Netflix announced today that it is offering unlimited movies and TV streamed over the internet into the homes of Canadians for $7.99 per month. As a consumer who is tired of paying ever increasing cable bills, I watched the announcement with some interest. Though Netflix is offering the first month free, the selection of movies and TV shows on offer at present is rather limited. Here’s a quick rundown of movies and TV shows that came back with “not available”: Toy Story, Shrek, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Alice in Wonderland, Avatar, The Hurt Locker, CoralineChuck and Big Bang Theory.

Even if Netflix’s selection were more extensive, we are still limited by Bell’s bandwidth cap of 25GB. Netflix says each hour of a movie or TV show will use up 1GB of bandwidth for standard TV and 2GB for HD. At that rate, a monthly bandwidth allowance of 25GB doesn’t go very far. One option would be to switch to an ISP like TekSavvy as many consumers frustrated with bandwidth shaping and throttling of the big telcos and cable companies have already done.

Now if only there was a way to watch a hockey game or the NFL or the Stanley Cup finals or the Super Bowl, we could be saying adieu to those cable bills pretty soon.

This article has 32 comments

  1. I was eagerly anticipating the launch of netflix as well.
    The selection appears to be very limited at this time, hopefully it will improve quickly!
    That being said, $7.99 seems to be a great price point and any additional competition is great!

  2. With BNN.ca online and access to games, etc. at local sports bars, I couldn’t wait for Netflix to hit Canada… I suspect from what I read that I’ll have to wait for the internet connection before I subscribe. After all, the limitations you mention are too restrictive for my taste. Oh, and the price point is cheaper than I had anticipated… so yea!

  3. Hey cc. Just an FYI to say that you anglos don’t need cable to watch hockey as CBC broadcasts free over the air. For us frenchies we need cable to get RDS if we want hockey games in french. Most people don’t know that but all you need is an antenna hooked up on your HDTV to get all the public channels (cbc, radio-can, ctv, global, cbs, nbc, abc, etc.) in HD and for free. The HD is even better quality (true 1080) than cable (780). So an initial investment of $29.99 in an antenna (maybe a little more if your location requires a more powerful one) and $8/month for Netflix should do the job.

  4. Hi!

    I’m not sure you can escape the bandwidth shaping and throttling by going to Teksavy… all ISPs offering DSL use the Bell infrastructure, so they are at Bell’s mercy. If I remember correctly, they even complained about this issue to CRTC, but lost. Cable providers also implement these technologies, so it’s probably a fact we have to adjust to.

    As for traffic capping, that is a different story, and each ISP can have its own policy. Even Teksavy has a limit of 200G for some accounts. Agree, it’s a lot more than 25G 🙂

    That’s not to criticize Teksavy or to recommend Bell. In fact, I switched from Bell some years ago, and I don’t regret it.

    Regards,
    Vasile

  5. There is a way to get the NFL, Sunday ticket, just too bad it costs way more than cable 🙁

    @ Dr. Stock. The cost in beer alone for watching all the sports at the local bar would be astronomical, plus, the spouse probably won’t be too happy if we all become like Norm Peterson.

  6. @ Vasile

    The CRTC just mandated at the end of August that Bell et al must offer speed matching to wholesale companies (Teksavvy, etc) using their network. So in theory, Teksavvy should be at the same speed as Bell from now on.

    The next point of question is that of download bandwidth. I believe I read at that time that while the carriers can’t currently charge for bandwidth used by the wholesalers (another CRTC decision) the carriers are going to be looking to contest that restriction in the fall sometime.

    That is the decision I’m waiting on, as the cost savings of going with Teksavvy might be erased if they are forced to pass along whatever bandwidth costs are imposed if the carriers get their way (which I suspect will be the case).

  7. I highly recommend that you switch to Teksavvy. They do it right, and should be encouraged for trying to bring decent internet access to Canada. I’ve been a satisfied customer for a few years (I have a dry-loop DSL and I used Babytel.ca for my phone services).

  8. @Tiny Potato: I hope the selection improves as well. I don’t see myself signing up just yet because of the limited selection. Also, it will be interesting to see competition in this space from the likes of Zip.ca.

    @Dr. Stock: Unfortunately, with young children at home visiting a bar for sports isn’t an option for me. Like another commenter says, I can get CBC OTA but I also like to catch NFL as much as I can, so I’m stuck with cable for a while.

