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Netflix pairs with Rogers' City stations to produce new TV series 'Between'

TORONTO – Netflix is making an unusual pairing with a Canadian broadcaster, and its rival video-on-demand service, to deliver the original survivalist thriller series “Between.”

The U.S. streaming video provider says it will partner with City stations, owned by Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B), to produce six episodes of the show.

Under the agreement, City will air the series first in Canada and Rogers will make it available on its VOD service Shomi, which launches later this fall.

Netflix will have the streaming rights for “Between” outside of Canada, and after a year, the company will be able to stream the series on its Canadian service.

“Between” tells of a town that’s the centre of a mysterious disease that’s killing off everyone who’s over 21 years old.

It was created by Michael McGowan, director of homegrown films like “One Week” and “Saint Ralph,” and stars Jennette McCurdy from Nickelodeon TV series “iCarly” and “Sam & Cat.”

“Teaming up with Rogers on ‘Between’ is a tremendous opportunity to work with a creative partner in Canada to bring our global viewers top-notch content,” said Erik Barmack, Netflix’s vice-president of global content in a release.

On-demand service Shomi was created by Canadian broadcasters Rogers and Shaw Communications (TSX:SJR.B) as an answer to Netflix’s growing popularity within Canada. The streaming platform, which is slated to launch in November, will initially be available only to customers of the two cable companies.

While this marks Netflix’s first original Canadian production, the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company films the horror series “Hemlock Grove” in Ontario, and recently bought the exclusive rights for two new seasons of “Trailer Park Boys.”

Last month, Netflix sparred with the CRTC over whether it can be regulated like its TV competitors, suggesting its video streaming service did not fall under the Broadcasting Act since it is not a conventional broadcaster.

If Netflix was under the Broadcasting Act it would be required to make certain financial commitments to Canadian content.

The regulator ordered Netflix to provide information related to its business operations in Canada, including the number of Canadian subscribers and how much money it spent producing Canadian video content, however the company refused to supply the data, saying it was considered private corporate information.

The company has argued that regulating the Internet to boost Canadian content would only hurt consumers, and that the CRTC should let market forces decide what people can watch.

Two years ago, Netflix dove into TV series production with “House of Cards,” with Hollywood director David Fincher and actor Kevin Spacey.

Since then, the company scooped up the global rights to a number of new TV series like the BBC’s “Happy Valley” and “Short Poppies,” a New Zealand production that simultaneously debuted on a local TV network’s on-demand service.

Netflix has also announced plans for several of its own series filmed around the world.