Good Week for Netflix Marred by Gaffes

    September 24, 2010
    Chris Crum

You would think it would have been a good week for Netflix, given that the company began its first expansion into another country. Netflix launched its Canadian streaming-only service earlier this week. 

It’s not been the smoothest of launches, however. First some of the extras the company had hired for a video gave interviews to the press, who thought they were actual customers. Netflix apologized for this. Steve Swasey, VP of corporate communications wrote

I want to address an event held by Netflix in downtown Toronto yesterday as part of our launch of Netflix in Canada. The launch included the shooting of a corporate video with some hired extras, who, it turns out, were given improper direction to talk with the news media about their enthusiasm for the Netflix service. This was a mistake and was not intended to be part of our launch plan. Simply put: we blew it. We didn’t intend to mislead the media or the public, and we can understand why some have raised questions. We’re sorry that our misfire has given Canadians any reasons to doubt our authenticity or our sincerity.

Then, CEO Reed Hastings made some comments that didn’t sit too well with some people. He explains and apologizes here:

My Big American Foot is in my mouth. Yesterday, I made an awkward joke with a reporter in Toronto about Americans (like me) being self-absorbed relative to Netflix pricing in Canada. I was wrong to have made the joke, and I do not believe that one of the most philanthropically-minded nations in the world (America) is self-absorbed or full of self-absorbed people.

Netflix Streaming Comes to Canada

Reed does note that Netflix is planning a streaming-only plan in the US. "The pricing Netflix is offering in Canada, $7.99 per month, does not include any DVD-by-mail option, and that is why it is cheaper than our $8.99 USA plan which has both DVD-by-mail and streaming in one plan," says Hastings. "We are looking at adding a streaming-only option for the USA over the coming months. My apologies to anyone offended by my self-absorbed comment."

The company also announced a new deal with NBC Universal, which should help bolster its streaming catalog.