A recent article from CBC titled 'Netflix hammers cross-border watchers and there may be no way out' published on October 16th (Source: CBC) has drawn the ire of Canadian fans of Netflix, but are the pitchforks and torches deserved?
While we appreciate the CBC's coverage of the issue, the rage most consumers feel is directed in the wrong direction. Sure Netflix has been directed by the content owners to prevent geo fence hoppers from accessing content that is only licensed to US users.
This is the requirement I'm sure that Netflix has in many of it's deals with the TV and movie studios it gets the content from and yet some users have gone as far as cancelling their Netflix subsciptions.
Listen, Netflix offers an amazing product and created a whole new category and way of enjoying TV and movies in the comfort of your home on any device you can think of. The real reason Canadians are up in arms is because they finally were provided a low cost alternative from the entrenched cable giants and that now that choice seems to be limiting their choice.
Again though Netflix isn't doing this, it's the major TV and movie studios that are doing this. So any ire should be directed at them. Netflix has already moved on to phase two of it's approach with Netflix CFO David Wells just announcing that their aim is to have 50% of their library be original content moving forward. (Source: TechCrunch Sept 21)
Let's also not forget that Netflix is producing a wide range of of quality content for a worldwide audience with series like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and the recent Stranger Things. What content have any of the Canadian networks contributed in the last 4 years, can you name more than two shows? Can you watch them on any platform at an affordable rate?
The other major point that most Canadians tend to forget is that Netflix is responsible for moving progress forward. When they entered the Canadian market in September 2010 there was not one major Canadian media company offering anything like Netflix and in fact it took Bell and Rogers another 4 years before they would launch their own services.
On top of that, you know that content that you want to watch on US Netflix that isn't on Canadian Netflix, guess who owns the rights to that content in Canada. Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Canwest etc.
So it's not that Netflix doesn't want to offer this content to you, it's that they don't have the rights to it here in Canada. The real problem is that the Canadian media companies have stayed stagnate.
Sure some of them have some episodes available on their websites or via an app on a tablet but many of them require a cable subscription to gain access to that content. On top of that you certainly aren't going to get a commercial free binge watching experience that way. Want to watch the last 3 episodes, no problem. You'll just have to watch it on a tiny screen and endure the same 6 ads at every commercial break. If you want to see the episodes that aired before that, then you can wait a year for them to show up on Netflix.
You see TV networks know that you want to binge watch shows and that is all thanks to Netflix. In the US many of the major networks know that the key to getting people hooked on their new shows is giving consumers the ability to watch all of the episodes of a show when you want to watch them. That's why all of the major networks in the US are investing in their own streaming services as well and we continue to see more and more growth. The game has changed and we owe that change to Netflix.
So while Canadians complain about Netflix perhaps it's time to focus the pitchforks and torches in the right direction.