Netflix Canada Commissioners: “We Won’t Come Here And Upend The Market” – Banff

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Netflix’s top commissioners in Canada have said “the last thing we want to do is come here and upend the market.”

Speaking at Banff, Danielle Woodrow, who sits under Head of Scripted Series Peter Friedlander, said the team is “looking locally at budget norms as our guideposts.”

The team will, however, be flexible with spend in order to “support [an idea’s] creative vision.”

The commissioners were responding to concerns at Banff that Netflix’s increased content spend in the nation will lead to inflation that will impact local broadcasters.

Friedlander was promoted under Head of Global TV Bela Bajaria last year to oversee scripted in both the U.S. and Canada, as the streamer expands footprint in the territory, and Woodrow and fellow commissioner Tara Woodbury have spent the past year travelling the length and breadth of the country, meeting producers.

They are now in negotiations over a number of projects and are open to co-licenses such as YA series Fakes, which is co-produced with CBC Gem.

Woodbury said indies must have produced shows “somewhere near the [proposed] budget” in order to get greenlit and the streamer’s rights position will “depend on the producer’s level of experience and the package.”

Alongside Friedlander, the pair set out their stall for drama and comedy.

On the former, they are taking a three-pronged approach: heartwarming or romance such as Virgin River, mystery and thriller, and “genre shows with a big ‘what if?’ question.”

Woodbury said the team is also thinking about how YA could work, or a “show set in Montreal that is steamy or sexy.”

In terms of comedy, Woodrow asked for “best-in-class lean-back,” citing Emily in Paris as an example.

The trio repeatedly stressed their commitment to local producers and telling authentic stories, coming against the backdrop of a proposed bill that would force Netflix to hit content quotas in the nation, akin to territories such as France.

“When we started out we called content colleagues in France, the UK and Australia and everyone said ‘lean into localness’,” added Woodrow. “We’re not trying to overthink it, just working with great storytellers to tell great stories as that’s how you have success.”

The trio were speaking on the final day of the Banff World Media Festival, one day after Bajaria told the audience Netflix is taking a “back to basics” approach in the wake of lower-than-expected subs growth.

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