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Coronavirus: Netflix adds 16M subscribers worldwide amid COVID-19 pandemic – Global News



Netflix picked up subscribers in Canada to add nearly 16 million global customers during the first three months of the year, helping cement its status as one of the world’s most essential services in times of isolation or crisis.

The quarter spanned the beginning of stay-at-home orders in the U.S., Canada and around the world, a response to the coronavirus pandemic that apparently led millions to latch onto Netflix for entertainment and comfort when most had nowhere to be but home.

Netflix more than doubled the quarterly growth it predicted in January, well before the COVID-19 outbreak began to shut down many major economies. It was the biggest three-month gain in the 13-year history of Netflix’s streaming service.

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The numbers — released Tuesday as part of Netflix’s first-quarter earnings report — support a growing belief that video streaming is likely to thrive even as the overall U.S. economy sinks into its first recession in more than a decade.

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Over the past year, Netflix’s growth in the U.S. and Canada had slowed significantly. But the pandemic seems have to have reversed that trend for the moment. Netflix added 2.3 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada in the first quarter, up from 1.9 million at the same time last year.

However, it’s unclear from the way Netflix discloses its numbers how many of the new subscribers are from Canada. The company briefly provided figures at the end of 2019 which shed light on its customer base across the country, but it now prefers to lump its operations into regions.

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Weekend Entertainment: digital concerts, comedy and retrospectives

The company has previously said Canada represents roughly 10 per cent of its North American subscriber base, which would suggest it grew its subscribers here by 230,000 in Canada during the quarter, which compares to 125,000 paid sign-ups during the fourth quarter that ended Dec. 31, 2019.

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“We’re acutely aware that we are fortunate to have a service that is even more meaningful to people confined at home, and which we can operate remotely with minimal disruption,” Netflix said in a statement.

Investor optimism about Netflix’s prospects propelled the company’s stock to new highs recently, a sharp contrast with the decline in the broader market.

Netflix’s shares initially surged in after-hours trading after the first-quarter report came out, then drew back. The strengthening dollar will likely depress the company’s revenue from outside the U.S., including some of its fastest growing markets.

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That’s one reason Netflix’s revenue only climbed 17 per cent from last year to US$5.8 billion, even though it ended March with nearly 183 million worldwide subscribers, a 23 per cent increase from the same time last year. Netflix earned US$709 million in the first quarter, nearly triple from last year.

Netflix shares edged up by less than one per cent in Tuesday’s extended trading to US$437.37, leaving them below last week’s record high of US$449.52.

Even though it faces plenty of competition, Netflix appears better positioned to take advantage of the surging demand for TV shows and movies largely because of its head start in video streaming.

Since beginning its foray into original programming seven years ago, Netflix has built up a deep catalogue that can feed viewer appetites even though the pandemic response has shut down production on many new shows.

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Donald Trump asked if he’d consider pardoning “Tiger King” Joe Exotic

That stoppage could hurt Netflix as well, although analysts at Canaccord Genuity believe its video library will serve as a “content moat” that can keep most competitors at bay.

Ted Sarandos, chief content officer, reassured investors in a video interview that he doesn’t foresee troubles with Netflix’s future releases, because seasons of TV series are produced in full, long before they hit the service, unlike many traditional network TV programs.

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“Our 2020 slate of series and films are largely shot and are in post-production remotely in locations all over the world, and we’re actually pretty deep into our 2021 slate,” he said.

Sarandos pointed to production of “The Crown,” a dramatic series about the Royal Family, has already filmed and is “in finishing stages” for a release later this year.

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But there will be a few smaller hurdles along the way as Netflix’s production gets accustomed to the impacts of COVID-19.

The company said that home isolation in countries across the world has made it impossible to produce dubbed versions of some of its original programs “in Italian and some other languages” because the voice talent can’t access the required equipment. Those affected titles would be released in April and May, but a representative was not certain which films or TV series would be impacted and couldn’t say whether the French-language translations were being produced.

Netflix said it hopes to get voice actors set up in their homes to record future dubs.

Among its biggest challengers in the market is Walt Disney Co., whose recently launched streaming service is also stocked with perennial classics, especially for children who have even more free time than usual.

