This article was published on September 22, 2010

Updated-First Impressions: Netflix Canada Shoots Wide of the Net

Updated-First Impressions: Netflix Canada Shoots Wide of the Net
Tris Hussey
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Tris Hussey

Author, speaker, teacher, & Internet rogue. Author of Create Your Own Blog, Using WordPress, & Teach Yourself Foursquare in 10 Minut Author, speaker, teacher, & Internet rogue. Author of Create Your Own Blog, Using WordPress, & Teach Yourself Foursquare in 10 Minutes.

Our neighbors to the south have been raving about Netflix for years (fine, we get it, it’s cool), so when Netflix announced that they were coming to Canada this fall with a streaming service, we were all pretty psyched. Yesterday, with the launch looming I still had questions, but I figured that they would all be answered today.

And they were.

And I’m not impressed.

Okay, for the “where can I watch it” question, I’m watching Vampires through my PS3 right now. I have Netflix installed on both my iOS devices and are ready to go. For my Wii, I have to wait for a DVD to come in the mail to try it there.

Quality question: The streaming quality on my PS3 in HD is pretty impressive. As far as doing other things with my Internet connection at the same time, I haven’t seen any huge issues, but I’m also not straining it right now.

Cost question: A reasonable $8/month (there is a 30 day free trial on right now). Not bad.

As for my ISP slamming me down for using Netflix, that’s way too early to tell.

The question that I thought would be easy, the reason that Canadians were waiting for Netflix, what will I be able to watch, well that is a huge disappointment. Like epic fail huge.

First thing this morning I checked out and wanted to see if I could catch up on Big Bang Theory before Thursday. Nope. Hmm. Okay, hey I watched Sherlock Holmes (the new one) last night on Movie Central…not on Netflix Canada. Okay, okay the new Nikita. It’s filmed in Toronto, that has to be there. Nope.

New movies? Broadcast shows that I might miss on TV but will want to watch? No dice.

Oh as for the US side of Netflix? Yeah, well, I used a little SOCKS proxy trick to appear from the US. I could have watched Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly, even Canadian made Nikita. New Dr. Who, all there. Sherlock Holmes, yep.

Here’s my take.

The technology is impressive. The movies load right away and look great on my TV through the PS3. The price isn’t bad, reasonable I think. The problem I have with the 30 day trial is the after 30 days if you don’t cancel you’re automatically charged for next month (I know it’s common, but I still don’t have to like it).

All that considered, however, I call Netflix Canada is a fail. Look, if you’re going to launch a service in Canada to compete with cable (compete, not replace, Netflix is backing away from that statement), you have to launch with new content that people want to watch. Sorry, Netflix, but in order to keep people’s attention (and money) you need to get real content, real fast.

Oh and don’t think I’m being all tech curmudgeon on it. Gillian Shaw has being trying it for a while and she’s not impressed and will cancel her account before the trial ends.

I have a contact request in at Netflix for info on the launch. If they get back to me, I’ll certainly update this post with more details.

Update 1: Oh just when you thought it couldn’t get much worse for the Netflix Canada launch, it has. Turns out Netflix hired extras to be at the press conference and the actors talked to reporters like they were really consumers. Yes, Netflix has apologized, but jeez folks, really? I’m still waiting to hear from Netflix PR. My biggest question is why the absolutely sucktacular selection of content and when will that change? Honestly they have 30 days to change it, because if they don’t, when the 30 day trial is up, I doubt many people will pay for their selection as it is now.

Update 2: I chatted with Netflix PR and given this interview that Reed Hastings gave the CBC, I don’t think Netflix ever had any intention of launching something comparable to Netflix in the US. Maybe it was the cost of negotiating with new broadcasters (who also happen to be owned by ISPs) or  trying a new cost-conscious, budget service as a new offering. Regardless of the reasons, I’m pretty sure that Netflix Canada isn’t for me.

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