The land of maple syrup, curling, Mounties, hockey, Mexican beer's sudsy love child, free healthcare, and self-titled bacon has just obtained another claim to fame: the first Netflix stream-only endeavor.
Netflix, the world's leading movie and TV subscription service with over 13 million subscribers, is extending its services to Canada later this fall by offering its inaugural stream-only service. They opted out of the DVD/Blu-ray delivery portion of memberships commonly seen in the United States because the costs of shipping them via French trading boats up the Mississippi River would have been astronomical.
Canadian users will be able to instantly stream a plethora of available TV episodes and movies titles directly to their computers and televisions via devices accepting of the service. While the press release is extremely vague as to which devices will actually be included, it can safely be assumed that Canadians can look forward to functionality from the following hardware currently in use by American audiences:Microsoft's Xbox 360
Blu-ray disc players from Samsung, LG, and Insignia
Internet TVs from LG, Sony, and VIZIO
the Roku digital video player and TiVo digital video recorders
Apple's iPad tablet
At this time, prices have not been announced. To put a perspective on what can be expected, subscriptions in the US are a monthly flat-rate of $8.99, including both the streaming and DVD mail delivery components of the service. Does this mean that Canadian users will be offered a discounted price being afforded less options for their subscriptions? Potentially, but when there’s money to be made in this technological renaissance, I wouldn’t keep my hockey sticks crossed.
The one downfall to the stream-only service is the selection. While new titles and shows are added daily and partnerships with major studios are ever-growing, the majority of Netflix’s back catalog is available only via DVD delivery, and users may be disappointed having to miss out on classic movies and seasons of shows in their entirety when browsing the Netflix queues reveal their absence.
Another potential problem is that upon its inception, the service will be offered entirely in English, with French language options being added progressively to titles as the service takes shape.
Regardless of its pitfalls, the positives speak for themselves. Many new releases are available via the “Watch Instantly” option before they even reach store fronts, giving you premier access with the best seat in the house. The convenience also saves you the hassle of having to wait for availability of a newer DVD release or from potentially being hit by a car going to your mailbox to get your Netflix envelope.
Netflix and beating the US at the Vancouver Olympics: 2010 is the banner year of Canadian existence.