Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos poses in this undated handout photo. Netflix plans to open an office in Canada in what the streaming giant calls “a big first step” toward content creation in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Netflix *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos poses in this undated handout photo. Netflix plans to open an office in Canada in what the streaming giant calls “a big first step” toward content creation in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Netflix *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Netflix plans to open an office in Canada and grow its relationship with its creators

Netflix has 21 offices around the world, including Amsterdam and Rome

Netflix plans to open an office in Canada in what the streaming giant calls “a big first step” toward content creation in this country.

Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos says the California-based company is still figuring out the office location.

But they’re thinking of Toronto and Vancouver, since the company has so much production happening in both markets.

Two years ago, Netflix announced plans to set up a production hub in Toronto by leasing two studio spaces along the downtown industrial waterfront area.

Sarandos says adding an office in Canada will allow Netflix executives to be closer to Canadian creators, so they can build relationships and field pitches.

He adds that Netflix executives will also be able to be more on the ground here and “can keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in the creative community in Canada.”

“You should think about this as a big first step,” Sarandos said in an interview from Montecito, Calif.

“We’re not just going to put one person in a little office in one city, in one place in Canada. We’re looking to grow our relationship with the creative community in Canada. So that’ll be as open geographically as Canada is.”

Netflix has 21 offices around the world, including Amsterdam and Rome.

For the Canadian location, the company is in the process of hiring a local content executive and hopes to introduce that person “very soon,” said Sarandos.

The content executive will be a point person to guide creatives through Netflix while trying to get their programming in a variety of genres onto the service, whether it be in English or French.

“It’s someone who will have a very close relationship with the creative community, and be a good shepherd and a good ambassador, and help to develop programming from Canada for the world on Netflix,” Sarandos said.

The company also plans to expand the Canadian office staff base to include such departments as marketing and publicity.

“So this is kind of the ongoing evolution of a deep and deepening relationship in Canada,” he said.

Netflix recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary in Canada and has seven million Canadian subscribers.

Sarandos said since 2017, Netflix has spent C$2.5 billion on production in Canada, on titles including the Toronto-shot “The Umbrella Academy” and the new Vancouver-filmed series “Firefly Lane,” which is currently their No. 1 show in the world.

Other Netflix programming shot in Canada includes “Virgin River” in British Columbia, “The Adam Project” in Vancouver and “Locke & Key” in Toronto.

Quebec is also an important centre of Netflix investment for VFX and animation, and the company intends to continue that presence, Sarandos said.

Canada is “an important part of our production ecosystem” with “world-class crews,” he said.

“The density of talent in Canada is remarkable, and we’ve found that everywhere we shoot in Canada.”

In 2017, Netflix pledged to spend $500 million to fund original content made in Canada over five years, and has already met that target.

Asked if Canada might see a similar commitment from Netflix next year, when that five-year date expires, Sarandos said: “We’re in this for the long haul with Canada.”

Sarandos pointed to homegrown content produced by Netflix, including the B.C.-made Canadian-American animated film “The Willoughbys” and documentary series “Rust Valley Restorers,” and two Quebec-shot projects — the film “The Decline” and the series “Can You Hear Me?”

Then there are Canadian-made shows that have been vaulted to international fame by their presence on Netflix, from “Schitt’s Creek” to “Kim’s Convenience,” he added.

He said Netflix also recently held a virtual Canadian pitch day between creators and executives, which yielded more than 10,000 submissions from across the country. Netflix also plans to do a French pitch day in the near future.

Until now, streaming platforms like Netflix have been exempt from Canada’s Broadcasting Act, which sets regulations for the amount of money contributed to the creation of Canadian content in Canada and how much of it should be aired here.

But proposed changes to the act through Bill C-10, which was introduced in November and is now before the House of Commons, could mean those streaming platforms have to face the same regulations as traditional broadcasters.

Sarandos said Netflix loves “the kind of flexible nature of the bill as proposed,” and doesn’t think it should face the same spending requirements broadcasters face.

“Our businesses are very different, our investment in Canada and our investment in production is very different,” he said, noting about 70 per cent of the funds that local broadcasters spend to meet their Cancon requirements goes towards news and sports.

“We spend all of our programming dollars on filmed entertainment. And it’s the nature of live linear television versus on-demand television. They’re very, very different. And I do think that those types of quotas often cut against consumer desire. We’re a company that has had great success by focusing on consumers’ desire — consumers in Canada and consumers around the world.”

READ MORE: Netflix’s Cecil Hotel crime documentary tells tale of B.C. student’s mysterious death

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Arts and Entertainment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

(CIty of Kelowna)
Kelowna council shoots down Upper Mission subdivision after 8 years of planning

Thomson Flats would have introduced 680 new homes near Kelowna’s southern boundary

Ice rescue on Shannon Lake. Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News.
‘Ice season is over’; West Kelowna crews rescue man from icy lake

A man in his 60’s was pulled from the waters of Shannon Lake after falling through

HOPE Okanagan’s Stay at Home Gala will raise funds to help serve Kelowna and Vernon’s vulnerable. (HOPE Okanagan)
Non-profit hosts virtual gala to support Okanagan’s vulnerable

HOPE Okanagan wants to raise awareness and support for those struggling in the streets

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has cleared the Lumby RCMP of any wrongdoing after a missing person was found deceased in December 2020. (IIO photo)
Police watchdog says North Okanagan RCMP played no role in missing person’s death

The body was found by a family member shortly after the RCMP suspended their search

The images are of Bald Eagles feeding.
Photos: Birds of prey

Princeton photographer captures compelling photos of a Bald Eagle breakfast

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

An off-duty Vernon Taxi driver got a 24-hour licence suspension, vehicle towed, after failing a standardized field sobriety test around 1:40 a.m. Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (John E Green - Facebook)
Vernon Taxi towed after driver suspected impaired

Off-duty cab towed from McDonald’s drive-thru early Tuesday morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kamloops This Week
Cause of Kamloops landfill fire may never be known

Fire investigators are dealing with too much destruction in too large an area

Canadian Mental Health Association staff and volunteers experienced increased Crisis Line calls with COVID-related concerns. (CMHA photo)
North Okanagan MP pushes for national suicide hotline

Mel Arnold seeks support from North Okanagan-Shuswap municipalities for 988 hotline

Most Read