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Netflix Canada Doesn’t Suck

Netflix by jennypdxAbout 2 years ago, shortly after Netflix was launched in Canada, my good blogging friend Simon from Sustainable Personal Finance proclaimed confidently to the world that Netflix in Canada Sucked after trying out the service for a short while. Conversely, I have been a subscriber to the service paying the $7.99 a month faithfully almost since the service launched. It can’t suck that much to have me be a customer this long, can it?

So, Does It Really Suck?

At first, I was almost inclined to agree with Simon because the Netflix Canada selection was severely limited and nowhere near the calibre of movies and TV series that Netflix USA had. Not only that, but there was also no way to efficiently browse their entire library and save titles you were interested in watching when you did happen come across a good one. The movies displayed on the front page when you log in were always changing so it was easy to lose track of something you wanted to watch and never find it again. Fortunately, things did improve quite dramatically over time and there was just enough good stuff to keep me interested and stay on as a subscriber.

Related: Watch TV For Free

Did It Have Anything Going For It At Launch?

People were so disappointed by the crappy selection early on that they were very quick to overlook all the good features that Netflix Canada offered, even on day 1. There is no question it was the quickest, easiest, cheapest, and most reliable way to watch a movie on demand any time you felt like it. No more running out to the store to rent a movie, no more laggy interfaces to deal with through your cable or satellite provider, no more expensive on demand movie fees for renting through iTunes or your TV box, and no more wondering if a movie that you pick will actually be good.

Wait … what do I mean by that last point? Well, the Netflix user rating system is so good and easy to use that if you pick something rated close to 4 stars or higher, you are almost guaranteed to have a good movie on yours hands. Not only that, but it learns your preferences and will weight ratings accordingly so that movies closer to your preference will be rated slightly higher and those you don’t typically watch will be lowered. This is an important point, because even with a limited Hollywood blockbuster selection, it allowed you to single out lesser known movies, tv series, and documentaries that were still worth the watch which you probably never would have discovered otherwise. It can really expand your movie watching horizons!

I also can’t say enough good things about the technology behind Netflix. The service has been up with no outages nearly 100% of the time. To date, I’ve never encountered another online service that has been anywhere near that reliable. I’ve never experienced lag when watching a movie either. The servers provide consistently fast download speeds even at peak times. If there was ever any lag it was because of my own ISP or download speed that was the issue, not their service. Now that I have a 20mbps internet connection at my house, I’ve never seen a single frame stutter due to lag.

Another great point about the technology is that you can watch your shows on practically any device including your laptop, computer, home theatre PC, gaming console, tablet, smart phone, media box, apple TV, Bluray player, and smart TV. Now that’s choice! It will also always remember where you’ve left off in a particular show so you can easily jump from one device to another if you need to change rooms or leave the house. You can even stream two different shows simultaneously so you can watch content in multiple rooms of your house and not have to fight over the remote with your family!

Why I Am Still A Netflix Subscriber Today

What kept me going early on was that I found several movies and TV shows that I was interested in watching, even if they weren’t all le crème de la crème. This included things like all four seasons of Heroes, which I had never seen a single episode of but I was interested in watching. My wife and I ended up watching almost all of it together for hours of extremely cheap on demand entertainment with no commercials. We also found some cool documentaries like “Inside Job”, narrated by Matt Damon, that takes an in-depth look at the global financial meltdown of 2008.

1) Expanded Recent Movie Catalogue

Ever since then the content available on Netflix Canada has expanded to include much more recent Hollywood block busters and Indie films. “Iron Man 2” and “Transformers 3”, for instance, were released within months after they were released to video. “We Bought A Zoo” was just added not that long ago along with “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and “Salt”. Certainly not everything is available, but there is a ton of ever growing content both new and old. There are some great black and white oldies to be seen as well, which are a big hit in my family too.

