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If Netflix Dies, Do We Blame Canada?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Throughout 2011, I called the play-by-play of Netflix's (NFLX) collapse. At times, it appeared as if I knew CEO Reed Hastings' company better than he did.

Change happens fast in new media, though. Heading into 2013, I am moderately bullish NFLX.

Even though he refuses to admit a shift in strategy, Hastings tweaked Netflix's focus.

The days of way-too-expensive, large-scale and seemingly random content buys are gone. Leave that to Amazon.com (AMZN) for now. Netflix realized that to provide value to viewers and content owners it needed to carve out a relatively sustainable niche.

I'm living proof that it's effective. FX will gain a viewer it would not have had without Netflix. After I finish Louie reruns on Netflix, I'll catch the new season on cable. AMC Networks (AMCX) freely admits that Netflix helped drive ratings for the most recent new season of Mad Men.

Work in Kids TV, documentaries, an attempt to succeed at original programming and an average, but serviceable slate of movies and popular television shows and, finally, Netflix has a future.

If Canada mattered more globally (by the way, it should and I wish it did), I might contend that the spear BCE (BCE) (formerly Bell Canada) just tossed could kill Netflix. Here's what's happening (with help from The Canadian Press via Yahoo! Finance Canada and how it will impact Netflix's business, if at all:

  • BCE will use its recent purchase of Astral Media to fuel a cross-platform Netflix competitor
  • The service will focus on Canadian movies as well as Bell Media-owned news, sports and entertainment content
  • BCE made the informal announcement as a way to combat criticism from the public, on anti-competitive grounds, over the Astral acquisition

    BCE bills the service as a "Made in Canada" competitor to global brands, such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple (AAPL). From a public interest standpoint, the company claims the service will provide the necessary scale for increased investment in Canadian content.

    I don't have a problem with what BCE and Rogers Communications (RCI) pull off in Canada. It's reactionary to think it will be a disservice to Canadians. To the contrary, it will increase quality and help level the playing field as Canada looks to up its status in the world.

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