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If Netflix Dies, Do We Blame Canada?

A Netflix competitor provides the perfect example. There's little chance that anybody other than BCE or RCI could pull this off. Without a countermove, Netflix, an American company with primarily American content, would grow unchallenged in Canada.

Movies and television shows are great, but everything else BCE includes on its service will determine the extent to which it hurts Netflix. If BCE can do a broad entertainment, news and (especially) sports offering, it could force Netflix to pull out of Canada.

That would be one of those stories that hits the stock temporarily, but probably does very little, if anything, to Netflix's long-term viability.

It goes back to the theme I have been pounding home for several weeks on TheStreet: The Canadian Government lets Rogers and Bell dominate the country's media and telecommunications landscape in unprecedented fashion.

That's what saves Netflix -- and likely will for the foreseeable future -- in the U.S. No one company owns all of the most valuable content. And the old guard refuses to come together to put the killer nail in Netflix's coffin.

Hulu could have crushed Netflix. However, programmers have not worked together as enough of a unified force. Instead, we have fragmented TV Everywhere offerings. A one-stop shop for first-run movies and television as well as news, sports and other entertainment would render Netflix useless.

As BCE develops its offering, it could expose one of Netflix's core weaknesses. No matter how bullish I get, I will have the same thought in the back of my mind. Netflix has very little leverage over the old guard content owners.

At day's end, they -- and tight U.S. antitrust regulators -- allow Netflix to exist. While BCE cannot kill Netflix outside of Canada, the American media establishment, with a more hands-off attitude from government, could make it happen overnight.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Rocco Pendola is a private investor with nearly 20 years experience in various forms of media, ranging from radio to print. His work has appeared in academic journals as well as dozens of online and offline publications. He uses his broad experience to help inform his coverage of the stock market, primarily in the technology, Internet and new media spaces. He has taken a long-term approach to investing, focusing on dividend-paying stocks, since he opened his first account as a teenager. Pendola, 37, is based in Santa Monica, Calif., where he lives with his wife and child.
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