Industry debates Netflix Canada, other OTT services

The Netflix Canada debate continued to dominate the Banff World Media Festival, with industry players warning against so-called over-the-top digital platforms.
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The Netflix Canada debate continued to dominate the Banff World Media Festival, with industry players including indie producers and cable giants warning against so-called over-the-top (OTT) digital platforms, even as content creators lined up to talk to Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos about selling Netflix Canada their library product.

“We’ve been embraced by many distributors because we’re another market for them to distribute into,” Netflix general counsel David Hyman told a Banff panel on OTT services.

“The internet provides an amazing market that broadcasters weren’t able to create,” he added.

But David Purdy, vice president and general manager of television at Rogers Cable, insisted representatives from three US companies – Netflix, Boxee and Google TV ­ did not have the interests of Canadian content producers in mind.

“The three gentlemen here from the States, I don’t believe there’s any genuine conversation going on at their organizations about the long-term success of the Canadian broadcast system,” he told the Banff delegates.

“I don’t believe they’re out to destroy the Canadian broadcast system, but there’s laws of unintended consequences,” Purdy added.

Norm Bolen, president and CEO of the Canadian Media Production Association, reiterated calls for Netflix Canada and other US OTT services operating in Canada to contribute to homegrown production.

But Victor Loewy, CEO of Alliance Films, insisted Netflix Canada was buying Canadian films and his company was selling its library product to them.

“Netflix is paying more for Canadian films and I don’t understand how that isn’t helping the system continue,” he said.

Loewy and Netflix’s Hyman each told Rogers’ Purdy that his company had an opportunity to launch an OTT service to challenge Netflix Canada and other existing and future market competitors.

Purdy countered that Rogers was considering such a move, but was barred by CRTC rules from launching a more preferred subscription video on-demand service. He also offered that Rogers Cable has 2.3 million cable subscribers that it is keen to maintain a relationship with.