OTT in Canada: the flip side of the coin

The panel OTT Services: The Future of Television also allowed us to hear how these newcomers see their role in the Canadian landscape. David Hyman from Netflix, Donagh O’Malley from GoogleTV and Avner Ronen from Boxee all had things to say about how they see their contribution to the industry.

« We are NOT a cord-cutting device, insisted Donagh O’Malley from Google TV.  And we are NOT a content provider.  Our objective is to bring the power of the Android operating system to your living room.  Our vision is to do for TV what Android has done for smartphones. »

Arven Ronen also underlined that Boxee’s main objective was simply to bring “cool internet content” to television. “Right now, half our customers use Boxee in conjunction with their cable service.  As for bringing Canadian content to Canadian audiences…. We are just getting started!”

As for Netflix, David Hyman brought an interesting point to the table: “We were actually embraced by producers and distributors who were happy to have another window.  We think we are creating new opportunities for Canadian content. »

In fact, an intervention from an Alliance representative in the audience supported this perspective by stating that Netflix actually pays more for Canadian movies and series than traditionnal broadcasters.  « So where is the problem? », did he ask.

Of course, for Norm Bolen, the problem is that this “contribution” only concerns productions from older catalogues, and doesn’t help the production of new, innovating Canadian content…

Needless to say, none of these players see any benefit to additional regulations and few of them seem to understand the need to protect our culture in the face of our proximity with the US.

« We were not thinking about that when launching our service, explained Arven Ronen from Boxee.  There was cool stuff on the web, be it Israeli or Canadian, and we wanted to help people have access to it. I am very optimistic about the future of content, and Canada should benefit from it.  I am always concerned about governments putting its hand in that.  We need to find a basis for what’s moral and let the industry play it out. »

Will it be sufficient?  How do we balance our need to protect our culture and support a vibrant competitive industry with our desire to continue as trailblazers in providing Canadians with the most cutting-edge digital distribution technologies?

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