The Netflix Fix
In 20 years, I’ve seen virtually zero American television. Even CNN went out of favor for France 24 in English, the nation’s news TV channel devoted to “cover international current events from a French perspective and to convey French values throughout the world.” With the exception of the news, English language programming on French TV is relegated to a few old sitcoms and movies, that is if you subscribe to one of the movie packages on cable or satellite TV.
Let’s put it this way — programming has been limited. Sure, now that my French comprehension is better, I could tune into programs in French (not particularly relaxing!), but trust me, they are no better, except one or two channels such as Arte (Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne), “a Franco-German TV network, a European channel, that promotes programming in the areas of culture and the arts.” And if you want porn, there’s plenty of that on French TV free of charge and explicit (as long as you have your adult four-digit code giving you access).
So, I had this ‘bright’ idea to add Netflix to my TV.
You might think this is simple, but in Europe it’s not. Netflix on-demand-programming is currently only available to viewers in North and South America, the Caribbean, and certain parts of Europe (Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom), but not France. So, my Web technician sent me off to purchase a Roku streaming player (roku.com/) that would connect my TV in the bedroom to my high-speed Internet service in the living room. I ordered it online at $94.99 plus tax and shipping, had it sent to my sister’s house in the U.S., then brought it back in another suitcase costing another $96 thanks to Delta’s policy on extra baggage.
Then, I had to subscribe to “Unlocator,” a “Smart DNS Proxy” that allows one to unblock content that is locked in a particular location, such as Netflix, Canal Plus and the likes. That is $49.95 per year. The Netflix subscription was $7.99 per month.
The technician came to install the equipment. It was no easy task. It took seven hours (!) and his bill was $482.65. Now, the investment was up to $725 plus the annual subscription to Netflix, another $96…inching its way up to a grand…just to see some American TV. Yikes!
For over a month, the system wasn’t responding to the “IP address” (do we know what this really means?) and wouldn’t connect. It drove both me and my technician crazy. Actually, it drove me crazy and I, in turn, drove him crazy. At least he agreed to troubleshoot at no charge until we got it performing well…and now it does! Yeah!
But guess what? The day it finally started working “chez moi” was the day Netflix announced it was expanding its service to France! By year end, France is expected to be flush with such programming as “House of Cards,” and “Orange is the New Black.”
What a ‘bright’ idea that was to set up Netflix…8 months too early! Ugh.
Naturally, they’re setting up shop in Luxembourg to avoid French taxes (duh!) as well as protectionist regulations “requiring television providers based in France to support the French film industry” (duh!). Taxes in France are 20% compared to Luxembourg where it’s only 7%. But watch out, the E.U. is wising up and service providers may end up paying tax based on consumption rather than distribution. The Washington Post said “If American tech companies want to play in France, they have to play by French rules.”
I keep wondering when French politicians are going to wise up to the fact that all their ‘rules’ are their demise, not their protection! Meanwhile, I’ve got Netflix…and now Amazon Prime, too. In the interest of getting my money’s worth, I’ve been tuning in nightly, getting hooked on American programming, discovering a world I haven’t seen in 20 years and getting a lot less sleep.
Is it good? Yes, it’s great and I’m learning a lot about my own culture I’ve missed all these years.
Was it worth it? Ask me in a year’s time.
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
(with Martine di Mattéo)
P.S. Yesterday’s Parler Paris Après Midi was a packed house to hear from Interior Architect Martine di Mattéo talk about renovation and decoration in the City of Light — how she has transformed ‘boxes’ into ‘Disneylands’ along with before and after photos on two computers (we sure wished we had been able to project the images!). Read all about it, see some of the photos and here’s your opportunity to really see Martine’s PowerPoint Presentation by visiting Parler Paris Après Midi.
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