Netflix floats streams to Canada

U.S. co. goes int'l with Canuck online VOD service

DVD rental giant Netflix is expanding beyond the U.S. for the first time.

It will launch an online subscription VOD service in Canada this fall, offering to stream unlimited movies and TV episodes to a wide range of devices, the company said Monday.

The move by Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix, which has more than 13 million subscribers, is likely to shake up the Canuck homevid marketplace.

The Canadian service will be in English, but the company plans to add French language capability in the future. Launch date and monthly pricing have yet to be announced.

Netflix enters the Canadian market with wide brand recognition and limited competition, although this year has seen more local companies wade in.

Communications giant Rogers launched VOD for its cable, high speed Internet, phone and wireless customers in May. Last week Videotron launched VOD for its digital TV and Internet subscribers. Zip.ca, which offers a DVD-by-mail service similar to Netflix (which will not provide that service in Canada), plans to launch a VOD-streaming service this fall.

Canuck tech and media comment forums were abuzz with excitement and warnings.

Domestic ISPs cap subscribers’ usage at levels much lower than U.S. equivalents, and there is no word whether providers will increase those limits. Some pundits speculate that providers may charge users more to provide the bandwidth required to stream high-resolution movies.

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