We've been bamboozled. There I said it. After a two week hands-on period I can comfortably say Netflix Canada is nothing like it's counterpart in the US. I was hoping for the best but I have to admit I am deeply disappointed in the watered down service we get north of the border.
I got my first taste of Netflix earlier this year when I was able to trick my Xbox 360 into thinking it was in the US through some IP masking. I know, I'm not supposed to do that. I was able to download Netflix to the dashboard and stream movies. While the streaming service did not give me access to the full Netflix library I still got a decent selection of flicks to choose from. Eventually I got tired of hiding my IP address and gave up on the American version of Netflix.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked by Netflix to test out the service before it launched here in Canada. if it was anything like the service I tried I the US I knew I would be in love. After signing an NDA I got the service up and running in my home. Within minutes of logging into my account I began to realize just how different this was compared to what our friends in the US are enjoying.
The movie selections, and TV selection for that matter, is very limited. Don't expect to stream Hollywood blockbusters to your computer or portable device. You won't find any new releases here, just older titles that many wouldn't even rent at their local video store. Television shows available to Canadians aren't much better. I though for sure we would see some Canadian shows, maybe a few hit American shows that we would find on the larger networks. Wrong again. True a few series like Mad Men and Hoarders are available, but the majority of the series are outdated.
Reading this you may think I'm exaggerating on the poor selection. Well let's compare our new releases available via Netflix compared to those available in the American version. A quick call to a friend south of the border gave me an idea as to what we are missing out on. New Releases (or New Arrivals as Netflix calls them) include Iron man, The Princess and the Frog, Gi Joe, Star trek, and the Proposal. Here in Canada new arrivals include Dark City, The Blair Witch Project, Open Water, All The King's Men and Mercury Rising. That along with a number of titles I have never heard of. I tried searching for any of the titles that were recently added to Netflix in the US - all of them stated they are not available in Canada.
The reality is Netflix has its hands tied. Working in the TV industry I'm all too aware Canadian broadcasters own the distribution rights to many television shows and movies in Canada. They will not be giving those up easily. And until Netflix hands over some serious cash to Canadian broadcasters, those movies and shows will never make it onto the service. It's the sad reality.
While I loved the user interface, and the video quality, the content just doesn't measure up. Many Canadians would have no idea what they're missing out on unless they were told about the selection available in the US. It's unfortunate Netflix isn't able to offer higher quality shows since most people will probably cancel their subscription after the 30 day trial period. Unless Netflix works out some deals quickly it could die even before it had a chance to launch in the Great White North.
Have you tried out Netflix? What are your thoughts?
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