Some theories on why Canadians are the #1 user of YouTube (it's not all good)

In theory I’m on break – trying to recharge my batteries, summit mount inbox zero and finish off a couple of papers I owe various good people – but a few people have sent me links to this story (same content here at the CBC), about how Canadians are embrace the web like few others citizens of the world.

Naturally I’m thrilled and unsurprised. Canadians live in a large country and connectivity has always been something that has driven us. Indeed the country as we know it only exists because of a deal on connectivity – my own province of British Columbia agreed to enter the Dominion only if a transcontinental railway was built to connect it with the rest of the emerging country. Connectivity is in our blood.

There is, however, I suspect another reason why Canadians have taken to the web and it has to do with our monopolies and content regulation.

The article notes that Canada is the number one viewer of YouTube videos:

“In Canada, YouTube per capita consumption of video is No. 1 in the world, it’s just absolutely crazy in terms of how passionate Canadians are about YouTube,” said Chris O’Neill, Canada’s country director for Google.

I wonder, however, if this is because of Canada’s proximity to and familiarity with American created content, but our limited access to seeing said content. The CRTC restricts Canadians access to US channels (and as a result, TV shows). Consequently, much like I argued that the continued success of Blockbuster in Canada is not a sign of effective corporate management but poor innovation strategy and telecommunication regulation Canadians may be flooding to YouTube because they can’t access the content they want through more traditional channels.

If true (and I concede I don’t know what Canadians are watching on YouTube) then on the brightside, this is good news for Canadian consumers are able to get what they want access to, regardless of how the government tries to shape their tastes. Indeed, I suspect that American content isn’t the only thing driving YouTube traffic, as a country of immigrants I’m sure that new (and longstanding) Canadians of a range of backgrounds use YouTube to stay on top of culture, shows and other content from their countries of origin. If all this is helping Canadians become more web savvy and appreciative of the benefits of an open web – then all the better!

On the flip side, this could be a sign that a whole series of Canadian companies (and the jobs they create) are imperiled because they refuse to innovate as quickly as Canadians would like. This isn’t a reason to preserve them, but it is a reason for us to start demanding more from the executives of these companies.

7 thoughts on “Some theories on why Canadians are the #1 user of YouTube (it's not all good)

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention New on Some theories on why Canadians are the #1 user of YouTube (it's not #crtc #government #innovation --

  2. Skinny Dipper

    I do like cats doing stupid tricks.

    Seriously, as Canadians, we need to become aware that we are participating in a global media world. Soon, our Canadian Tire commercials will be produced in Chile. Film producers will be going to Singapore to get that “Toronto” film set look. One of my biggest complaints was not being able to see the Mr. Bean movie at the same time as the Brits and Aussies. I went to my local Chinese DVD retailer and got myself a copy. I couldn’t wait another six months before the movie arrived in Canada.

    I do watch on YouTube movies and programs that I cannot get in Canada. I would gladly pay a reasonable fee or watch commercials in order to access a higher quality picture. The CRTC and broadcast companies will need to realize that we living in a global media society.

  3. Wayne Borean

    There are a bunch of questions I can think of:

    1) Do we want to have a Canadian video industry?
    2) What are Canadians watching? I just spent an hour looking for TV episodes, and found none.
    3) Is Usage Based Billing hurting Canadian innovators?
    4) How do TV and YouTube relate – are they used for the same things?
    5) Where does ITunes come into this?

    I’m a bad person to ask. I don’t watch a lot of TV, and my DVD collection is heavily biased towards Canadian and British television. Consider the disaster that the Americans made out of that wonderful BBC production ‘Life on Mars’ for example. Most American TV really isn’t all that good.

    Or to be brutally truthful – most American TV is total trash.


    1. David Eaves

      Wayne – this really wasn’t a post about the quality of US television (which has many great shows, 6 feet under, Band of Brothers, the daily show, Life, among innumerable others). It’s about Canadians access to global content and how they are (potentially) turning to youtube to do it.

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