Netflix launches in Canada


NetflixToday’s the day many Canadians have been waiting for. Netflix, the company that offers unlimited DVD and Blu-ray rentals in the U.S., has opened their virtual doors in Canada. While their product at launch isn’t exactly the same as south of the border, it is the first service of its kind and promises to shake up the video landscape. Here’s what was announced:

  • $7.99 CDN per month gets you unlimited access to Netflix’s online movie and TV database
  • First month free
  • 1/3 of the content that is available can be streamed in HD
  • There is no disc-based option at this time (streaming over the internet only)
  • Service is supported immediately on Wii, PS3, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch
  • Xbox360 support coming later this fall
  • Some Blu-ray players from Toshiba and Samsung are already compatible
  • The service will work with Apple TV and several other devices once they launch in the Canadian market
  • The selection of movies and TV shows (which number in the thousands) are not new releases, but older “catalog” titles

There is really only one catch to Netflix’s offer: Since ISP price-plans vary wildly in terms of how fast your connection is and what your bandwidth cap is set at, consumers have to take a close look at their web-surfing habits so that their Netflix activity doesn’t end up costing them more due to overage charges. This will be especially important to monitor if you plan on streaming HD content – it doesn’t cost any more to do so from a Netflix perspective, but these movies will eat up a lot more of your internet bandwidth.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings responded to these concerns when interviewed by the CBC. He claims that in spite of evidence to the contrary, bandwidth caps should go up, not down, over time and will eventually cease to be issue for services like Netflix.

Interestingly, Blockbuster Video earlier this week launched a new price plan presumably aimed at people who like the idea of an all-you-can-watch pricing model, but who for whatever reason aren’t interested in Netflix or aren’t able to access it: $9.99 per month will let you rent as many DVDs or Blu-ray movies as you like, one title at a time. Similar to Netflix, the selection of titles is limited to their “favourites” category, which does not include new releases.

So Sync readers, what do you think? Has Netflix created the ultimate video-watching option, or do the bandwidth issues create too much of a headache? Or perhaps you’re content with the existing options you have with your cable or satellite provider? Do you think $7.99 is the right price for a service like this even if you can’t choose from new releases?

Update: On a related note, Netflix reportedly hired a group of actors to attend the launch event today in Toronto and instructed them to “… look really excited, particularly if asked by media to do any interviews about the prospect of Netflix in Canada.” Netflix later apologized for the gaffe, saying it shouldn’t have happened.

Update Nov 1, 2010: Netflix is now available on Xbox 360 in Canada: simply click on Netflix in the Video Marketplace on the Xbox 360 Dashboard.

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10 comments

  1. Bob

    To be fair they should tell prospective customers how much bandwidth would be required for each show.Depending on the size and quality of the broadcast,it can get expensive.

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  2. Phil

    If I were to sit and watch a rented movie, I would rather support my local video store that employs the local student population. Which helps pay for their lattes and books which in turn gives more employment to those in the local café and bookstore which I to support.

    Even though I am the older guy, when meeting while out and about, the kids (young adults) say “hey how are you…” we chat for a bit then are on our separate ways. This is a wise and good investment of my money even if it costs me an extra few bucks.

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  6. Brian

    FINALLY someone addresses the bandwidth cap! The whole idea of us Canadians being capped on a free medium is ridiculous, let alone the charges for going over. With 4 computers in this house used regularly, even with our 95GB cap, we have to carefully manage what we do on the internet and it’s absolutely disgusting. The only reason the cap is there is because we fought and it was ruled legal to download music and movies as long as we didn’t sell them. ISP companies didn’t like that so they slapped this absolutely absurd bandwidth cap on us. Now with the copyright laws about to change, the cap needs to be lifted entirely but it won’t because it makes them money and controls a free medium.
    Everything, movies (blu-ray digital copy even), music, games, EVERYTHING is being pushed on us in digital instead of physical form and we can’t even spend money on entertainment because of the bandwidth cap.
    I was super excited to see Netflix coming to Canada but there’s absolutely no way I’ll be getting it because of the bandwidth issue.

    I hate how pushover we are here in Canada.

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