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

Abbotsford International Airport. Black Press file photo.
Abbotsford Airport had 4th highest traffic in Canada in 2020, and its number are down

Statistics Canada report describes a ‘devastating year’ for air travel

(Black Press - file photo)
WEATHER: Enjoy the sun today, prepare for a week of rain

Clouds and rain to arrive by evening, Environment Canada forecasts

Chilliwack’s Ryan Wugalter with his kids, three-year-old Mira and 15-month-old Solomon. Wugalter recently released his children’s album Super Giraffe. (Submitted)
Chilliwack father releases children’s album, songs about superhero giraffe and not eating magnets

Inspiration for Ryan Wugalter’s new album ‘Super Giraffe’ came from his two young kids

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

The 2021 city-wide literacy event this year is a reading challenge for Chilliwack. (Chilliwack Literacy Society)
City-wide reading challenge goal for Chilliwack is to create a reading habit

The 2021 city-wide literacy challenge runs March 1 to 21 all for the love of reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

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

Inez Louis, who is strategic operations planner with the health department in the Sto:lo Service Agency, talks about infection control in the latest YouTube video about COVID-19 created in partnership with the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice and the Chilliwack Economic Recovery Network. (YouTube)
VIDEO: Nurse Inez Louis explains how infection control is not social control

The difference is important for Indigenous people to hear in the context of Canada’s colonial past

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Most Read