Canada / Analyst Insights
Opportunities and Challenges: Film and TV Production in Canada

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by Eva Koronios, Industry Research Analyst
Jul 20 2020

As Canada begins the tentative process of reopening some of its industries, the Movie, TV and Video Production industry in Canada (IBISWorld report 51211CA) is just one of many eager to get back to business. Although industry operators have not fared as badly compared with those in the neighbouring United States, whose own entertainment production industry remains largely shuttered, industry revenue is nevertheless projected to decrease 4.3% in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Moving forward, however, both American and Canadian content creators are once again resuming production operations in Canada despite the presence of travel restrictions. Major production centres such as Toronto are distributing film permits, and the province of British Columbia has sanctioned film and TV production operations as long as employers follow COVID-19 Safety Plans. Yet uncertainty abounds, with the future of the industry remaining murky at best. Read on for IBISWorld’s analysis of the opportunities and challenges inherent to the Movie, TV and Video Production industry as its estimated 16,801 operators carve out a new normal amid the ongoing pandemic.

Opportunities

In 2017, Netflix made a deal with the Canadian government in which the online streaming service would spend at least $400.0 million on Canadian film and TV investment through 2022. To this end, Netflix established so-called “production hubs” in both Toronto and Vancouver, with the latter already possessing a history as a long-established centre for industry activity.

On July 16 Netflix officially announced that it would be accepting English-language pitch proposals from Canadian creators until August 5. These proposals are not limited to a particular genre, and may encompass either film or TV projects. In doing so, Netflix is adhering to the terms of its 2017 deal with the Canadian government; at the same time, it is also providing movie, TV and video producers the opportunity to resume industry operations on a strong note while giving them a wide-reaching platform for Canadian stories.

Moreover, the province of Quebec has announced the implementation of a temporary program meant to support the Canadian film and TV industry. The $51.0 million program is meant to assist in facilitating the resumption of the domestic industry’s production operations. While the details of the plan are in the process of being worked out, the program comprises just one aspect of the province’s Cultural Economic Recovery Plan, and acts as a further boost to domestic industry operations during such trying times.

 

 

Challenges

Overall, a lack of health insurance coverage for the coronavirus poses the single greatest challenge to film and TV production in Canada. The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) reported that the health insurance companies responsible for providing coverage to the industry are excluding the novel coronavirus from their new production policies.

If this persists, then any Canadian productions that did not have insurance policies in place before the pandemic hit cannot resume their operations now that doing so is permissible, if only because they are simply unable to absorb the financial risk should the virus shut down their project(s) once more. This is especially pertinent as regards independent producers, who do not often have the same resources at their disposal compared with larger, more financially stable production houses.

At the moment, the CMPA has been working on a solution to the issue, and has sought government cooperation to help achieve its goals. However, with the agreement not yet ironed out, operators are understandably wary of going back into production, even as the federal government rolls back its restrictions.  

Overall, with favorable partnerships and support from relief programs, the industry landscape is improving despite the continuing risks the pandemic poses.