Posted March 14, 2024 • Last updated April 10, 2024

Where can I watch "Mr Bates vs The Post Office" in Canada?

Here's where the acclaimed British miniseries starring Toby Jones will be available in Canada.

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Mr Bates vs The Post Office, a four-part British drama miniseries dramatizing a significant scandal involving the UK's Post Office, a faulty IT system known as Horizon, and hundreds of individual local operators (known as subpostmasters), originally aired on ITV1 and STV in the United Kingdom from January 1 to 4, 2024.

The series, starring Toby Jones as the titular subpostmaster Alan Bates and produced and distributed by ITV Studios, has been credited with raising the profile of the scandal and spurring government action to overturn the wrongful convictions of those involved.

In spring 2024, Canadians will be able to watch the miniseries in two different ways. PBS, which is included in most Canadian cable and satellite TV packages, has acquired the U.S. broadcast rights to the series, and is airing it starting Sunday April 7, 2024, as part of its Masterpiece anthology series. PBS is recommending its stations air the series Sundays from April 7 to 28 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern/Pacific times, though individual PBS stations may (and often do) opt for different schedules. The series may also re-air in the future at times set by individual stations.

The series also appears to be available in Canada on at least some of PBS' digital platforms, at least as of this writing in early April 2024. While the PBS website doesn't appear to stream the series in Canada, in our testing it appeared to be available on the PBS apps as part of the Passport offering for Canadian members of PBS stations, which generally requires a minimum donation of $5 per month or $60 per year (the exact amount may vary based on the PBS station). It also appears to be available on the PBS Masterpiece add-on channel on Prime Video, which costs $6.99 per month (which is on top of a subscription to Amazon Prime itself, generally $9.99 per month) with a 30-day free preview available for first-time subscribers.

Canadian broadcast and streaming rights have also been separately acquired by Hollywood Suite, which has scheduled the series to air over two nights: Tuesday, May 28 and Wednesday, May 29, starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time both nights, presumably on its 2000s Movies channel, though this hasn't yet been confirmed. The full series will also be available on-demand as of May 29.

Hollywood Suite is available through most Canadian cable, satellite, and similar TV providers, generally as a standalone package costing about $5 to $7 per month on top of your regular TV service. Alternatively, it's available through Amazon Prime Video Channels, for $4.99 per month. Again, this is on top of a subscription to Amazon Prime itself, and a 30-day free preview is available for first-time subscribers.

As Hollywood Suite has claimed to be the "exclusive Canadian home" to the series, it is possible that the program's current availability on PBS digital platforms in Canada was a mistake on the part of PBS and may be curtailed. We are continuing to investigate the circumstances will try to keep this page updated as warranted.

(All prices in this article are in Canadian dollars before applicable sales taxes, and were last verified on April 9, 2024, but may change after publication. Please verify the current pricing before subscribing.)

Will I be able to watch the series on PBS' streaming platforms in Canada?

Initially we didn't think so, based on Hollywood Suite's assertion that it will be the "exclusive Canadian home" of Mr Bates vs The Post Office. However, as noted above, it appears that PBS has some Canadian streaming rights to the series after all.

Many Canadian members of PBS stations – i.e., those that donate a specified annual amount to a nearby U.S. PBS station – can access much of the service's programming through the PBS mobile and streaming device apps as part of the so-called "Passport" benefit. Much of the same programming is also available through the PBS Masterpiece paid add-on channel on Prime Video.

As PBS has acknowledged, it is still required to adhere to the terms of its programming rights which in many cases do not include Canada, and therefore not all programs available on PBS Passport in the U.S. are available through PBS in this country. Even when programs are available in both locations, the windows of availability may be different. It's possible, for example, that Mr Bates vs The Post Office will only available via PBS for a shorter period of time in Canada. But we don't know for sure at this point.

Wait, if Hollywood Suite is calling itself the "exclusive Canadian home", why can Canadians still watch on PBS?

As with other American broadcast networks, Canadian TV service providers can redistribute the signals of over-the-air PBS stations as-is, regardless of any rights held by Canadian broadcasters. The only exception is for simultaneous substitution (simsub) if identical programming is airing at the same time on a Canadian broadcast station.

However, simsub rights do not allow a specialty channel like Hollywood Suite to block access to programming on an American broadcast station. Instead, Hollywood Suite can only assert its exclusive rights – if that is indeed what it has – with respect to non-broadcast platforms, such as streaming availability (as discussed above).

We've explored similar issues in greater depth in past articles such as this one explaining why NBC's Olympic Games coverage is available in Canada despite CBC technically having exclusive Canadian rights to that event.

If PBS does indeed have legitimate streaming rights to the series in Canada (outside of these over-the-air broadcast rights), it would then be up to Hollywood Suite to explain why it is calling itself the series' exclusive Canadian home – we would not be able to explain this ourselves with our knowledge.

Is this a BBC show?

No, it is not. Despite the seemingly common misconception in North America that most British TV comes from the BBC (which is part of why we’re mentioning it for SEO reasons), many (indeed most) British drama series are produced for commercially funded broadcasters like ITV, Channel 4, and Sky.

As noted above, Mr Bates vs The Post Office was produced and commissioned by divisions of ITV, the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster (and the Beeb’s main TV rival).

Significant revisions

  • April 9, 2024 – updated to reflect apparent availability on PBS' digital platforms in Canada
  • March 14, 2024 – original publication

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