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Odd Bedfellows: Netflix Partners With Rogers Communications for Original Canadian Series

20 Oct, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Canada’s largest cabler, and heretofore critic of Netflix’s presence in Canada, partners with SVOD pioneer for drama series set to stream on both companies’ online platforms.

Netflix and Rogers Communications Oct. 20 announced a landmark partnership for the development of drama series, “Between” — an original survivalist thriller series starring Jennette McCurdy (“iCarly,” “Sam & Cat”).

The partnership is the first of its kind in Canada for the creation of an original series for over-the-top video.  

The first season, featuring six, one-hour episodes, will stream in Canada on Rogers’-owned SVOD services shomi and City, and outside the country on Netflix. The SVOD’s Canadian service will get access to the show one year after its initial launch date.

“Teaming up with Rogers, on ‘Between,’ is a tremendous opportunity to work with a creative partner in Canada to bring our global viewers top-notch content,” Erik Barmack, VP of global independent content at Netflix, said in a statement.

“Between” features a town under siege from a mysterious disease that has wiped out everybody except those 21 years old and under. The series explores the power vacuum that results when the government quarantines a 10-mile diameter around the town, leaving the inhabitants to fend for themselves.

The Canadian market, including cable TV, has been in a flux ever since Netflix emerged in September 2010, quickly adding more than 1 million streaming subscribers (about 3% of the country’s population) and forever impacting the region’s home entertainment industry.

Rogers, along with other high-speed Internet providers, began capping monthly data usage to subscribers shortly after Netflix arrived. Video streaming can rapidly eat up data usage, which cause MVPDs in turn to up fees to consumers.

With Netflix’s lobbying, Canadian government officials cited consumer concerns for wanting to up regulatory efforts.

Tony Staffieri, CFO of Rogers, in 2013 told an investor group in New York that Canadian government efforts to bring increased regulation and competition to the pay-TV market weren’t working.

“That concept doesn’t seem to be getting much traction,” Staffieri said.

With Rogers and Netflix now partners in original programing filmed in Canada, paying local taxes with regional production companies and labor, government regulation may just disappear.

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