    @Millionaire: CBC is the only HD channel I can get OTA here in Ottawa. But reception with rabbit ears isn’t always great. I suppose we could get a bigger antenna in the attic and be satisfied with standard network TV but after watching sports in HD, it’s hard to go back 🙂

    @Vasile: I don’t recall the exact details but CRTC did allow traffic shaping last year but ISPs have to provide disclosure and demonstrate why they need to manage traffic. I don’t recall if Bell as a wholesaler is allowed to implement traffic shaping. I’m going to investigate this topic.

    @Sampson: Yes, visiting bars to watch sports isn’t an option for me either.

    @Jak: The recent CRTC decision, IIRC has to do with access but Bell may well be allowed to impose traffic shaping on resellers. I think all these issues are going to get more attention as more and more people get their entertainment over the internet.

  9. There is, go to your friend’s house for those once a year big events.

    I cancelled my TV months ago and haven’t looked back.

  10. Similar to others, I’ve been watching more and more of my television on the internet as well.

    When I lived in Ontario, I used to really enjoy this chain of stores called the Beat Goes On. They buy & sell CDs & DVDs. The spread between the purchase price and what they would buy stuff back for is only a little bit more than renting a movie for a weekend. So, I used to make one trip every couple of months and scoop up handfuls of DVDs at a go and return the ones from the previous trip.

    I still do that whenever I go to visit Ontario, but they don’t have any branches here on the East Coast.

  11. @Vasille: Teksavvy has full support for MLPPP for $4.00 extra per month. This enables you to use custom firmware on your router which allows you to download without being throttled.

  12. @CanadianCapitalist: I know this may be a little off topic, but I would love to read about affordable internet (dsl/cable) and VOIP (i.e. freephoneline.ca, magic jack, google voice, etc.) options for Canadians. Have you ever blogged about this topic before?

  13. I love their selection. I am sure it will improve and it is a great price point – $7.99 / month

  14. Looks like a great deal but as always there are catches. Limited selection is one. I wonder what else is added when you finally receive the bill. I hope they give us their US selection. I am looking forward to saying “adieu” to my cable company!

  15. @Canadiancapitalist – One overlooked competitior is rogersondemand.com.

    If you want current TV shows, you can watch for free on rogersondemand.com. But, even looking at rogersondemand.com’s content, CTV shows are not available. No doubt you won’t see CTV (Bell owned) stuff on rogersondemand.com any time soon and you likely won’t see CityTv stuff on what will eventually be Bell’s online equivalent.

  16. You can also download quite a few Canadian TV shows (not in real time, of course) from Apple’s iTunes store, many of them in HD. You can purchase an entire season of shows in advance and the episodes will download as they are released. The advantage is that there are no subscription fees; for a light watcher of TV this may be a good deal. Shows are typically $2 each to buy; there’s supposed to be a rental option as well with the new AppleTV but I don’t see that on the iTunes store yet.

    I recently calculated that I pay almost $70/hour to watch TV, because we are on track to watch a grand total of about 9 hours of television this entire year. We have the most basic cable package available, and the two stations we watch are not available online, at least not in good enough quality to make it enjoyable to watch.

  17. This Netflix thing is very nice and appealing but I am still not ready to drop my TV set. Remember that online tv implies 1) that you start watching TV on your computer sitting at your desk. 2) Or better, that you hook up your computer, wii or ps3 on your TV set. Personnaly I have my laptop plugged into my home theather and it’s great. I’ve been watching movies and series in streaming for months. But the technology is just not there yet. First, forget the remote control. You need to have your laptop (and all the wires) close by. Second, the speed is not always there. Whether the website lags or your connection slows down. Third, after a hard day at work, I like to sit down, turn on the tv, turn off my brain, flick the channels and just watch what is there while sipping a beer. With the internet, you have to type, browse, get url errors, windows crash, browser compatibility problems and the super famous Adobe Flash player that gradually slows down your whole computer to the point that you have to reinstall it. Streaming is great but sometimes can be a pain.

  18. @Millionaire: did you check the Roku box? It’s only $99, and it has a remote. This kind of devices are designed from scratch to have a 10 ft interface (i.e remote, big fonts, etc). I think you may also use the PC to add movies to your Netflix watching queue.

  19. @Michael GR: I have close to a year to run in my current Bell contract. I’ll be exploring other options when the contract expires.

    @Mark: A friend’s house is also not really an option for us.

    @index loser: I’ll try and get a post on these topics. Even if I don’t have much to share, I’m sure readers have a ton of suggestions and tips.

    @Steve: Actually, I don’t think the pricing is that great. Netflix in the US charges $8.99 for one DVD as well as downloads.

    @Sean: If it weren’t for sports, I would cancel basic cable. I can get CBC OTA and I don’t care much for TV shows.

