues about the types of organisms that might exist in similar extreme environments elsewhere in our solar system. more »
- Video forensics: How easy would it be to fake a Rob Ford video?
- Two media outlets reported last week that they had seen a cellphone video of Mayor Rob Ford allegedly smoking crack, a claim that has gone global. If a video does surface, how easy would it be to determine its authenticity? CBC News asked video forensic analyst David McKay. more »
- Internet bill would unlock personal details, says watchdog
- The Harper government's recent bid to give police more information about Internet users would have unlocked numerous revealing personal details — from web-surfing habits to names of friends, says a new study by the federal privacy watchdog. more »
- Xbox One: A closer look
- The design, performance, Kinect camera, controller, requirements and limitations of Microsoft's Xbox One get a critical look. more »
- How the weather info that storm chasers use can keep you safe
- Radar imagery and a stream of weather information are readily available to the public when severe weather bears down. more »
Bob McDonald's Blog
- Chris Hadfield: The gravity of gravity May. 17, 2013 9:58 AM After five months of being Superman and a media superstar, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is now beginning the challenging task of adapting his mortal body and brain to life back on Earth.
Quirks & Quarks
- May 25: The Origin of Feces May. 22, 2013 11:36 AM Cow pies, scat, droppings, guano, dung, manure, night soil, poop, fecal matter, sh*t. Call it what you may, excrement plays a crucial role in evolution, culture and the environment.
- 2nd suspect named in Tim Bosma slaying
- Killing near London barracks probed as 'terror' act
- 2nd suspect in Tim Bosma case in court today on murder charge
- Mike Duffy's primary home not P.E.I., unedited Senate report says
- Senators' Alfredsson on defeating Penguins: 'Probably not'
- 'Appalling murder' of U.K. soldier prompts emergency meeting
- Rob Ford fired as Don Bosco Eagles football coach
- 1.3 million Montrealers face boil water advisory
- 'You will see him again in heaven,' Sharlene Bosma tells daughter