Stream And Shout – Streaming Giants Face A New Kind Of Maple Tax

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It’s happening in Canada but this can (and might) happen everywhere, so pay attention.

Canada’s new regulation has shaken up the streaming world, mandating that major players like Netflix and Spotify fork over 5% of their Canadian revenue to support local content creation.
This could pump $200 million annually into the Canadian broadcast system, funding local news, French-language content, Indigenous programming and more (would that even move the needle?).

But let’s pause for a second… is this really the best move for Canadian media?

Sure, supporting local content sounds great (I’m all in on this), but who ultimately foots the bill?
It’s likely us, the consumers (the streaming platforms will simply increase their monthly fee or we will pay more taxes, right?).
Will Netflix and Spotify raise their prices to cover this new fee?
It seems like we’re facing streamflation anyways.

Everything is getting more expensive these days.

And what happens if these streaming giants decide it’s not worth the hassle and just pull out of Canada altogether?
Could we be facing a scenario like Facebook did with news in Canada (for those who don’t remember, Canadians can no longer share/get news on Facebook), leaving us with fewer choices?
This regulation follows the Online Streaming Act of 2023, a step towards modernizing the Canadian broadcasting system.

But are we trying to solve 2024 problems with a 1960s solution?

With the advent of the social web, do young Indigenous creators or local French-language content producers really need this kind of support to be heard?
They’re already killing it on platforms like TikTok and YouTube without any help from the CRTC.
And we know how that works: Prove your value with an audience and the big players always show up with some bags of money to cash in on that success (and create a greater channel of distribution).

And what about the culture?

Elevating local voices is crucial, but can’t we do it in a way that naturally fosters interest and engagement?
Look at the countless media success stories like Vice (initially… not how it ended), which started as a small Montreal newspaper and scaled globally… Or think about the South Korean Netflix hit Squid Game, which became a global sensation not because of regulations, but because it was compelling content… or think about the countless TikTok local influencers who captivate your imagination.

It’s essential to support our creators, but is slapping a tax on streaming services really the best path forward?

Shouldn’t we focus on making our culture so engaging that these platforms can’t help but want to feature local content?
And let’s not forget, some of these services already invest heavily in Canadian productions.
We even have Canadian-created streaming services like Crave and CBC Gem… how are they performing in terms of customer demand?

Are we risking all this for a regulatory quick fix?

Improving our media landscape isn’t just about money – it’s about making our culture vibrant and exciting.
Let’s think about how we can elevate Canadian content in a way that makes everyone – from streamers to consumers – a winner.

How could we balance support for local content with the realities of the global streaming market?

This is what David Heurtel and I discussed on CJAD 800 AM. Listen in right here.

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