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That’s one of the big reasons Disney’s service has amassed 50 million subscribers and why Netflix is basking in another resurgence in popularity. Netflix predicted it will add 7.5 million subscribers from April through June. That’s nearly three times more than its average springtime gain of 2.7 million subscribers during the past seven years.

“Since we have a large library with thousands of titles for viewing and very strong recommendations, our member satisfaction may be less impacted than our peers,” Netflix boasted in its report.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Alberta's campers turn to public land due to COVID-19 –



On Monday the province’s campgrounds will reopen but COVID-19 restrictions will keep half the sites closed

Campgrounds in Alberta’s national parks will remain closed until at least June 21.

Meanwhile, British Columbia and Saskatchewan have followed Alberta and closed their campgrounds to out of province visitors.

If the Crown Land Camping Alberta Facebook group, recently launched by Calgarian Ryan Epp, is any indication, many Albertans are looking for alternatives.

In the seven weeks since launching the page, Epp has welcomed nearly 29,000 members with more joining all the time.

“I started it up basically looking to find some new people to go camping with,” Epp said. “I was expecting to get maybe 50, 60 people to join up.

“We’re still growing at almost a thousand a day,” he told CBC News. “It’s been crazy.” 

Epp believes the interest in his group is connected to conventional campgrounds being closed or restricted.

Ryan Epp and his friends circle the wagons at an undisclosed spot somewhere on Alberta’s public lands. (Ryan Epp)

Now he’s sharing his knowledge with people who have never used Crown land before, something the 46-year-old has been doing since he was a kid.

“We’d hit the forestry trunk road with our tents and some other family friends,” he said.

As an adult, Epp upgraded to a tent trailer and he’s recently purchased a hard-walled trailer.

“It’s got bathroom facilities and a water tank and everything, it’s a little more comfortable,” he said. “I’ve got a generator to supply power so that way I’m all set-up.”

It’s a long way from the five-gallon pail he once used for a toilet.

“There’s no services, so there’s no water, no electricity, no toilet facilities,” Epp said. “If you head out there you have to have all that with you.”

Camping on crown land usually can mean fewer neighbours. (Ryan Epp)

Epp is also quick to remind members of the etiquette and rules when it comes to Crown land camping.

“The big one with a lot of us is we try to haul out more than we take in,” he said. “We look for garbage, we’ll pick it up and bring it out.”

There are options for those looking for peace and quiet and options for those who might want to let loose and make a little noise.

“It’s so much more quiet,” he said. “If you want to make more noise you can because there’s not really anyone right beside you that you’re going to disturb.”

Epp says there are also Crown land camping areas ideal for specific hobbies like quading or fishing. The tricky part is finding those spots and Epp is fielding a lot of questions from people wanting to know where to go.

Albertans may have to get off the beaten path to find those special camping spots on public land. (Ryan Epp)

“We all have our secret spots that we’re not going to divulge to anybody,” he said. “The fun of it is going out and scouting out and finding your own secret spot to go to because there’s thousands upon thousands of kilometres to travel and find these throughout Crown land.”

CJ Blye, a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta in the faculty of kinesiology, sport and recreation, agrees.

“There are a lot of places; actually 60 per cent of the province is public land,” Blye said.

“We do have a number of wildland provincial parks that are north of Edmonton and then most of our public land use zones follow along that Rocky Mountain corridor all the way down to the south of the province.”

Much of the land is not easily accessible and Blye encourages people to check regulations before heading out.

Each public-land-use zone has its own rules and regulations, which are more important than ever, Blye said.

A room with a view. (Ryan Epp)

“The pressure that we’re going to be placing on our natural areas will be more significant because we’re going to see more folks wanting to get out,” she said.

“We want to be really careful that we’re not overloading our natural environments.

“Leave no trace camping and leave no trace travel is a great way to look at how we can be in these areas and reduce our impact,” she said.

Blye encourages people to check the online information provided by the provincial government and Alberta Parks before they head out.

Nobody from the province would talk about the pressure on Crown land.

