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

Community Foundation North Okanagan is now accepting applications for its annual Smart and Caring Community Grants program. (CFNO photo)
Cash available for North Okanagan non-profits

Community Foundation North Okanagan seeks applicants for its annual Smart and Caring Grants program

The current B.C. Men’s curling champions, Rick Sawatsky (Vernon and now living and working in Kelowna, from left), Andrew Nerpin (Kelowna), Jim Cotter (Vernon) and Steve Laycock (Saskatoon), have yet to find the win column at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary. (Black Press - file photo)
B.C. looking for Brier victory

Team B.C. falls to 0-2 Sunday, March 7, with 10-7 loss to Wild Card 1 entry from Manitoba

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Coldstream’s Kalamalka Secondary has teamed up with Globox on a fundraising raffle for its graduating class of 2021. (Photo supplied)
Coldstream secondary school grads glowing over fundraiser

Globox giving away five gift boxes worth about $6,000 in raffle, proceeds to Kal’s Class of ‘21

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
One of two Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreaks declared over

One outbreak declared over after two deaths, seven cases; another outbreak remains ongoing in the hospital

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna care home after 12 cases noted

Two staff members and 10 residents at Cottonwoods Care Centre have tested positive for COVID-19

There is no true picture of how many youth in Penticton are experiencing housing instability or true homelessness. The Foundry and the city of Penticton are trying to find that out.
How many youth are experiencing homelessness in Penticton?

Foundry Penticton and the City have partnered on a youth survey open until March 13

Chelsea Ishizuka was borned and raised in Penticton but has now moved to Japan. When she found out there was a popular restaurant there named after Penticton, she had to go check it out. Here she is with the owner (right). (Facebook)
Popular restaurant in Japan named after city of Penticton

A Pentictonite now living in Tokyo discovered the eatery and the history behind its name

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Most Read