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Netflix Is So Popular In Canada, Local Media Players Want A ‘Netflix Tax’ To Level The Playing Field

Video streaming in Canada has emerged rapidly as an alternative to linear TV for consumers. The medium is now a fixed part of the entertainment menu, judging by data quantifying consumer time spent with video and growing OTT service revenues. To grab a growing share of the market, domestic players are introducing new OTT services to compete with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Sling TV.

As US-based streaming services gain popularity in Canadian homes, there is an ongoing public debate about how video streaming content should be regulated. Services like Netflix are not subject to taxation by the government of Canada—a point of contention for the domestic media oligopoly, which includes Rogers, Bell, Shaw and Videotron. The local players say they pay an unfair share to prop up the entertainment industry with “Made in Canada” productions, putting them at a competitive disadvantage against foreign entrants.

On June 1, The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released a policy report titled, “Harnessing Change: The Future of Programming Distribution in Canada,” which highlighted the current challenging landscape. Video streaming is a focal point of the report, since it occupies a hefty part of consumer media time and relates to Canadian content (aka “CanCon,” the federal cultural policy that requires funding and content quotas). In fact, it’s a central issue: “Online video services do not have any regulatory obligations, making it difficult to determine what they contribute to Canadian content creation.”

The so-called “Netflix Tax” has become a catch-all term for the gripe that US-based digital services don’t contribute to local production via taxation. Some estimates show Netflix alone could avoid more than CA$500 million in Canadian sales taxes over the five-year period ending in 2020.

In September 2017, the government of Canada struck a deal with Netflix that committed the company to invest CA$500 million in Canadian productions over five years. The deal was the centerpiece of a new cultural policy revealed by Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, one that stopped short of taxing foreign digital services operating in Canada. (In July, Joly was moved to a Tourism Cabinet position and Pablo Rodriguez was named Heritage Minister.)

That policy direction is reflective of prevailing consumer opinion. Just over half of respondents to a May 2018 Research Co. poll disagreed with a new tax on digital streaming services, compared to 36% who agreed. It’s up for debate how much a 5% to 15% sales tax (based on Canada’s 5% Goods and Services Tax and variable provincial levies) would impact subscription levels of a service that is inexpensive to begin with, especially relative to traditional cable pricing.

A review of Canada’s Broadcasting and Telecommunications Acts legislation is underway, and recommendations for changes will be made in January 2020. There is growing tension between one side, which wants to fix the old model of broadcast regulation to accommodate new digital services, and the other, which suggests the old model should be scrapped in favor of a completely new regulatory regime. The new one would potentially be built to manage the vagaries of internet-based services across borders.

“It’s important that the Broadcasting Act allow for fluidity, enabling the broadcast industry to become more agile and remain competitive when new players come into the game,” said Kathy Gardner, vice president of policy for ThinkTV, which represents the industry. “From a broadcaster’s perspective, there is a lot of investment required in terms of Canadian content. The OTT players that come into the market are not subject to those same guidelines and those same commitments.”

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2018 Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Awards: Vote Now!

2018 Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Awards: Vote Now!

Voting opens today in the only awards program in our industry where the winners are selected by you, the end users.

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Learn more about the companies mentioned in this article in the Sourcebook:

The nominations are in—more than 260 of them—and voting is now open in the 2018 Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Awards. It’s the only awards program in which the winners are decided by the people who matter most—you, the end users.

This year we’re featuring 30 categories, as detailed below, including categories for end-to-end workflow, QoE/QoS, PTZ camera, video player, and webcasting solutions. All readers of Streaming Media are eligible to vote. You must enter a valid email address when you vote; you will receive a confirmation email after you submit your ballot. You must click the link in that confirmation email for your vote to count. Votes by company employees for their company’s products will be discounted; we don’t want this contest to be decided based on the number of employees a company has.

Voting opens today, and run until September 21. In a change from previous years, companies will not be able to solicit their employees to vote for their nominees; we don’t want this contest to be decided based on the number of employees a company has. In October we’ll announce the finalists—the top three vote-getters in each category.

Don’t see a product or service listed as a nominee? We can still add late nominees; email us at readerschoice@streamingmedia.com.


The winners will be announced November 14 at Streaming Media West, which once again is being held at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa in Huntington Beach, California. This year’s awards are sponsored by Teradek and Harmonic, Magewell, and Epiphan Video. Winners will be featured in an article in Streaming Media magazine and StreamingMedia.com, as well as our Streaming Media Xtra newsletter.

If you’d like to see what companies took home the Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Award in 2017, look to our list of winners. Last year we received more than 37,000 votes from nearly 4,000 voters for 289 nominees.

Just for voting, you’ll be eligible to win a Magewell USB Capture HDMI, an Epiphan Webcaster X2, or a GoPro HERO6 Black.

