Netflix Accelerates Canadian Investment as Streaming Competition Heats Up

'Umbrella Academy' Still — Publicity — H 2019
Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix's $400 million film and TV spending commitment to Ottawa has been met three years ahead of schedule.

Netflix on Thursday said it has met a $400 million Canadian film and TV investment commitment three years ahead of schedule.

The video streaming giant in 2017 negotiated a five-year deal with Ottawa to establish a Canadian production hub that avoided taxes and local content obligations. "We have exceeded the minimum commitment of $500 million [Canadian dollars, which is $400 million U.S. dollars] and will continue to invest significantly in Canada. Our production in Canada has grown consistently over the last several years, and we expect to continue to produce at current levels," the video streaming giant said in a statement.

Netflix has drawn fire from local broadcasters and cultural groups for its agreement with Ottawa, sparing the U.S. media giant fiscal and local content obligations already imposed on Canadian broadcasters and cable operators.

Netflix touting its accelerated Canadian investment came on the same day CBS Television Studios is set to unveil to the local media its own 260,000-square-foot studio with six sound stages in Toronto, where original series like Star Trek: Discovery and In the Dark are in production.

That local investment comes as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other U.S. streamers increasingly make Ontario their latest home away from home for original productions. And streamers from Disney (Disney+), Comcast (Peacock) and WarnerMedia (HBO Max), as well as Apple (Apple TV+) are positioning to launch in Canada against local competition from Netflix, CBS All Access and Amazon.

The Netflix Canada production hub launched two years ago, marking the company’s first permanent production presence outside of the U.S.

Netflix's Canadian expenditures includes local shoots for The Umbrella Academy, V-Wars, the horror series October Faction, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Another Life. The original productions investment in Canada to be distributed across Netflix's global platform includes the streaming giant working with Canadian producers, production houses, broadcasters, creators and other local partners.

Netflix earlier this year locked up eight sound stages with long-term leases at Pinewood Toronto Studios and Cinespace Films Studios. In all, around 250,000 square feet of studio space at both sites will house Netflix series and films, including the horror anthology series Guillermo del Toro Presents Ten After Midnight and the upcoming romantic comedy Let It Snow, from Planet of the Apes franchise producer Dylan Clark.

Besides its own original productions, Netflix is also co-producing Canadian series like Anne With an E, Travelers, Frontier and the limited series Alias Grace.

On top of production facilities in Los Angeles, Netflix launched production hubs in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Madrid to bolster production for its global network.