Streaming Killed the Video Store

I started a GoFundMe campaign last week.

It’s my first one, so there’s that.

The purpose: to encourage the community to help a local business owner pay off several Covid-related debts.

Here’s the link. Please make a contribution if you can.


A video rental store is a dying breed these days.

Streaming has killed the video rental store.

Let’s face it: most consumers don’t even have players any more.

Between Netflix, Prime, Apple+, DisneyPlus and a myriad of other players entering the market, fans looking to be entertained don’t have to look much further than their remote control and credit card.

But what also happened to local retailers is that the distribution of popular shows just doesn’t happen any more. Key titles are held back for subscribers, not fickle renters.

A media ‘perfect storm’ materialized during the Covid pandemic just to compound the impact. With lockdowns in place, people had no choice but to stay at home and browse online.

But Wait … There’s More

Various levels of government in Canada and a multitude of organizations – primarily libraries – have a nasty habit of buying and subsidizing Canadian media giants, including PostMedia, the Globe and Mail, Bell, Rogers, Shaw and others.

These companies own an array of newspapers, magazines and digital media that are bought each year by multiple levels of government and libraries across Canada.

It’s impossible to get a sense of what the value of these purchases are, but the Toronto Public Library spends roughly $21 million per year on ‘library materials’. I’m not sure if that’s what they spend on just magazines, but even if it’s a fraction … it’s a LOT. Multiply that by the hundreds of libraries across Canada and you begin to understand how much is at stake here.

Of course, Canada spent $500 million on Netflix to entice them to develop more Canadian content. This might be happening, but the reality is that the mandate of any public company is to maximize distribution to shareholders or to maximize share value … for shareholders. I suppose we’ll see some content, but most of it will likely be American content produced with Canadian input.

By the way, Netflix doesn’t pay Canadian taxes.

The Canadian Media Fund

Pierre Poilievre high-fived himself (probably because no one else was in the room) when he got fellow demagogue to label the CBC as ‘government-funded media’ on Twitter. CBC blinked and withdrew, leaving an enormous vacuum of reliable information on the social media platform.


What a mess this thing is.

What was missed by PP is that the fund was started by his previous (and possibly current) boss, Stephen Harper.

More than $750 million per year is spent on a multitude of productions.

Given the depth and breadth of the Canadian Media Fund, pretty much every source of media and journalism in Canada is ‘government-funded media’.

Then, there’s the Canadian Periodical Fund.

In 2022, the federal Liberals doubled-down on the existing funds and announced a massive annual subsidy to support journalists across the country.

Feedback from Canadaland:

Analysis by the independent news outlet CANADALAND, which broke the We scandal story, shows “newsroom employees — those spending at least three quarters of their time contributing to the production of ‘original written news content’ — get 25 per cent of their salaries covered by the government, up to a maximum of $13,750 per person.”

That government money could be the deciding factor in keeping a newsroom position or not.

This is a whopping $600 million per year that will wind up in the pockets of private media companies.

What Does All This Have to do with a Video Store?

Let’s face it: a small shop can’t stand against the tsunami wave of new options for consumers of entertainment, news and other media.

BUT … if our governments are spending billions per year – mostly on legacy companies that are not the CBC – shouldn’t we at least try to balance the books a little?

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