Related: How To Score Cheap Movie Tickets

2) Endless Hours Of TV & Series

More than watching movies, we enjoy watching TV series because they have an ongoing story and they allow for quick 45 minute viewing sessions on demand that serve as a short break in between our busy lives. That next episode is always there and waiting whenever we have a spare moment and we can even stop watching at any time and it will automatically be picked up on whatever device we happen to be using when we’re free again. It couldn’t be any more convenient.

Better yet, the TV selection is probably even more up to date than the movie selection. There are tons of recent complete TV series available including such titles as: “Touch” (Keifer Sutherland), “Breaking Bad”, “Man Men”, “Numb3rs”, “Jericho”, “Bones”, “The Unit”, “Prison Break”, and “Lost”. Even the huge library of TED talks are now available on Netflix.

3) Huge Collection Of Kids Entertainment

My young daughter is currently looked after at home by a caretaker all day, so Netflix is a great source of an hour of entertainment a day for her with their absolutely massive library of kids movies and TV shows. She particularly likes to watch Barney! Then, when my daughter goes down for her nap, the caretaker can easily watch a movie to fill that down time. It’s great to always have something available to watch for whoever needs it.

I anticipate that my kids will never run out of things to watch and it will eventually be great for long drives and road trips whenever 4G data becomes unlimited or cheap enough for me to justify video streaming off of WiFi.

4) Instant Queue

At launch, there was really no way to save movies or shows that you saw that you wanted to watch later. This was a huge missing feature but they eventually did add it many months later and now I have a collection of 58 titles just sitting there waiting to be watched when I have the time, which might actually be never! But it’s still great to have a list of stuff ready and waiting for you so you don’t have to waste any time finding something when you sit down exhausted just wanting to hit play and have something on the screen.

5) Everything It Had At Launch Is Still Awesome

All those things I mentioned in the “Did It Have Anything Going For It At Launch?” section still apply today but they are made more awesome by the fact that the selection is now there. The rating system is top notch, the suggestions it gives you are bang on, the user interface is smooth and intuitive, the choice of categories for browsing are extensive, the range of supported devices is second to none, the reliability of the service is nearly 100%, much of the content is available in full HD, you can stream multiple shows simultaneously, and there are no contracts or commitments. It doesn’t get much better than that – except the price!

6) Incredible Value

Unfortunately my viewing history only goes back about a year and a half, but a quick survey of the previous year shows roughly 700 movies or shows watched. That’s approximately 58 shows per month for my entire household. If you calculate using the $7.99 monthly fee (this includes taxes!), that works out to about 13 cents per hour of entertainment! Now that’s pretty hard to beat for quality entertainment that isn’t free by nature, doesn’t contain advertising, or isn’t pirated.

Related: Get Cheaper Internet Service

It’s also important to note was that Netflix Canada was actually cheaper at launch than Netflix USA because in the USA it was originally tied to their mail order DVD service as well so the cheapest package cost almost $20/mth I believe. In my opinion, that made the service even more valuable at launch and helped to mitigate the poor selection at the time. Oh, and did I mention …

7) You Can Get USA Netflix For FREE

Huh? Yup, that’s right, with a Canadian Netflix subscription you are actually subscribed to United States Netflix as well, you just have to be in the USA to use it. If you log on to Netflix from anywhere in the USA, you will be presented with the USA catalog of TVs and movies which is still slightly better than that available to Canadians.

I know what you’re thinking: “that’s useless to me as I rarely spend any time in the USA”. Fortunately, you can use free and easy to use proxy tools like Hotspot Shield to assign an American IP Address to your computer so it looks like you are accessing the internet from the USA. If you do that first, and then log in to Netflix – presto! – you will have access to all the Netflix USA content. What a deal!

So if you were complaining that Netflix Canada sucks compared to Netflix USA, I ask you this: what do you really have left to complain about now? I think I’ve made a pretty compelling case as to why Netflix provides incredible value even for the most frugal of people. It’s a good deal, period!