We can’t do this without you, so please vote soon. The categories below are listed in alphabetical order.

Analytics/Quality of Experience Platform

Analytics/Quality of Service Platform

We have two analytics categories this year. Quality of Experience is for platforms that monitor and offer analytics that can improve the end user’s quality of experience, while the Quality of Service category targets the quality of network performance.

Capture Hardware

Today’s capture hardware is more robust and powerful than ever before. Which one offers the most bang for the buck?

Cellular Bonding Solution

Presenting a useful way to broadcast from the field, cellular bonding solutions have taken off for live or on-demand coverage.

Closed Captioning Solution

Closed captioning isn’t just a good idea; in many cases, it’s the law. Making it simple and accurate is crucial.

Cloud Encoding/Transcoding Service

Who’s got the best SaaS for encoding and transcoding video, in terms of quality, turnaround time, and service?

Content Delivery Network

This category covers both telco and traditional content delivery networks.

DRM/Access Control Service Provider

It’s more important than ever for premium content owners to protect their content on every possible device, necessitating a multi-DRM approach. Which DRM service provider offers the best experience for the content owner and the consumer?

Education Video Platform

Educational institutions have unique requirements and face distinct challenges when it comes to publishing video. Which video platform works best for schools and universities?

Encoding Hardware (Live)

This category is for hardware encoders specifically designed for live encoding.

Encoding Software

We’re combining the desktop and enterprise-class encoding categories this year, as we search for the best overall on-prem encoding software.

End-to-End Workflow Solution

When a content owner, whether entertainment or enterprise, is looking for a soup-to-nuts video workflow solution that includes professional services and consulting, these are the service providers they turn to.

Enterprise Video Platform

When large organizations look to create their own internal YouTube or other company-wide video solution, this is the platform they should look to first.

Field Recorders/Monitors

Field recorders, camera-attached or otherwise, play a critical role in video production when you need to archive a high-quality feed for editing and on-demand delivery. And whether you’re shooting in bright, outdoor sunlight or trying to match images from different cameras, portable HD or 4K field monitors can be critical for reliably delivering quality shots. Which combination field recorder/monitor does the job best?

Live Streaming Platform

Which live streaming platform leads the way in terms of features, functionality, and usability?

Media & Entertainment Video Platform

What’s the best platform for delivering short- and long-form content to viewers? Note that we have a separate category for OTT platform.

Media Server

Recognizing the best hardware or software solution for delivering audio and video files to listeners and viewers, regardless of delivery protocol.

Mobile Device (Phone or Tablet) Production Solution

Today’s mobile phones and tablets are capable of serving as professional-level video production and communications devices–with the right software and (sometimes) accessories, that is. Which mobile device solutions are on the cutting edge?

OTT Platform for MSO and MVPD

As MSOs and MVPDs deliver more over-the-top content, they’re looking to more robust and functional solutions than traditional media and entertainment video platforms can offer.

Portable Multicam Streaming Solution (Less than $1,500)

Portable Multicam Streaming Solution (More than $1,500)

These portable streaming solutions do it all—switch, mix, title/overlay, and stream—from virtually anywhere; this year, we’ve broken the category in two based on price. (Note that these categories used to focus on “appliances;” now they cover both hardware and software solutions.)

PTZ or Network-Controlled Camera

More and more video productions are using PTZ and network-controlled cameras in their multi-camera shoots. Which one leads the pack?

Small/Medium Business Video Platform

When a business needs a video platform with functionality beyond YouTube, but isn’t looking for a full enterprise or OTT solution, these are the platforms they turn to.

Stream Stitching/Server-Side Ad Insertion Solution

Want to provide seamless ad delivery on the mobile web and stop ad blockers? These are the solutions that help you do it.

Video Optimization Solution

Video optimization helps content owners reduce file sizes with little or no sacrifice in image quality.

Video Player Solution/SDK

When it comes to winning and maintaining viewers. a quality video player is every bit as important as quality content. These are the companies that help content owners make sure they’re giving their viewers a great viewing experience.

Video Switcher/Mixer

Viewers demand broadcast quality in live online video events, and these units make it possible, handling switching, mixing, overlaying, and keying (but not streaming).

Webcasting/Presentation Solution (On-Prem)

These in-house solutions capture video and audio, combine it with slides and images, and deliver it to online viewers in an interactive environment with Q&A, surveys, and more.

Webcasting/Presentation Solution (Cloud)

Webcasting and presentations are a big area this year, so we’ve broken the category into local and cloud solutions.

Wireless Video Transmitters

Today’s compact wireless transmitters deliver live HD video from wherever you are to wherever your audience is via popular streaming platforms. Which transmitter rises above the rest?