Netflix Launches In Canada… But Shoots Itself In The Foot In The Process

Back in July, I mentioned that Netflix was coming to Canada. Today, it finally arrived:

“With our launch today in Canada, Netflix is focused on adding meaningfully to the entertainment choices available to Canadian consumers,” said the company’s co-founder and CEO, Reed Hastings, who was in Toronto for the inauguration of the service.  “Convenience, selection and value are at the heart of the Netflix service, and it is our hope that this resonates with Canadians.”

Here’s what they’re offering Canadians. You’ll get unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows for $7.99 a month. Here’s what Netflix supports:

A number of consumer electronics devices available in Canada are capable of streaming instantly from Netflix right to TVs.  Nintendo’s Wii home console and Sony’s PlayStation®3 (PS3™) system can stream from Netflix now, and later this fall Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is set to join the Netflix streaming ranks here.  The installed base of the three leading consoles in Canada is approximately six million units.

In addition, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch can now stream from Netflix in Canada, as can Blu-ray disc players from Samsung and Toshiba.  Movies and TV shows streamed from Netflix can also be watched instantly on PCs and Macs.  Over time, more devices capable of streaming from Netflix are expected to be added in Canada, including Blu-ray disc players from VIZIO and Insignia (the latter available exclusively at Best Buy and Futureshop), Internet TVs from Samsung and the recently retuned Apple TV when it is introduced here.

Sounds good. Right? Well, not everything went well for Netflix today as The Globe And Mail reports:

Video-streaming website Netflix Inc. closed down a Toronto street Wednesday and attracted dozens of onlookers for a splashy launch to promote its highly anticipated foray into Canada.

Problem is, many of those in the crowd were actors who were paid to be there. Many of the “extras” on hand were interviewed by journalists, who didn’t realize they weren’t real consumers interested in the product.

As a news conference was kicking off to announce Netflix’s service — which uses the Internet to stream unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV shows for $7.99 a month — extras were asked to spill into the street and encouraged to “play types, for example, mothers, film buffs, tech geeks, couch potatoes etc.”

“Extras are to behave as members of the public, out and about enjoying their day-to-day life, who happen upon a street event for Netflix and stop by to check it out,” reads an information sheet handed out to extras.

“Extras are to look really excited, particularly if asked by media to do any interviews about the prospect of Netflix in Canada.”

After word of the ruse spread on Twitter, Netflix apologized and said the extras should not have been talking to reporters.

Well, that qualifies as a fail. It’s also a great way to kill any buzz that you might generate. Still, their value proposition is bound to make everyone from video stores to cable companies nervous. Speaking of the the latter, in a few days I’ll be writing about one way a major cable company is going to fight back. Stay tuned.

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