Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Irene Berkowitz is the policy fellow in Ryerson's Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD) and an Instructor in Ted Rogers MBA.

It's not easy to turn a supertanker, particularly when that ship is a massive public policy framework that's been sailing along for most of five decades. Harvard's business guru, Michael Porter, notes that in disruptive times, the leadership challenge is a tendency for industry to try to turn the ship back towards a cozy past which no longer exists. The boat spins, swirling to disaster.

By launching Creative Canada, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly has righted our policy ship and set it on a course for new opportunities in the online era. The Netflix deal announced at the same time makes it official: We're in it to win it.

Story continues below advertisement

Its broad strokes are a pledge to establish in Canada the first Netflix studio outside the United States, and spend $500-million on Canadian film and TV over five years. Since Netflix already invests in Canadian content, its formal presence here seems a key value proposition.

Here are five reasons to love this deal:

1. It cuts to the heart of the content problem

English-language drama is the world's most popular, profitable content; it's 70 per cent of global demand. An unsolved problem has been to upgrade Canadian drama so it is competitive in the domestic and global marketplace.

Because Netflix is a global player that must deliver compelling content to its 100-million subscribers, it only develops what it believes will win the battle for attention. Canadian content makers will need to up their game if they want to get past Netflix gatekeepers. And they will.

2. It introduces competition to our content marketplace

A weakness of our system (to be fair, an unintended consequence) has been that our broadcasters, the pivotal financial partners for our producers, make Canadian content only as a licence obligation.

Story continues below advertisement

They have no need to succeed in the original-content business. The presence of a partner with real skin in the game (Netflix) will introduce competition to the system, upgrading broadcast content, too.

If content gets better, audiences get bigger, which means more ad revenue in the legacy system, too.

3. It drives exports

Exports are linked to the quality of storytelling. Netflix won't develop anything unless it believes it will work in the marketplace. This approach should help address a weak link between drama R&D (development) and ROI (distribution). Could profitable Cancon be an outcome of the Netflix deal?

4. It preserves production, jobs

The hard-won results of the 20th-century framework (world-class media work force and infrastructure) are threatened by the domino effect of digital shift: production decrease owing to dropping cable and broadcast revenues, cord-cutting, over-the-top content. Netflix's need for content will preserve jobs, delivering financial and reputational benefits to our media workers.

Story continues below advertisement

5. It deploys carrots, not sticks

The realities of the largely unregulated global media ecosystem suggest incentive instruments will work better than rules and regulations – think carrots, not sticks. The Netflix deal doesn't require regulatory enforcement; it's organic. If great content results, it will stay. It will spend.

Ms. Joly's policy update also seems remarkable for what it will not do: bail out outdated models. It seems to close the door on the conceptual, administrative quagmire of a Netflix tax. An implicit message is that Netflix wasn't born a disruptor. Not that long ago, it was a startup that survived hard times, competitors and financial failure, before it steadied its ship. Now it's an inspiration.

The Netflix deal seems a four-way financial win: for Netflix, Canadian audiences, Canadian industry and Canadian Heritage.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies