Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says although his company has a sizeable head start in Canada, they are ready to do battle against Canadian TV providers such as Rogers and Bell Media-Astral, who are scrambling to launch their own rivals services, reports The Globe and Mail:
“Linear television has been very successful … but it’s ripe for replacement,” Mr. Hastings said in an interview. “They are now realizing they have good content and that they need to make it on-demand and convenient to access. They are a few years late, but that won’t matter in the long term. What will matter is if they can get in there and really improve the television experience.”
The CEO says Netflix is ready to assertively bid for movie and TV rights in Canada while continuing to increase funding to produce original content, such as House of Cards and Hemlock Grove for its 2 million Canadian viewers. In comparison, there are roughly 12 million Canadian households with traditional cable TV packages.
Hastings still believes Netflix is a complementary product alongside cable TV, but as more cable TV companies adopt its business model, he believes more original content is necessary to differentiate itself.
“We don’t just want to licence we want to develop and build and look more like a television network,” said Mr. Hastings, whose company posted a $19-million profit in the last quarter. “We have to stay on our toes – it would be tragic for us to be Netscape and invent a model and then get run over by the big guys.”
Last week a report from the Globe noted Rogers has plans to create its own Netflix rival which could involve producing its own exclusive content as well. As for Bell Media and Astral, they recently told the CRTC their $3.3 billion merger should be approved in order to combat services like Netflix with its own offerings. Quebecor’s Vidéotron recently launched its own French-language Netflix competitor in Ontario and Quebec.
Bell Media president Kevin Crull says “the headlines are ominous about our industry,” as streaming hours from Netflix and YouTube have said to already surpass traditional television.
More choices and competition benefits the consumer–it’ll be interesting to see what our cable companies can come up with to battle Netflix.