Netflix, The American Online On-Demand Video Streaming Giant crossed the border into Canada on September 22nd of 2010 looking to capitalize on the largely untapped online TV and Movie streaming market.
While Netflix Canada, for the moment, will not be offering its flat rate online DVD-video and Blu-ray Disc rental service as in the United States, it is bringing a top quality video streaming service to Canadians…but will it be enough to change the way we rent, buy and watch our favorite TV episodes and Movies?
When I first heard that Netflix was coming to Canada, I was pretty excited. I watch a lot of movies, mostly on my laptop after everyone else has gone to bed, and the concept of being able to watch any number of movies online at any time for less than the cost of 2 movie rentals per month sounded pretty good to me. When Netflix Canada finally did open for business, I was a little disappointed by the initial reviews pointing to a limited selection of movies and TV episodes and, as a result, put off trying out their service. I'd pretty much forgotten about it until one night a couple of weeks ago when I found myself without a movie to watch and decided to give Netflix a shot. For $7.99 per month for unlimited online TV and online movies, what did I have to lose? It was an even easier sell once I got to the Netflix Sign In page (www.netflix.ca) to learn they are offering a 30 day, no obligation, free trial. After trying it out for a week, I have to say that my only disappointment is that I didn't sign up sooner!
How does Netflix Canada stack up?
Let's talk about their selection first, so that we can get that out of the way! Netflix Canada currently offers a catalogue of a tad over 7000 titles, which includes movies as well as some (emphasis on some) seasons of popular TV shows. While they do have some fairly new releases, in general, Netflix's movie offerings include some blockbusters from the last few years, a few classics (Clint Eastwood, John Wayne) and a healthy mix of lesser known titles.
When compared to the 100000+ movie titles available online to American Netflix subscribers, it's not quite the mammoth selection I was hoping for. Apparently, it all boils down to licensing issues and some legal red tape. I assume, however, that Netflix is committed to its Netflix Canada subscribers and that they will be adding thousands more to their catalog as the year unfolds. Just this past week, they've added several popular TV series full seasons and I expect (hope) the same will happen on the movie front.
Personally, I'm not the type to rush out and rent the latest releases. I like to explore and try out different movies and watch some old favorites over and over again (some I've seen 10 times or more), for which, Netflix Canada has proven to be a small treasure trove but for those who have to see the latest releases as they become available, Netflix, at least for the time being, may not be for you. Perhaps Pay Per Vu at $4-$7 a shot or your local video store is still your best bet.
If, like myself, you find yourself renting movies several times per week or buying DVDs every so often, you owe it to yourself to give Netflix Canada a try. At $7.99 per month, I'll be saving tons of money on late fees alone and the convenience of not having to run out to the store is really nice. I've been trying it out for a little over 2 weeks and have watched about 20 movies since I first signed up.
What I like about Netflix!
One thing I really like about Netflix is that it asks you to rate movies you've seen and offers up custom recommendations based on your answers. In fact, the whole suggestion system works pretty well. I also like how well movies and TV shows are categorized. Currently, offerings are sorted amongst 20 genres and countless sub-genres, which allows you to quickly pinpoint what you want to watch.
Documentaries, Action & Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Romance – it's all there!
Navigation on the Netflix site is easy and intuitive enough for anyone to use. There are also quite a few interactive features that offer up additional info, reviews and bios.
Hovering over selections brings up a description and rating for each movie. Clicking on a title brings you to a page filled with info and reviews from members and critics. I also like that you can click on an actor or director's name to pull up their bio and a list of all their movies Netflix currently has in it's catalog.
So far I've watched Reservoir Dogs, The Eiger Sanction, the very creepy Human Centipede, The Last Rites of Ransom Pride and a few recent releases I had missed when they came out.
I've also never seen Weeds or MadMen, so I'm looking forward to start watching those sometime soon, as Netflix has a couple of seasons of these shows and quite a few more.
What about Netflix's Online Streaming?
This is where Netflix shines. The system automatically detects your Internet bandwidth speed and streams accordingly. Video quality is either DVD-video in full stereo (for connections of 1.5Mbps or better), better than DVD quality in full stereo (for connections of 3Mbps or better) and 720 or 1080 HD quality with stereo or full surround sound (for connections of 6Mbps or better).
Netflix's video player is sleek, fast and offers minimized and full screen viewing modes. So far, out of the 20 or so movies I've watched, the player only paused once to toggle video quality to match my Internet connection speed and that was while watching on my laptop through a Wireless G connection with 3 bars. Suffice it to say, in my humble opinion, the quality of video and sound provided is fantastic!
Can I only watch Netflix on my computer?
Netflix has several connection and streaming options. Currently, Netflix Canada subscribers can watch on any Windows or Mac Computer, Nintendo Wii – Microsoft XBOX 360 – Sony PS3 gaming consoles, Netflix compatible LCD – LED – Plasma Televisions, a selection of Netflix compatible Blu-ray players, iPhone – iTouch and Blackberry devices.
imageIf you don't have any of the above other than a computer, you can still watch your movies on your TV as long as you are able to connect your computer to it using VGA or HDMI cables. Most newer TVs offer this level of connectivity.
So what's the verdict?
Netflix's current catalog is limited, especially where new releases are concerned, and that might be a deal breaker for some of you. Other than that, I can only say that the service is top notch and I can't imagine anyone but die hard “new release” junkies who would think Netflix Canada is not great convenience and value for the money. Either way, I recommend you sign up to Netflix for a 30 day free trial and decide for yourself!