Netflix Canada vs. Netflix USA

It’s been almost a month since we cut the cable television cord. Save for not being able to watch Compass (why oh why can’t CBC encode Compass for iOS?), I’ve absolutely no regrets. I’ve no desire to see any of the new TV season because I have no idea what’s on the new TV season because TV hasn’t been promoting the new TV season to me. And I’ve fallen completely out of touch with what’s new in the Swiffer space, as I’ve not see a TV commercial for weeks.

Which is not to say we’re not watching television: we’re watching Netflix (via the Wii) and, on occasion, Crackle (on the iPad, albeit frustratedly because it doesn’t support video-out to the TV).

I love Netflix and I hate it: just when I think I’m going to hate it enough to sign off, I find a great documentary like It Might Get Loud or a great drama like Weeds (which I watched four seasons of very quickly and happily). Which makes up for the seemingly endless stream of straight-to-video movies, repackaged TED videos and good movies I’ve already seen.

One of the almost-completely-useful features of Netflix is its “Top 10 for Peter” feature (I wonder if it’s called “Top 10 for Peter” for everyone?): it almost never seems to change, there doesn’t seem to be any way, at least on the Wii, to take things off the list, and it generally recommends things I’ve already seen elsewhere (which I suppose means its taste engine is working) or that I have no interest in at all (which means that it isn’t).

Here’s what the “Top 10 for Peter” list recommends for me right now:

  1. Mad Men (I’ve seen every episode elsewhere)
  2. Arrested Development (I’ve seen every episode, on the CBC)
  3. MI-5 (I’ve seen every episode, including 2 seasons Netflix doesn’t have yet)
  4. Being Human (no interest)
  5. Hell on Wheels (no interest)
  6. Wallander (I tried, I really tried, but, in the end, no)
  7. Torchwood (no interest)
  8. The Forsyth Saga (no interest)
  9. The IT Crowd (no interest)
  10. Numbers (I’ve seen every episode, on broadcast TV)

For interest I turned on a US proxy server and looked at what Netfllx in the US recommends for me; here’s American Peter’s Top 10, which has no overlap with Netflix Canada’s recommendations; most of these shows I’ve never ever heard of:

  1. Wilfred
  2. Warehouse 13
  3. Mythbusters (watched on Discovery channel on cable)
  4. Thor
  5. Alphas
  6. Louie
  7. Battlestar Galactica (and not the old series offered in Canada)
  8. Limitless
  9. Parenthood
  10. Flashpoint

I note also that there are two additional seasons of Weeds available on Netflix US (reason enough, perhaps, to set up a proxy server at home?), along with a much different selection of movies. It’s odd how I have a single international Netflix account, which a single taste profile that adapts to the content available in the jurisdiction my IP address reveals me to be in; much preferred, I suppose, to the usual “sorry, but you’re account can not be used in this country” that other services present.

Update: just after posting this, after not changing for many weeks, my “Top 10 for Peter” on Netflix Canada suddenly rebooted; the new version is:

  1. Being Erica
  2. Leverage
  3. The Glades
  4. Carnage
  5. Californication
  6. Hotel Babylon
  7. Jericho
  8. TED “Head Games”
  9. Luther
  10. Another Earth

More diversity there, and more things I haven’t seen. Let’s see how this goes.


Ken's picture
Ken on September 15, 2012 - 02:27 Permalink

You might like The Larry Sandes Show.
I really liked It Might Get Loud.

Dan Misener's picture
Dan Misener on September 16, 2012 - 18:13 Permalink

Re: “why oh why can’t CBC encode Compass for iOS?” — they can, and do.

Somewhere out there, sitting on an Akamai-owned RTMP server, there are bunch of files that contain episodes of Compass, and they’re named like this: Charlottetown-16_59_51-2012-09-13.mp4

These files are downloadable, but it’s a pain in the neck. For more, see…

Andrew M's picture
Andrew M on September 19, 2012 - 15:32 Permalink

I’ve found the best way to manage Netflix is on the laptop interface where you can say not interested. If you are proactive in keeping up with new additions you can make the stuff you don’t want to see mostly disappear from your feeds. It is a bit of work at first slogging through the hundreds of awful movies on there and saying not interested but once complete it makes Netflix even in its impoverished Canadian state a better service.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on September 19, 2012 - 16:00 Permalink

I agree: the web interface to Netflix is the most feature-rich, both for the reasons you describe, and also because it allows search by actor, director and genre, which the Wii and iPad apps do not.

Josh Qureshi's picture
Josh Qureshi on October 12, 2012 - 21:39 Permalink

I got Wii as well but cant find any info on how to set-it up so I can watch US netflix here in Canada. Mind sharing how you did that on your Wii?

Josh Q.

Josh Loewen's picture
Josh Loewen on November 26, 2012 - 00:24 Permalink

Hey everyone, I just launched a new site for comparing Netflix Canada to the USA.…

What I’ve done is list EVERYTHING available in either region, and then beside each it says “CAN”, “USA”, or both to show you which regions they are available on. It sure is obvious from these lists that there is a lot more available in the USA, however a lot of the American titles aren’t very impressive (2-Headed Shark Attack????)

Brad's picture
Brad on December 8, 2012 - 02:57 Permalink

I too have been ultra frustrated by both the network TV and Netflix alike. Just wondering if U.S. version was worth it to proxy? If So how did you do this and what service did you use?

Lawl's picture
Lawl on December 11, 2012 - 04:25 Permalink

No interest in IT Crowd? I stopped reading right there, you’re opinion means nothing to me, you don’t have good taste.

Rama's picture
Rama on February 7, 2013 - 22:11 Permalink

…why oh why can’t CBC encode Compass for iOS?…” Because iOS is *maybe* at best 19% market share of the mobile market.…

Poppa's picture
Poppa on February 10, 2013 - 17:03 Permalink

Put an antenna on you roof or in your attic, and get the free 1080i HD feed of all the network channels over the air. Just like everyone used to do before cable. That way you can get your CBC.

Steve's picture
Steve on May 25, 2013 - 13:03 Permalink

HI Peter,
Thanks for the blog post. I will probably sign up for a proxy and try out what they watch south of the border. Does your experience extend to network television feeds? I have heard that some episodes are available within days of airing on network TV, like say, NCIS or Grey’s Anatomy?
Lastly, I urge you to give Torchwood a try, but if you are not a Dr Who fan it might not be up your alley. Hell on Wheels is also quite good, I watched it on AMC.