News from early December 2022, including an update on "Pennyworth" on Showcase, and CBC's winter programming plans.
Billy the Kid, a Canadian-filmed dramatic series based on the life of the outlaw also known as William H. Bonney, starring Tom Blyth and created for television by Vikings creator Michael Hirst, debuted on the Epix premium cable channel in the United States on April 24, 2022.
In Canada, Billy the Kid will be available on Paramount+ starting on Friday, May 20, 2022, according to a press release we received from Paramount+'s Canadian representatives. The first four episodes will be available immediately, with the four remaining first-season episodes released weekly within a few days of their American broadcasts on Epix.
Paramount+, the subscription streaming service operated by Paramount Global (previously known as ViacomCBS), is available in Canada for $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year (plus applicable sales taxes) directly through the service's website. It's also available as an add-on channel to Apple TV or Amazon Prime Video for that same $5.99 monthly price (to subscribe through Prime Video, you also have to pay separately for Amazon Prime). In all cases, a seven-day free trial is available for first-time subscribers.
Why is Billy the Kid on Paramount+ in Canada?
As Epix is not available in Canada, rights to its original programs are instead sold separately to other TV channels and streaming services that are available in this country.
However, unlike other U.S. premium services like Showtime and Starz, Epix does not have an overall programming output deal with a single Canadian channel. Instead, the producers or distributors of these programs sell the international broadcast or streaming rights, in some cases individually. For example, the Canadian rights to the series Pennyworth, which was commissioned by Epix for its first two seasons, were sold by its producer Warner Bros. to Corus-owned cable channel Showcase.
In the case of Billy the Kid, which is co-produced by Epix Studios, MGM International Television, and Nordic streaming service Viaplay, MGM (which also owns Epix) is handling the international distribution. The reason why MGM sold the Canadian rights to Paramount+ is not entirely clear, especially considering that MGM (and, in turn, Epix) was itself recently acquired by Amazon, which meant that Prime Video itself would have been an obvious international home for the series.
But MGM / Epix and Paramount have had some recent dealings in relation to the expansion of Paramount+ programming, mostly in relation to Paramount+ and Epix sharing the first pay window rights to recent Paramount (and MGM) films in the United States. So, while we're not entirely sure, it's possible this particular rights sale was a sidebar to that bigger deal.