Netflix and HBO are getting ready to take over the Canadian video rental market, as consumers increasingly turn to streaming services as their primary entertainment options.
Netflix is already available in Canada, while HBO and Hulu are rolling out the new service in the U.S. and Europe.
But it appears Canadian cord-cutters are looking elsewhere.
On Thursday, a CBC News/Toronto Star poll found more than half of Canadians don’t watch video on cable, and a majority say they would rather watch TV online.
In a series of interviews with CBC News, Netflix Canada president Kevin Pereira said that while Canadians were buying movies and television shows through the company’s traditional pay TV channels, consumers have also been moving to streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix.
“We’re doing it as a service,” Pereira told CBC News.
“We’re not doing it through pay TV.
We’re not going to be doing it that way.””
We’ve seen a huge shift in the consumer, in the age of cord-cutting, to Netflix and other streaming services.
The fact that people are switching to these streaming services is very good news,” Perei said.
Netflix has been testing its service in Canada since late March, and has now rolled out the service to more than 6,000 homes.
The company has also rolled out its service to hundreds of thousands of U.K. households.
It’s been a slow process, Pereira acknowledged, noting that the Canadian market was one of the last to open up.
But the company has been taking notice.
Last week, the company launched a free trial of its service.
Pereira also told CBC that the company was planning to offer the service in its U.A.E. market later this year.
Hulu is also rolling out its streaming service to a large number of Canadian homes, but Pereira declined to provide details on the number of homes it’s targeting.
Hudson’s Bay, a Canadian company that sells and delivers broadband and cable services to the U of A., said it also rolled its service out to nearly a million homes in Canada.
Netflix’s services have been a hot topic in the media, with pundits and TV news outlets arguing that Netflix and others are doing a good job of driving cord-cuts.
Pereira told the CBC that while Netflix and Hulu were “very early adopters” of the technology, they have been testing the service for several months and will roll out the services to more Canadian homes later this month.
The CBC’s Peter Mansbridge asked Pereira how long Netflix’s rollout would take.
Perei replied that the service is “going to be rolling out in phases.”
Perei also noted that Netflix has been rolling out other Canadian services to Canadian customers, including a number of local TV and film services, as well as a sports service that is expected to launch later this summer.
In the meantime, Perei and others say Canadians are going to continue to look for other ways to access entertainment, including by using streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
The number of U of T students, which are eligible for free tuition at the university, is growing as a result of the school’s financial struggles, and Pereira has been working with U of Toronto students to offer them access to the service.