What's new in April on Prime Video, CTV Comedy, and more.
Comcast / NBCUniversal's new streaming service, Peacock, officially launched in the United States on July 15, 2020. However, all indications are that it will not be available as a standalone service in Canada for the foreseeable future. Canadians will instead have to access Peacock's programming through other outlets, to the extent that Comcast and/or other TV and streaming outlets decide to make these shows available.
- Corus, owner of channels like Global, Showcase, and W, has deals with Comcast covering "marquee" Peacock original series like Brave New World, Saved by the Bell, and Rutherford Falls, as well as many of its imported series like the British comedy Intelligence.
- If you're a cord-cutter without access to Corus' channels through a cable (or similar) package, you'll need to subscribe to Corus' StackTV package for Prime Video, or VMedia's RiverTV, to access this programming.
- Canadian rights to sports (and sports entertainment) programs carried by Peacock continue with their existing rightsholders. In Canada, rights to WWE Network programming is controlled by Rogers through 2024, and are not affected by WWE's U.S. deal with Peacock. As far as we know, the current setup where Canadians have to subscribe to WWE Network through a TV provider will remain as-is for now.
- Some Peacock originals, and many of the service's library series, are not covered by these deals, but may be available on other channels or streaming services. Many pre-existing streaming deals should continue for now; in particular, it appears that The Office (U.S.) will continue to be available on Netflix in Canada for the foreseeable future. Read below for more details.
Where can I watch Peacock original programs?
Corus Entertainment, owner of channels like Global, Showcase, Slice, and W Network, announced on June 23, 2020 that it has acquired Canadian broadcast and streaming rights to "marquee" original programming from Peacock.
To date, the only Peacock Originals programs specifically confirmed to be coming to Corus channels are the following:
- A.P. Bio (season 3 onwards – seasons 1 and 2 originally aired in Canada on Global)
- Brave New World
- Dr. Death
- Punky Brewster (2021 reboot of the 1980s series)
- Rutherford Falls
- Saved by the Bell (2020 reboot of the 1990s series)
As of this update in mid-April 2021, only four of these programs have actually been released on Peacock, with all having aired, at least in part, on Corus' specialty cable channels in Canada – and one more coming in late April.
- Brave New World began airing Sunday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET on Showcase starting September 13, only for it to be cancelled by Peacock later that fall. (As of December, the full season has aired but remains available on demand for Showcase subscribers, including on the Global TV website / app, and on StackTV.)
- As subsequently announced, the Saved by the Bell reboot debuted on W Network on Thursday, November 26, day-and-date with its release on Peacock. All ten first-season episodes were made available for on-demand streaming on StackTV that night, with back-to-back episodes also airing on W's linear channel Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. Episodes have also been made available to stream after broadcast to W Network cable subscribers via the Global TV website.
- The third season of the comedy series A.P. Bio, which was released on Peacock in September 2020, aired Sunday nights on Showcase beginning January 17, 2021. Previous seasons aired on NBC, and Global in Canada. (This scheduling was first brought to our attention from a forum post by "Dr. Dave" on DigitalHome.ca.) Episodes – from the third season only – are available to stream on the Global TV app and on StackTV; we can't find previous seasons available to stream anywhere but they are available for digital purchase, including through the Apple TV Store.
- The reboot of Punky Brewster premiered on Thursday, March 4 on W Network, with back-to-back new episodes airing weekly on both W (on Thursdays) and YTV (on Fridays) through April 1. All episodes aired to date by W are available to stream on the Global TV app, and all 10 episodes were immediately made available on StackTV.
- Rutherford Falls, a sitcom starring Ed Helms and co-created by Helms, Sierra Teller Orenelas, and Michael Schur, will debut in Canada on Showcase on Thursday, April 29, one week after its U.S. release. The series will debut with back-to-back episodes starting at 8:00 p.m. ET, with the first episode simulcast on Global at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT, and continue weekly. Episodes should also be available to stream on the Global TV app and on StackTV.
To be able to watch Peacock Originals, Canadian viewers need to subscribe to Corus channels like Showcase and W, either through a TV provider (like Rogers, Bell or Shaw), through Corus' StackTV package on Amazon Prime Video, or through VMedia's over-the-top multichannel service RiverTV. It's possible that certain shows could air (or re-air at a later date) on Corus' broadcast network, Global, which is available over the air in most major Canadian cities, but you shouldn't count on it.
