Rogers Teams Up With Netflix for Canadian-Produced Drama

Rogers Communications Inc., Canada’s largest cable operator, is teaming up with Netflix Inc. to produce a drama series that will air on both companies’ online-streaming services, a first for the country.

“Between,” the story of a quarantined town decimated by a mysterious illness, will run on Rogers’s shomi streaming service as well as on its City TV channel, according to a statement today. The show will also be available on Netflix throughout the rest of the world, the companies said.

The collaboration is the first time Netflix has formed a partnership with a Canadian company to create original programming. Last month, Canada’s telecommunications regulator criticized Netflix, the biggest online streaming service, for not being transparent with data on how much Canadian content is watched on its service. Netflix wouldn’t disclose the information, saying it was competitively sensitive.

“The smarter players in the world are taking opportunities to reach out and partner with those in the business that are the disruptors,” Greg MacDonald, an analyst with Macquarie Group Ltd. in Toronto, said in an interview. Companies like Rogers are taking an “if you can’t beat them, join them approach to make sure they understand the disruption trends and they don’t suffer,” he said.

MacDonald has a neutral rating on Rogers’s shares.

Canadian Customers

Rogers, based in Toronto, and Shaw Communications Inc. introduced shomi in August with plans to initially offer the service to existing customers. Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, has so far signed up 4 million Canadian customers, according to Adam Shine, an analyst at National Bank of Canada.

“It’s positive news. I just wonder how far it can go,” said Dvai Ghose, a Toronto-based analyst with Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. Rogers and other Canadian cable companies like BCE Inc. and Shaw, which also own phone networks, will still compete with Netflix’s global reach and buying power, Ghose said by phone. He has a buy rating on Rogers.

“Why spend all this time and effort putting together content and competing against Netflix when it’s not even your core business?” he said.

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