In an email, Jess Sinclair, press secretary for the minister of Environment and Parks, said that over the May long weekend, staff saw an increase in public land use in parts of southern and central Alberta.

“It remains to be seen if campers that traditionally use our provincial parks will increasingly move onto public land for their fill of outdoor recreation,” Sinclair said. 

Sinclair urges users pack out what they pack in and limit stays in one spot to 14 days.

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30-day limit on prescriptions in Ontario expected to end by July 1; Ontario completes more than 20000 coronavirus tests in a day for the first time – Toronto Star



The latest novel coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Sunday (this file will be updated throughout the day). Web links to longer stories if available.

9 a.m.: Pope Francis cheerfully greeted people in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, as he resumed his practice of speaking to the faithful there for the first time since a coronavirus lockdown began in Italy and at the Vatican in early March.

Instead of the tens of thousands of people who might have turned out on a similarly sunny day like in pre-pandemic times, perhaps a few hundred came to the square on Sunday, standing well apart from others or in small family groups.

Until June 3, people aren’t allowed to travel between regions in Italy or arrive from abroad for tourism, so the people in the square came from Rome or places in the region.

Noting this was the first time he could greet people in the square for weeks, Francis said that “one doesn’t emerge from a crisis the same. You either come out better or you come out worse.” He said he’d be back to greet them next Sunday in the same place at noon, smiling and pointing down to the vast square far below his studio window.

8 a.m.: India reported more than 8,000 new cases of the coronavirus in a single day, another record high that topped the deadliest week in the country.

Confirmed infections have risen to 182,143, with 5,164 fatalities, including 193 in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

Overall, more than 60 per cent of the virus fatalities have been reported from only two states — Maharashtra, the financial hub, and Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The new cases are largely concentrated in six Indian states, including the capital New Delhi.

There are concerns the virus may be spreading through India’s villages as millions of jobless migrant workers return home from cities during the lockdown. Experts warn that the pandemic is yet to peak in India.

7:45 a.m.: Russia reported 9,268 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, the first time in a week that the daily tally exceeded 9,000, but the lowest death toll in several days: 138.

Overall, Russia has recorded 405,843 cases and 4,693 deaths from COVID-19. The relatively low mortality rate compared with other countries has prompted skepticism domestically and abroad.

7 a.m.:Ontarians who rely on prescription medication will hopefully see an onerous COVID-19 precaution lifted by the end of June.

A 30-day limit on prescriptions was brought in by the Ontario government in the early days of the pandemic in an effort to prevent drug shortages. Spokespeople for Ontario’s seniors community and the province’s pharmacy industry say they expect the limitation will be lifted within the month, returning to the usual 90-day maximum by July 1.

“It’s been a difficult policy,” said Justin Bates, the chief executive officer of the Ontario Pharmacists Association. “We stand by the policy, we think it was the right thing to do, but I think everybody’s hopeful that we can get back to 90 days and to a normal cycle of quantity.”

11 p.m: The Toronto Raptors issued a statement late Saturday, as protests escalated across North America in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed in Minneapolis after a police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes.

The Raptors put out the statement hours after thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday demanding justice for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, three days after the 29-year-old woman fell to her death from a High Park highrise, in an incident that is now under investigation by Ontario’s civilian police watchdog.

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Read the full story from Laura Armstrong here.

Saturday, 7 p.m. Ontario’s regional health units are reporting 320 new COVID-19 infections, according to the Star’s latest count.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, the health units had reported a total of 29,212 confirmed and probable cases, including 2,316 deaths. The daily counts have fallen from a spike that saw totals above 400 cases per day most of last week.

Saturday’s tally included 123 new cases in Toronto and 114 more in Peel Region; together, the two health units accounted for nearly three-quarters of the province’s new infections.

According to a provincial database of COVID-19 cases, nearly 80 per cent of the 3,933 Ontarians with an active case of COVID-19 reside in the GTA, with nearly 85 per cent of those in Toronto or Peel Region.

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Canadian airlines could ‘fail’ if forced to refund passengers



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Canadian airlines could ‘fail’ if forced to refund passengers, says transport minister

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says that Canadian airlines could go bankrupt if the ailing industry is compelled to refund passengers billions of dollars for flights cancelled due to the pandemic.

