Netflix doesn’t need actors. At least, not outside of the movies they rent.
The company recently staged a flashy launch event for their expansion into Canada, the first international locale to gain proper access to Netflix’s streaming services. Netflix’s audience at the event should have been enthusiastic enough; speaking as an American who lived in Canada for several years, I can say that Netflix’s presence in the Great White North is beyond welcome.
Netflix will undoubtedly do very well in Canada, and the company really has no need to be concerned for its reputation or success there. Yet, bizarrely, the company chose to hire scores of extras to roam around the press event, talking up Netflix and pretending they weren’t hired and given an over-enthusiastic script to read. Journalists caught on, accused Netflix of sweetening the audience with planted actors, and Netflix confessed.
Netflix officially apologized, with Steve Swasey, VP of communications, saying, “I was unaware that script was handed out to extras and that was not supposed to happen. Some people got carried away and it’s embarrassing to Netflix.”
Though the company won’t be bringing its DVD-by-mail service to Canada
(possibly because the company is currently focusing on streaming video,
but also possibly due to legal restrictions), Netflix’s Instant Watch is
a very new and very impressive service, unmatched in Canada by anyone
(even the Netflix rip-off Zip.ca). There are some caveats related to the differences between Canadian and American Internet providers; Canadian providers tend to be more expensive and much more rigid about bandwidth caps than American providers. (I was once presented with a $400 overage charge for one month, not understanding this difference.) That can be tricky for a service like Netflix’s, which uses very large amounts of bandwidth.
But for those Canadians who spring for high-bandwidth or unlimited plans, Netflix will be a great new service. Planting these actors was a clumsy move on Netflix’s part, but hopefully the True North Strong and Free will forgive and forget, and embrace Netflix as wholeheartedly (and sometimes crazily!) as we Americans have.