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Canada's BCE to launch service to challenge Netflix

September 10, 2012|By Dawn C. Chmielewski
  • A Netflix subscriber turns on the service.
A Netflix subscriber turns on the service. (Paul Sakum / Associated…)

Canada's largest telecommunications company plans to launch its own online movie service to compete with Netflix.

BCE Inc. Chief Executive George Cope outlined plans Monday to use the company's planned $3.38-billion acquisition of Astral Media Inc. -- a leading provider of English- and French-language pay television services -- to roll out the new service, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

Netflix introduced its service in Canada in September 2010, and had amassed 1 million subscribers 10 months later. The company has said it now reaches more than 10% of Canadian households with its selection of movies and TV shows.

"Our Canadian service continues to grow well -- in both subscribers and hours viewed," the company said in a statement that accompanied its second-quarter earnings report in July. "Similar to trends in the US ... median hours viewed per member were up year-over-year in Canada." 

Netflix has been aggressive about expanding into international markets. In addition to its Canadian launch, it rolled out the service in Latin America in 2011 and in Britain and Ireland this year. It has 3.6 million international subscribers, compared with 26.5 million in the U.S.

BCE, which owns Bell Canada, described plans for a service to challenge Netflix during hearings Monday in Montreal to consider the proposed acquisition of Astral Media. The company did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

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