I’ve been gorging on a lot of UK crime dramas lately, though crime shows have rarely been my preferred series of choice (there’s a The Wire exception to every rule though). Luther might have been the first I devoured, but it’s been followed by The Fall, Happy Valley, Scott & Bailey, and Broadchurch. I tried others and found they weren’t to my taste: Inspector Morse and Midsommer Murders are two I remember. Some UK not-crime dramas slipped into my heart, too: Call The Midwife, The Bletchley Circle.
US series have the advantage of all the marketing money in the world and being widely covered in Canadian media, and Sherlock Holmes and Downton Abbey have become mainstream North American water cooler shows, but how did I discover all these UK series? Netflix. One after another, Netflix told me I’d probably like them, and Netflix is often right.
One of the interesting aspects of last week’s TalkTV announcements was the CRTC’s intention to host a “Discoverability Summit” this fall to “bring together innovators and thought-leaders from the public and private sectors to explore how technology can be used to help viewers find programs made by Canadians.”
Great things happen when thought leaders get together, naturally. I sure hope those innovators consist of the people who thought up the Eye on Canada brand. That was super successful.
Sarcasm aside, very few Canadian series are on Netflix Canada, and that’s by design. Shaw, Rogers and Bell don’t want their programs on the evil empire, choosing instead to create their own walled garden streaming services where they can place their original series, unfettered by Netflix’s established, incredible recommendation engine.
I’m unlikely to be invited to this Discoverability Summit, but I have some ideas for the CRTC and the industry at large, free for the taking:
- Sell your damn shows to Netflix.
- Fund TV critic positions at all major newspapers in the country. Accept that these critics will not always cover or like your shows, and fund the positions anyway. Newspapers sure aren’t doing much of that lately.
- Hell, fund TV, eh? (I may have a slight bias here.)
- Run far, far away from attempts to brand all Canadian content as though it’s the brand and not the show that matters (hi, Eye on Canada). In fact run from anything that smacks of “build it and they will come”.
- Did I mention Netflix? I hear they buy shows.
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