“I have said many times that I have enormous sympathy for those who would have preferred to have a cash refund in these difficult circumstances. It is far from being an ideal situation,” Garneau told a press conference earlier today.

“At the same time, if airlines had to immediately reimburse all cancelled tickets, it would have a devastating effect on the air sector, which has been reeling since the COVID 19 pandemic started.”

Garneau was doubling down on a message he delivered to the House of Commons’ pandemic committee on Thursday, when he warned MPs that if airlines “had to reimburse at this time, some of them could fail.”

The minister said today it’s his responsibility to help Canada’s airlines survive the pandemic.

“It is so essential for this country,” he said. “This is the second largest country on Earth, with its distances and remote areas, and we expect and need an airline industry in this country.”

<p class=”canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm” type=”text” content=”Watch | Reporters question Marc&nbsp;Garneau&nbsp;about airline ticket refunds” data-reactid=”38″>Watch | Reporters question Marc Garneau about airline ticket refunds

But his response isn’t sitting well with Canadians struggling financially during the pandemic who argue it’s their right as consumers to get their money back for flights they never took.

“It’s very disappointing and frustrating,” said Tammie Fang, a health care essential worker in B.C. “My rights as a consumer have been put aside to help balance the airline industry.”

Fang works at a New Westminster hospital assisting with open-heart surgeries. She said she spends much of her spare time calling and emailing Air Transat seeking a refund of roughly $500 for a flight to Toronto she never took. She describes it as an extra burden during an already stressful and financially challenging time.

“It’s disheartening,” she said. “It’s unbelievable how much effort we have to put in.”

<p class=”canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm” type=”text” content=”Airlines’ survival versus consumers’ rights” data-reactid=”43″>Airlines’ survival versus consumers’ rights

Canada’s airline industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and most of the country’s airline fleet is sitting idle at airports across the country. Airlines are losing 90 per cent of their normal revenue streams and some have put their operations completely on pause.

At the same time, pressure is mounting on the federal government to step in and force airlines to pay back passengers who also are struggling financially. Two petitions with more than 30,000 signatures combined have been submitted to Parliament in recent weeks calling on the government to demand that airlines tapping into taxpayer-funded government supports reimburse grounded passengers.

Nick Oxford/ReutersNick Oxford/Reuters

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Nick Oxford/Reuters

<p class=”canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm” type=”text” content=”Billions tied up in refunds” data-reactid=”66″>Billions tied up in refunds

For the most part, Canadian airlines are offering those passengers travel vouchers redeemable for two years. Air Canada also announced last week that it’s allowing people to transfer their tickets to others, which could permit ticket holders to sell them. The Canadian Transportation Agency has said offering vouchers could be a reasonable measure in the current circumstances.

Garneau’s office said it would cost airlines billions of dollars to refund customers. When CBC asked Transport Canada for specific numbers, it was told the figures the government receives from airlines amount to proprietary information that it isn’t authorized to release.

Air Canada’s books are open, since it’s a publicly traded company. It has about $2.6 billion tied up in ticket sales for future travel over the next year.

On March 16, the airline said its current liquidity level was $6.3 billion — a record level — and its balance sheet was solid. Since then, Air Canada has said it’s burning $22 million a day in operating costs and plans to reduce its workforce by 50 to 60 per cent. The company said a dramatic drop in demand during the pandemic caused the airline to slash its flight capacity by 95 per cent.

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Outside Rideau Cottage today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeated a message he’s delivered in the past — that the government has to strike the right balance between keeping airlines afloat and preserving consumers’ rights.

“I hear clearly the concerns that Canadians have around their air tickets,” said Trudeau. “We will continue to work with the industry and with concerned groups of Canadians to ensure that we find a fair way through this.

“But I know Canadians at the same time want to make sure we continue to have an airline industry after this very difficult pandemic.”

The government is in talks with airlines and is looking to see what other countries have done with travel refunds. It’s expected to deliver an update on the file in the coming weeks.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian PressAdrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Source: Yahoo News Canada

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Edited By Harry Miller

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