Canadians have paid Netflix nearly $800M so far this year
Critics argue Netflix draws viewers away from homegrown TV programming
Netflix pulled back the curtain on new financial details Monday that reveal how many Canadians subscribe to the service and how much they pay the streaming giant.
The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company raked in $780 million Cdn of revenue from Canada during the first nine months of the 2019 financial year, according documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
That compares to Canadian revenues of $835 million in the full 12-month period of 2018, and $668 million during 2017.
Those figures could add heat to the debate over Netflix not paying domestic revenue taxes. Some critics have argued Netflix is drawing viewers away from homegrown TV programming while injecting very little cultural content into the media landscape.
Under the current laws, foreign digital services, which include the streaming platform, also do not collect federal goods and service tax (GST) or the combined federal-provincial sales tax (HST). The exceptions are Quebec and Saskatchewan, both of which enacted a provincial sales tax on Netflix earlier this year.
The documents filed by the streaming company also show 6.5 million paid subscribers were using its services in Canada as of Sept. 30 — an increase of 200,000 paid accounts from the end of 2018.
In 2017, Netflix committed to spending $500 million over five years on TV and film productions in Canada, a pledge the company said earlier this year it has already surpassed.
Netflix has vowed to be more forthcoming with quarterly details of its business as it expands its presence globally. The company's fuller disclosures could also assure investors of its competitiveness in the increasingly crowded streaming market.
The company intends to report quarterly revenue and membership figures by region starting with its fourth-quarter earnings report in January. The markets will be divided into four regions — Asia-Pacific; Latin America; Europe, the Middle East & Africa; and U.S. and Canada — with Canadians representing roughly 10 per cent of its North American business.
"Under this new reporting format, we'll only provide membership guidance for global paid memberships for the next quarter with each earnings report," it said in a statement.
Netflix also plans to offer internal viewership figures on more of its original film and TV projects, which include Stranger Things, The Irishman and Marriage Story.
Those details will come in handy as prognosticators consider the dominant streaming company's position against some of its biggest rivals, including Amazon Prime Video, and the newly launched Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus.
- An earlier version of this story failed to note that Saskatchewan, like Quebec, imposes a sales tax on Netflix.Dec 17, 2019 11:45 AM ET