Netflix on how Canada fits into its business plan

Content VP Jason Ropell says Canadian content on the service depends on audience demand.

While emphasizing that Netflix hasn’t allocated space for specifically Canadian produced film and TV programs, company content VP Jason Ropell does stress that Canadians are continuing to take to the service in droves.

Speaking to Playback during a short break at last week’s Banff World Media Festival, Ropell provided some insight into how Canadian producers fit into the quickly-growing company’s picture. Indeed, not long after expanding into Canada not even two years ago, Netflix has embarked on the Latin American market as well, a strategy execution in which Ropell is playing a key role.

Ropell, a Canadian who is a University of Toronto graduate, was legal counsel for Corus and VP of business development at NBCUniversal before joining Netflix in 2011. Part of his remit is to acquire for the Canadian marketplace.

Netflixspread north of the border in September 2010. In its report of first quarter financial results, released in April, the company said it had begun to reap profits from the Canadian operation in less than two years. It didn’t say what those profits were; Ropell noted to Playback that since the launch of the Latin American service Canadian-specific audience numbers would no longer be made publicly available; it reported notching 1 million subscribers here in August 2011.

“We have continued to see the strong growth in Canada,” he said.

Ropell continued, “We do have some Canadian content on the site but generally the level of Canadian content that we have is reflective of the desire and demand for Canadian content from the users, to the extent that we can perceive preference for that.”

He emphasized that the U.S.-based video-streaming service’s overall content offering is expanding significantly.

When asked about what content Netflix is looking to pick up, Ropell said that since its audience is spread across demographic groups it doesn’t target specific genres of shows, except to say that high-end dramas and kids’ programs are popular.

When it comes to acquisitions, “we don’t have an allocated space specifically for Canadian original shows, but you never know. We are territory agnostic when it comes to licensing shows on a first-run basis. If we find a show here (at Banff) that we think is going to do particularly well on an international or world-wide basis, there is no reason why we wouldn’t license it.”