Try Before You Buy

With such a reasonable price of $7.99, there really is no reason not to at least try it for a month to see if you like it. However, Netflix is generous enough to let you try it before you buy it by giving your first month free. That's what pushed me over the edge to give it a try way back then, and I'm honestly glad I did.

You can use this link to get a free month too:

Get Your Free Month Of Netflix ➨

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CanadianBudgetBinder's picture

Thanks for sharing all this infor about Netflix. The Mrs. and I don't watch much tele but we enjoy watching movies. We heard about Netflix but wasn't sure if it was right for us. Now we have a bit more info so thanks. Mr.CBB

SavingMentor's picture
Well, hopefully I've moved you off the fence. It really is a good service. It would be even great for something to sign up for over the winter months and then cancel in the spring when the family likely spends less time in front of the TV. The only downfall is that it is pretty computer resource intensive. You don't need the latest and greatest to run it or anything, but if you have a fairly old or slow computer you might run into some hiccups, especially with HD streaming (you can easily turn that off though and SD streaming is still good quality on an HD TV).
Jon's picture

Yeah we have the HD streaming turned off - it's at the lowest quality so that we can stay within our data limits!

Canadian Netflix doesn't suck, but I would add that since we added the ability to watch the US and UK Netflix as well as the Canadian, we're even happier! I wrote a blog post about how to work it the other week (it also has a free trial)

SavingMentor's picture
Yup, I mention that in point #7. Definitely useful to be able to get access to Netflix content from other countries.
Michael's picture

I've been a happy Canadian Netflix subscriber for quite a while and watch both Cdn and US content. I must say it is an exaggeration that the Canadian Netflix selection is terrible and the US is fantastic. Although the US library is larger the Canadian selection is quite good - in some cases offers certain new releases before US even. However, I am surprised to see you have Instant Queue as I don't believe this feature is widely available in Canada (it is in beta). You must have been lucky (random selection?) to get this added to your account - glad to hear it works well.

SavingMentor's picture
I didn't realize that Instant Queue was in beta. Are you sure we are talking about the same thing, because it has been around for me now for a long time?
Michael's picture

I have about 5 devices that are Netflix enabled and none of them have Instant Queue. I have been clamoring for this feature. I did a google search and learned it was a beta feature in Canada so hopefully we all get it soon.

SavingMentor's picture
More evidence that Netflix Canada is superiour to Netflix USA ;)
Tower's picture

For what its worth, an easier way to access the USA Netflix is to go into your network settings (on your PS3, AppleTV, Xbox, etc.) and change your DNS server to Preferred DNS: 149.154.158.186
Alternate DNS: 199.167.30.144

Voila!

SavingMentor's picture
That's really great advice Tower, I'd say that's worth a lot. I may try that on my HTPC, although teaching my wife to do that to switch back and forth from USA to Canada might not go over so well. At least Hotspot Shield is just a click of an icon.
Jon's picture

If I'm right then you're using Tunlr - and they are dropping their support for Netflix: http://tunlr.net/2012/09/28/support-for-netflix-will-be-dropped/

MikeO3's picture

I think you & family watch way to much TV/Netflix... Get out and do something together and away from the boob tube.

SavingMentor's picture
Straight to the heart of the matter eh Mike? Well, that's pretty much a problem with North Americans in general but I do admit we watch more than our fair share of TV. Some members of my family aren't particularly outdoorsy ... so there isn't always a ton to do.
blonde on budget's picture

We just got netflix in norway, but it doesnt seem to have that good a content. especially the movies are bit too old.

Robin's picture

Even though the selection was originally not that great I have been a subscriber since day one. There were enough television series of interest to keep me hooked until better content started rolling in. The movie selection is still not that great, but it is passable.

One of the few reasons we still have it is the kids content. The other reason is that we has access to Netflix in any country that it exists in. The only one that added value was Netflix US. At the same time there is content on the Canadian Netflix that I still watch that is unavailable on the US version.