    @Greg: But you need to be a Rogers customer to access Rogers on Demand, right?

    @brad: It’s very impressive that you watch just 9 hours of TV for an entire year. I bet most Canadians watch that much TV in a week.

    @Millionaire: I agree that Internet TV isn’t there just yet. But the kinks will be worked out in a few years.

    @Vasile: I’ll likely get a dedicated media player as well if I ever subscribe to Netflix.

  20. @CC: No. Anyone in Canada can sign-up. Rogers customers get some additional benefits but the basics are open to all.

  21. That’s another benefit of Teksavvy: No contracts. You pay by the month and leave when you want to.

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  23. First month is free (do not need to prepay, but do need to provide credit card)! Sign up, watch what ever interests you, cancel before free trial expires. What’s to lose? Watched Wallstreet, which I had not seen, loaded in less than 5 mins on my shaw lite, viewed without slowdown, great movie. There are also some interesting documentaries on offer as well as classics.

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  25. I am subscribed to a financial newsletter and this is the stock I did not buy it when it was recommended at $65. Now it is $167.

    http://www.thecynicalinvestor.net/2010/07/netflix-or-sour-grapes.html

    Someone should short it 🙂

  26. I have been a happy TekSavvy customer for a long time. I am on their 200GB/mo plan (they also have a unlimited one) and that’s more than enough for my incessant downloading and streaming needs. Best of all, I can’t put to words how great their customer service has been compared to Bell.

    I had been waiting for Netflix very anxiously, after spending a week at my friend’s place in the states last year. I signed up right away. Regarding traffic shaping by Bell; to the best of my knowledge they are only traffic shaping BitTorrent downloads (even for that there are mlppp workarounds). I haven’t had any shaping or slowdown on my streaming connections, and I have to say that the quality of streaming I am getting from Netflix is excellent. Netflix and my antenna (catching HD channels from the CN tower) sitting next to the TV are more than enough for me for the type of television watching I do.

    I am still a bit disappointed by the sparseness of TV content on Netflix at this stage, but I am hope that will improve as time goes. I’d be happy to pay decent money to stream all the TV shows. But until the content providers make everything available for me to pay for, I will keep on downloading in addition to my netflix and OTA antenna.

  27. Very interested in where this tech will lead to. Also welcome the competition to cable, especially the aspect where I as a consumer can “choose” exactly what I want to watch at my convenience as opposed to “packages”, etc…

    Love the price point, $8. Definitely beats walking to Blockbuster, oh, right, they aren’t doing so well. Might want to use up any points you may have with them soon.

    That leaves ease of use and content. I have to admit my Apple bias for this up front. I’ve loaded Netflix onto my iPhone, iPad, iMac and PS3. I find it very cool that I can be watching something on my phone while killing time anywhere I have access to wi-fi, paid or otherwise. I mean really, this is technology that many sci-fi writers weren’t even considering over a decade ago. I’m awaiting the arrival of the AppleTV, I want to see how this thing integrates into our home viewing. If it functions as easily as I anticipate, then I figure between Netflix, downloading off the net, iTunes Store and whatever else I choose, I will most likely do away with cable. The only area that laments at this time as far as I know is HD sports.

    Now, if Shaw were to allow me to order “just” the HD sports i wanted to watch, I’d be happy.

    I’d be more interested if I could subscribe directly through my AppleTV or computer to the specialty (sports, food, national geographic, whatever…) directly and bypass the cable company all together.

    I wonder how we’ll be watching our tv’s in 5 years? I think Shaw, Rogers, Bell, et all, should be spending more time trying how to compete fairly, instead of lobbying the CRTC, etc…

    Just my opinion.

  28. If you are looking for an online dvd rental along with game rental online, then look no further more. DVDLink.ca is one of the best option for you. DVDLink.ca has a big collection of movies and games for PS3, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and it has got the finest variety of blu ray movies. Plus, they are continously increasing the collection each and every day.

  29. Zach, do you work for them?

    Probably not a bad site, will look into them, but I can’t help but think it’s all about the “convenience” of not having to mail anything. I’d prefer if Sony offered me the choice to rent games via the PS3’s online store, as you currently can with movies and tv shows, etc… I’m sure they and the other consoles will be offering this at some point.

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  31. I think a lot of Canadians got feed up with the lack of content. Lots of them are jumping trough hoops in order to get US content http://vpnfreedom.com/netflix/how-to-access-us-netflix-in-canada/

  32. You can easily access Netflix anywhere in the world using AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield VPN.
    It gives you a US IP address and works with Windows XP/Vista/7/Mac.

    Check it out here: http://www.hotspotshield.com