The Web is About to Obliterate Canada’s Entertainment Industry. Here’s How to Save It

Canada’s entertainment industry is under fire. The web is the shooter. And, if you hear it from Quebecor’s chief executive, our nation currently has little armour with which to defend itself.

Pierre Paeladeau warned this week that web-based providers are penetrating the Canadian market – and could overtake it if we don’t act fast. His solution? Create globally appealing content, television shows that reach far beyond our country’s borders.

“How TV is watched and distributed is changing rapidly,” Mr. Peladeau said at an annual industry even in France. “TV networks are not the be all and end all anymore.”

“If we still want a vibrant Quebec and Canadian TV industry in 20 years, we have to start developing strong original concepts that will be popular across platforms and across markets,” he continued. “This is the only way we’ll be able to make a mark in the world of digital distribution, [and] generate the necessary funding to keep our local industry going.”

“Audiences are rapidly changing, and if you want to keep up with them, you have to program on YouTube,” affirmed Robert Kyncl of Google said during an afternoon presentation at the event.

Building on the launch of 100 dedicated channels last year at a cost of $100-million, Google has added new YouTube channels with popular celebrities such as British chef Jamie Oliver and U.S. comedian Sarah Silverman. Two new offerings from BBC Worldwide, one dedicated to science the other to nature, have been launched as well among others.

Mr. Kyncl says that YouTube’s top 25 channels receive more than one million views worldwide per week. That’s about a third of what a hit TV show usually draws on a weeknight in Canada. On YouTube, 800 million viewers are watching four billion hours of content per month.

“So great is YouTube’s audience, many content brands already view it as the most important platform to which to publish their work,” PaidContent claims.

“We want the next Office, Big Brother, Top Chef to be Canadian,” Mr. Peladeau said. “For that, we need to really [focus] our funding infrastructure from being strictly locally focused to also being export focused.  We need to position our industry on the global scene or face extinction,” the executive said.”

“We lived through it with music,” he pointed out in conclusion. “There’s no reason why technological distribution alternatives will not apply to television shows the same way – we’re living through it at the cable business right now.”