BCE Plans to Rival Netflix

George Cope, CEO of BCE, said that if the acquisition of Astral Media goes through, a made-in-Canada competitor to Netflix, available in English and French, will be launched.

In defending BCE’s purchase of Astral at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hearing on Sept. 10th, Cope said the competitive service will be available on demand, on any device, and will employ content from Astral Media as well as Bell Media.

Cope noted: “The Canadian system needs companies with the scale to compete against foreign content companies like Netflix, Apple, Google and Amazon. More than 10% of Canadians now subscribe to Netflix, which accounts for more than 11-million hours of TV viewing per week.”

Canadian companies are able to compete, make the necessary investments in technology, and unlike Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) have to pay taxes and contribute to Canadian content, argued Cope.

The CRTC hearing is currently examining how much of the English-language TV market will be controlled by BCE were the $3.4 billion Astral deal to go through.

BCE (TSX:BCE) contends that with the acquisition of Astral (TSX: ACM.A,ACM.B), Bell will own 33.5 percent of the English language market, just under the 35 percent threshold set by the CRTC.

Other telecom rivals argue that Bell would control at least 37.6 percent of English TV viewing. Furthermore, TELUS (TSX:T) calculates that with Bell’s partial ownership in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment along with other joint venture assets, the television audience will amount to roughly 49.5 percent.

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