Bell announced that their popular streaming video service CraveTV will be available to everybody in Canada with an internet connection come January 1, 2016. Mary Ann Turcke, President, Bell Media said, “As our business model has continued to evolve, the time is right to also offer CraveTV as a standalone product. We are pleased to provide TV lovers across Canada with full access to the thousands of hours of premium television programming available on CraveTV.”
This announcement makes it sound like it was all Bell’s idea, but the truth of the matter is that CRTC is making it mandatory that both Rogers’ and Shaw’s Shomi and Bell’s CraveTV be offered to all Canadians over the internet. After separate complaints and discussions between telecom providers, lobby groups, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC), a remodeling of the Digital Media Exemption Order was drafted in March.
Rogers and Shaw have already announced that Shomi would also be available to all Canadians – it is expected to leave beta before the end of summer. Only Rogers and Shaw subscribers can sign up for Shomi, whereas CraveTV is available to a few networks – Bell, TELUS and Eastlink. While Shomi and CraveTV are both streaming video services, they both offer very different content – some exclusive to their particular carrier. Shomi is more like Netflix that offers both popular TV shows, past TV favorites as well as movies. It has exclusive rights to titles such as Modern Family, Sleepy Hollow, Sons of Anarchy, 2 Broke Girls, 24: Live Another Day, and more. Shomi will have 14,000 episodes and titles – 11,000 hours of TV shows – 1,200 movies – 340 TV series – and 30-percent of the content is Canadian – TV shows and classic films. Shomi will cost you about $9 a month.
CraveTV focuses strictly on television programming and something that nobody else does – they offer up HBO’s back catalog of content, with shows like the Sopranos, Sex and the City – as well as some exclusive series, such as Manhattan and also all of the Seinfeld episodes. Shomi is currently available on Bell, Eastlink, and Telus, via set-top box, mobile apps, the web, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Microsoft Windows 8, and will soon be available via game consoles and Smart TVs as it expands it services. What is unclear is whether CraveTV will keep its $4 a month price.