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

BC Ambulance Crews prepare to evacuate a sick Greenwood boy by helicopter on Friday, Feb. 26. Photo: Submitted
Greenwood boy taken to hospital by BC Ambulance helicopter

Greenwood volunteer firefighters helped prepare the chopper’s landing

City council was given a draft budget presentation at chambers on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
City’s draft budget shows modest surplus, with slight property tax bump for 2021

The draft reflects the latest numbers in the on-going budget process

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Third-grader Hudson Adrian (left) on Wednesday, Feb. 24, poses with fourth-graders Josh Hlookoff (centre) and Jaylen Dekteroff at Hutton Elementary’s Pink Shirt Day parade. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
WATCH — Grand Forks’ elementaries support Pink Shirt Day

The annual celebration of kindness puts paid to the idea that bullying was ever cool

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

Most Read