A huge buzz on Forums, Blogs, Newspapers and Television in Canada has started. The topic, Netflix. Even though this is a new service in Canada (just launched last week) We’ve been dealing with this for a while. The Reason? We’ve had hundreds of questions as to whether or not we can provide American IP addresses so that Canadians can use our service as a VPN to access American content.
But now it’s in Canada! So why the blog post about it? It seems as though this move to Canada hasn’t been very well planned… Just the other day I went to Future Shop and purchased a Seagate Freeagent GoFlex Tv box. A very simple device, has a huge Netflix logo on the box and even allows you to install a hard drive and store conent on it!
I signed up for my free trial on Netflix.ca and said to myself “Lets go.” After about 30 minutes of fiddling with the box to set it up to my network (I noticed WiFi was an optional item, so I had to run a network cable to my Home Theatre…) I finally hooked it up to my tv surround sound.
The first thing I did was go to the Netflix page on the screen to try an watch my first movie. Instead of being able to watch this movie it got a wonderful message that said: “Netflix is not authorized for use in your region.”
What? How is Netflix not available in my region? It’s Netflix.ca now, not just Netflix.com… So I started googling my experiences (which I probably should have done first) and found that NO devices other than Wii, PS3, iPhone and iPad will work with Netflix in Canada.
Knowing that many of these devices were running some type of embedded Linux OS I decided to take an extra 1U supermicro chassis that I was using for Vyatta testing and re-imaged it with Ubuntu Desktop.
The size was about the same as my BluRay player and it sat in my stand very nicely. I opened up Firefox and went to Netflix.ca with the intentions of streaming my first movie. The second setback… “You are using an unsupported browser/operating system.” Apparantly Netflix only runs on Windows and Mac!
I said to myself, there must be a work around. I installed the “Change UserAgent” addon for firefox and installed Moonlight (Silverlight equivalent for Linux). I then changed my UserAgent to make it seem like I was an OSX Safari browser and got passed the “You are using an unsupported browser/operating system.” screen.
I saw the video begin to load when setback #3 happened, this time, an error from the Moonlight Plugin. It seems that Netflix requires the end-user have a version of silverlight that supports DRM (Digital Rights Management) to ensure that the feed isn’t being copied illegally.
At this point I stepped back and said to myself… “Why the hassle?” I’m definitely not going to watch movies on my iMac, and I’m definitely not going to buy a Wii or PS3 just for Netflix. So I decided to look through the content and see if it’s even worth it to go any further.
About 20 minutes later, after looking throug the content selection, my decision was made. As soon as I saw Terminator 2 in the “New Action” category it seemed my previous 2 hours of effort was all down the drain.
Why bother releasing a service that is Sub-Par to the American equivalent, doesn’t work on any platform that is common (at least in my household) and charge the same price for it? It doesn’t paint a bright picture for the Netflix brand in Canada, and we all know how important first impressions are.
Feel free to sign up for the free trial, but I would not recommend Netflix as a replacement for buying the movie channels or extra theme packages from the TV companies just yet. Even if there was a simple way of getting it on your TV, the subscription is still lacking some solid content.
In order to win me over, Netflix will have to provide a service where I want to watch something on it rather than forcing myself to watch things so that my $7.99 is justified.
Hopefully the new AppleTV will be able to work in Canada right out of the box. Until then I’ll be hooking up my OSX86 hackintosh to my home theatre whenever I want to watch something.