12/05/2012 11:58 EST

Netflix Canada: Hunger Games Gets Canadian Streaming Release Ahead Of U.S.

FILE - In this image released by Lionsgate, Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen in a scene from "The Hunger Games." Lionsgate announced Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, that "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" filmmaker Francis Lawrence would also direct "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One" and "Part Two." (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Murray Close, File)

When it comes to American products in Canada, we all know the old refrain: Our Canadian versions — be it HBO, or Amazon, or Best Buy — don’t have the same selection as their U.S. counterparts.

But in a reversal of that frustrating trend, Netflix Canada has announced it’s bring the hit movie The Hunger Games to Canadian viewers before it reaches American Netflix subscribers.

The U.S.-based video streaming service signed a deal with film distributor Alliance Atlantis to release the film, based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling novel, exclusively on Netflix on December 31, the Hollywood Reporter notes.

We are excited to be the exclusive online home for the Hunger Games in Canada, and we think that our Canadian members are going to be thrilled with the latest addition to the service,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. “We are pleased that our continued relationship with Alliance benefits our subscribers directly.”


Netflix Fails

Netflix also announced this week that it has signed a deal with Disney to release its movies on the streaming service shortly after their theatrical run, beating pay TV to the punch.

The multiyear licensing agreement announced Tuesday represents a breakthrough for Netflix as it tries to secure more exclusive programming for a popular service that streams video over high-speed Internet connections. The approach is making Netflix more like traditional pay-TV channels such as HBO, Starz and Showtime.

Financial terms weren't disclosed, but analysts estimate that Netflix will pay Disney more than $350 million annually. That's a hefty bill that will require Netflix to accelerate its subscriber growth or consider raising its prices.

Netflix Canada currently charges $7.95 a month. Among its biggest obstacles to growth here are relatively low bandwidth caps that can make watching streaming movies prohibitively expensive for many internet customers.

At a tech conference earlier this year, Sarandos said Canada has “almost third-world access to the internet” due to the download caps and a relative lack of competition in internet service providers.

It’s almost a human rights violation what they’re charging for internet access in Canada,” he said.

Nonetheless, Netflix has achieved a certain measure of success in Canada, with a poll earlier this year showing that some 10 per cent of Canadians use the streaming service. Netflix now accounts for up to one-third of Internet traffic in Canada.

With files from The Associated Press