Yesterday was a big day for Netflix as it launched its streaming video service in Canada, but the company has some egg on its face after it appeared as though it paid actors to pretend to be excited during the announcement.
Netflix took over a busy street in Toronto for a media event to celebrate the big launch, but apparently it had to jump through some hoops with local police to do so. It could only get them to close the street by saying it was shooting a promotional video. So it hired a few actors to appear for that.
But then, according to Netflix, these actors went rogue and attended the official press briefing. During the event these individuals misrepresented themselves, toted the company line with canned responses, and pretended to be regular ordinary people.
The responses were so robotic that other, real members of the Canadian press started questioning their identity. That's when it was revealed they were actors. Now Netflix is back-tracking, saying it never told these hired hands to attend the press briefing or to make any comments to any media outlets.
The Canadian Press reportedly obtained a copy of the script given to these actors, which reads in part, "Extras are to behave as members of the public, out and about enjoying their day-to-day life, who happen upon a street event for Netflix and stop by to check it out."
Netflix spokesperson Steve Swasey says the company is "embarrassed" by the ordeal, adding, "Some of [them] just got carried away. We did not pay them to attend the press event. We didn't need to. The event was very well attended."
Canadians all over the country all celebrating whether or not they went to the Toronto event. After years of seeing their American neighbors get instant access to thousands of hours of movies and TV shows, the service is finally available to them. It's the first expansion outside the US for Netflix and marks a giant step forward for the streaming video market. There are, however, no plans to brings Netflix's DVD-by-mail rental service to Canada.