Netflix talks up rights flexibility in Canada & not wanting to ‘upend local budgets’

Netflix’s Canadian execs Tara Woodbury and Danielle Woodrow have talked up the streamer’s rights flexibility in the country, as they attempted to correct “some of the misconceptions” about the global SVOD’s requirements.

Speaking on the final day of the BANFF World Media Festival, Netflix’s Woodbury – who was named manager of Canadian series in February 2021 – said there were some common beliefs about the streamer’s operations that needed correcting.

“One is do we need a finance plan to submit a project – the answer is, no. We’re creative first. If you have a script then its easiest for us to read that.”

Woodbury added that projects did not need to be packaged and added that the SVOD would be open to various models when it came to rights.

“We’re flexible, it’s on a case-by-case basis – so how the project came to us and at what stage, who is the team and have we had a deal with them before, how did that look. There are many factors that go into the decision and how we then agree a deal.”

Budgets, copros & co-licences

Coproductions would be considered, Woodbury added, but because the streamer wants shows “rooted in Canada… we need to know what the global appeal for the show will be and have a deeper creative conversation about where the audience lies for it.”

Co-license agreements, on the other hand, were talked up, with Woodbury pointing to Fakes, an upcoming young adult drama from Vancouver-based Reality Distortion Field, as one example. CBC holds Canadian first window rights, with Netflix taking rest of world.

“We are really open to co-licences with any of the domestic broadcasters, it’s an exciting opportunity to collaborate. We are definitely open to that conversation. It is creative first, and if we are all aligned on that front, then we can look at what the rest of the deal might look like.”

Woodbury said that all scripted ideas were being considered, adding that Canada’s indigenous production community “is on fire right now” and that the streamer was “leaning into local” in the country, as per its global approach. The two execs also confirmed that have control over greenlighting projects, with unscripted and licensing deals remaining under the purview of the US team.

She continued: “There are a lot of definitions of what makes a Canadian story but what is key is that we work with local storytellers and you share your stories with us.”

The discussion, moderated by Netflix’s head of scripted series for US & Canada Peter Friedlander, also touched on budgets for Canadian shows, although little detail was given.

“The last thing we want to do is come to Canada and upend the market,” Woodrow said. “The budget norms are our guideposts as we think about these shows, but we do want to offer budgets that support the creative vision.”

Woodbury also revealed her favourite Canadian show is Pixcom’s Audrey Est Revenue (Audrey Is Back), while Woodrow said classic horror flick Gingers Snaps would be her choice.

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