Netflix Inc. has officially reached the 10-year mark in Canada.  The streaming service made its Canadian debut on Sept. 22, 2010.  

“It's just such a good value, I think a lot of people will subscribe," Netflix co-CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings told CTV News in a television interview during the company’s 2010 launch event in Toronto.

Indeed, Netflix has built an army of Canadian users.  The company signed up one million subscribers within 10 months of its launch. By the end of 2019, it had nearly seven million subscribers in Canada — that’s almost one fifth of the total population.

“In the 10 years since Canadians first welcomed Netflix into their homes, we've been thrilled to share so many great stories with our members and to bring some great Canadian entertainment to the world,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told BNN Bloomberg in an email.

“Today, Canada stands as one of our most important production centres, and we look forward to many more years of supporting local creators and bringing members more of the stories they love.”

While Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries around the world, Canada was its first foray into international markets.

“Canada is certainly a very important market for Netflix,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Geetha Ranganathan told BNN Bloomberg in an email. Ranganathan sees Canada has a top five market for the company, alongside the U.S., Brazil, the U.K., and Mexico.

“Apart from being a key source of subscribers, Netflix films many of its originals in Canada as well — think Altered Carbon, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Locke & Key,” she said.

Netflix has also helped build international awareness for homegrown shows, by acquiring the rights to Canadian programs such as Schitt’s Creek, which recently swept the comedy category at the Emmy Awards.  

Back in 2010, Blockbuster and Rogers were still renting movies at video stores., one of the country’s largest DVD rental-by-mail services, predicted Netflix’s arrival would help it to expand its market share

"The content they have is relatively old compared to the new and old stuff that we have," Zip CEO Scott Richards told CTV News at the time. 

Netflix, by comparison, was all-in on streaming.  The company opted not to expand its DVD-by-mail business outside the U.S., which allowed it to scale rapidly around the globe.

“When we realized that the disc business was in some ways impeding the ability to do everything right for the streaming business, we made the decision that from now on, it’s all about what’s right for streaming,” Marc Randolph, Netflix co-founder and former CEO, who left the company in 2002, told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview last year.

By 2014, Zip had shut down and Blockbuster and Rogers Video had also thrown in the towel.

Netflix had about 15 million subscribers in the U.S. when it first launched in Canada.  The company now expects to have more than 195 million subscribers globally by the end of its current quarter.

Wall Street analysts expect the company to generate more than US$65 billion in revenue this year, according to Bloomberg data.

While Netflix has made major investments in Canadian film and television productions, it has battled critics who have pushed for a Netflix tax and even bigger financial commitments to support the country’s entertainment industry.

Along the way, Netflix has also battled several Canadian streaming rivals.  Bell Media, which is owned by BCE Inc., BNN Bloomberg’s parent, launched Crave in 2014 — the same year Rogers and Shaw unveiled their Shomi service, which shut down two years after launch.

Meanwhile, there is increasing competition from streaming offerings such as Amazon’s Prime Video, Apple+ and Disney+.

According to Netflix’s co-founder, the company will stand out in an increasingly competitive market thanks to its obsessive attention to detail.

“Netflix, in many ways, still behaves like a start-up,” Randolph told BNN Bloomberg last year.

“They’re still willing to abandon the past to do whatever’s right in the future.  They still have this relentless focus.  And I think that focus is what sets them apart.”

With assistance from Adena Ali

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