The service I am using, Unblock US, also gave us access to Hulu and any of the American TV Network websites. Besides the features the main advantage to Unblock US is that I am not at the mercy of a VPN for speed.

And for movies, which I rarely have time to watch, I use Netflix on occasion, but watch newer titles on YouTube Movies.

Stephen Weyman's picture

Great feedback, thanks Robin! It sounds like we've had a similar experience. I've heard of Unblock US along with several other options but I've stuck with Hotspot shield because it's free and I rarely want to access the USA content anyway.

I've considered getting something a little more reliable from time to time but ultimately I just don't want to pay another monthly fee for the little I'd use.

David's picture

Netflix is a good deal no matter where it is. Large selection of movies. It has all the movies especially for the kids to keep them busy. It throws in the newer movie now and then so it keeps you interested. Walking Dead. Watch it.

Stephen Weyman's picture

Totally, they hit you with some pretty recent films every now and then. They also have started making a lot more of their own content which is 100% exclusive to Netflix, which is pretty cool!

john's picture

Re: Netflix Canada Doesn’t Suck

November 28, 2012 by Stephen Weyman
Stephan writes, "I have been a subscriber to the service paying the $7.99 a month faithfully almost since the service launched. It can’t suck that much to have me be a customer this long, can it?"

Well Stephan, yeah, when you're talking about the cost alone, yes it's not bad, however, when you add to the logic the fact that we do not have many other options, then yes Stephan it does suck. Don't get me wrong, its a great alternative to the ROGERS cable crap that we have to endure, however, the content could be greater. In fact I would be willing to dish out a few more dollars per month if giving the option to better programming.

It will not be much longer, when people start to realize, just what a rip off ROGERS really is. ROGERS and the 500 plus channel service, hog wash!!. If you cut out all the repeating channels, we may end up with about 125, and then again most of those are repeated as well. Once the masses realize that there is nothing new to watch on ROGERS, their programming if you have noticed, is nothing but repeats, over and over, daily. Then after a few months the cycle starts again.
Notice to Netflix, and any other similar service out there. Now is the time to think big, make the move and expand, and knock ROGERS off the Global map. Like i said before, I am willing to pay a LITTLE more, for better viewing options, and for the thrill to finally to ROGERS to hit the road.

Come on Netflix, you can do it, you're the next ROGERS, if you do it right!

Stephen Weyman's picture

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. Sure, the service could always improve, offer more content, and make more of it real time but it certainly doesn't suck as-is for $8 a month. Incredible value compared to the $50+ you pay for Rogers.

Also, Netflix already is the next Rogers. Rogers has about 5.4 million subscribers in Canada. Netflix now has about 5.8 million and steadily climbing. They double their subscribers in 2013.

john's picture

To bad Netflix can't offer me a internet package as well. Dump ROGERS once and for all. ROGERS needs a mass exodus of its clients, or they will continue to gouge us. We all know that Mr. Rogers, (both son and father) were Upper Canada boys, and were classmates with many of the leaders who pass the regulations for the cable and mobile phone companies. And for sure being old friends, the you scratch my back, I scratch yours is in full force.

I know this is off topic, but why can't anyone (journalist) uncover the facts about the kickbacks certain politicians receive to keep our prices high, and the competition out. I only know what little I do, because an ex lived next door to the Rogers clan, and were schooled together as well, and thats why i know a little about something no one should know about.

Anyway thanks for the article, even though it was long ago.

Stephen Weyman's picture

Competition in Canada can definitely be laughable at times but it sounds like you have a lot more information on price fixing and doing your friends favours than I do. I'm sure it happens in business all the time. Would be nice to have that sort of thing exposed and punished for sure. They do get found out and fined sometimes though ...

If you're in Ontario, you could always give Teksavvy a try for internet. They may use Rogers or Bell's lines, but at least a good portion of the profits are going to a different company and they are typically significantly cheaper for internet as well.

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