Netflix’s Stream Flows North With New Canadian Service

Netflix said Wednesday that it has launched its video-streaming-only service for Canada, a plan it first publicly revealed last July.

At CAD$7.99 (US$7.76) a month for unlimited streaming, the service is more than a dollar cheaper than the most inexpensive U.S. unlimited streaming option, which goes for US$8.99 and includes unlimited one-at-a-time DVD-by-mail rentals. The new Canadian system does not offer any DVDs by mail.

The Shape of Things to Come

In what could be a sign of Netflix’ future business plans, the company decided against pursuing in Canada the DVD-by-mail business that gave the California-based firm its start.

“Streaming is the growth opportunity,” Netflix spokesperson Steve Swassey told the E-Commerce Times.

Recent Netflix Changes

The move — Netflix’ first internationally — comes less than two months after the company significantly beefed up its streaming presence in the U.S. with an agreement to stream recent theatrical releases from Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM 90 days after they begin to appear on premium channels and on-demand services.

Earlier this month, Netflix announced the addition of movies from Nu Image and Millennium Films to its streaming catalog. Those films will be available at the same time they’re released to on-demand services.

Different Country, Different Catalog

The Canadian streaming catalog will be different than that offered to Netflix’s 15 million U.S. customers. In addition to U.S. and Canadian television programs, the catalog includes feature films from Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Pictures, as well as Canadian distributors Alliance Films, Maple Pictures, eOne and Mongrel.

Supported Devices

Canadian residents will be able to Netflix via a variety of consumer electronic devices. Many names on the list would be familiar to U.S. users, including the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation3 game systems, with Xbox360 support coming this fall. Other devices include the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch from Apple and Samsung and Toshiba Blu-ray disc players.

PCs and Macs can also access the Canadian stream, and devices from Vizio and Insignia are expected to join other devices in accessing the service.

Analyst: Good Business Move

Limiting its Canadian presence to streaming is smart business, said In-Stat analyst Keith Nissen.”I think about 55 percent of Netflix subscribers stream,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “They report their profit margins are up because of the shift away from disc rentals. So from a financial standpoint, why introduce a low-margin disc rental service in Canada, when consumers really want the high-margin streaming service?”

French Language Service Coming

Currently, the Canadian service is only available in English, but the company is working on a French-language service for the roughly 23 percent of the country’s population whose native tongue is French.

Swassey declined to offer a timeline for French service or to provide any clues about the company’s future international expansion plans.

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