Corus' announcement did not mention a few other original series that Peacock has ordered, like a second reboot of Battlestar Galactica, unscripted shows like the limited-run talk show Wilmore, or spin-offs of NBC's late night shows like The Kids Tonight Show. That could mean a number of things – perhaps Corus has these rights too but chose just to focus on a few of the offerings for now; perhaps they don't fall under the grouping of "marquee" programming that was offered to Corus at this point; or perhaps they are not available to Corus because of rights held by broadcasters for their parent programs (for example, the regular Tonight Show currently airs in Canada on Bell Media's CTV2).
The Amber Ruffin Show, a weekly spinoff of Late Night with Seth Meyers which is not otherwise available in Canada, has aired on NBC late Friday nights (early Saturday mornings) on two occasions – February 26 and March 5 – as a promotional test for the program. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that this will occur again in the future.
I heard that Peacock will be airing some international series too. What about those?
In addition to the original series noted above, Peacock has purchased American first-run streaming rights to a number of other international series.
Many of these originate from Sky Studios, the production division of the European satellite broadcaster Sky, which has been a sister company to NBCU under Comcast since late 2018.
So on top of its deal for Peacock originals, Corus struck a separate multi-year deal with Sky which will cover much of that company's production output, including the following series which premiered in fall 2020:
- Intelligence (British comedy starring Nick Mohammed and David Schwimmer) – Sundays at 10:00 p.m. ET on Showcase starting September 13
- Hitmen (British comedy starring Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, arguably best known to Canadians as the BBC-era hosts of The Great British
Bake OffBaking Show) – Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on Showcase starting September 13
One other Peacock acquisition, the limited drama series Departure starring Archie Panjabi and Christopher Plummer, was in fact a Canadian co-production involving Corus, and it began airing in Canada on Global this fall, though a few weeks after it debuted in America on Peacock.
Several other series, however, do not fall under Corus' deals. Instead, the producers (and their distributors) have the ability to sell Canadian rights separately. Amazon, not Corus, acquired the Canadian rights to the well-reviewed British crime drama The Capture, which was originally broadcast in the U.K. on BBC One. That series is already available in Canada on Prime Video.
Does Peacock's deal with WWE affect Canada?
No. The multi-year agreement whereby Peacock will hold exclusive U.S. rights to WWE Network programming is explicitly stated as applying "in the U.S." – and nowhere else. Reporting by other outlets has made clear that the international versions of the WWE Network will maintain the status quo.
In Canada, Rogers Communications holds exclusive rights to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) programming, including distribution rights to WWE Network, until 2024. Under Rogers' current model, Canadians can only subscribe to WWE Network through a TV service provider, for $12.99 per month (at minimum; the price varies by provider). The provider does not necessarily have to be Rogers – WWE Network is also offered on competitors like Bell and VMedia – but it is still not available on a pure over-the-top basis.
Despite the launch of an over-the-top version of Sportsnet Now that includes WWE's weekly programs Raw and SmackDown, there has been no indcation that Rogers plans to extend this model to WWE Network in Canada any time soon.
What about everything else? "The Office"? The Kardashians?
Many of the other films and TV series in the NBCUniversal library remain available on other streaming services in Canada, including Netflix (which appears to be keeping Canadian streaming rights to The Office for the foreseeable future despite losing U.S. rights at the end of 2020), Crave (which streams 30 Rock), and Prime Video (Parks & Recreation, and more recently certain seasons of Law & Order and most of its spinoffs). These may change from time to time, but we have seen no indication that any of them would be specifically affected by Corus' deal for Peacock's original programming.
NBCUniversal already operates the Hayu streaming service in Canada, which carries much of the catalogue of reality series from NBCU's U.S. networks like E! (e.g. Keeping Up with the Kardashians), Bravo, and Oxygen, and which from all indications will continue to operate as-is.
Finally, the vast majority of Peacock's sports events are covered by separate rights contracts in Canada. For example, several Premier League soccer games will be exclusive to Peacock in America, but the Canadian rights to all games are currently held by DAZN.
To be clear, despite all of this, there are a number of other programs from the NBCUniversal library which are being made available on Peacock but are not currently available on streaming in Canada. If there's a particular program you're looking for, the best we can suggest for now is to contact NBCUniversal and/or one of the streaming services you subscribe to (or would be willing to subscribe to) and let them know you're interested in that program.
We will endeavour to update this article as warranted.
It's free though, right? Couldn't I use an American VPN to access these shows?
Only the Peacock Free tier is free to everyone (in the U.S.), and that tier will not include most of the original or U.S.-exclusive series noted above. The Peacock Premium tiers will require a paid subscription and we expect that, consistent with other American-only services, it will require a U.S.-based payment method and billing address, and it may be subject to cancellation without notice or refund if unauthorized use is detected (and already we've seen a number of reports of Peacock denying access to known proxies).
Should you wish to attempt to use a virtual private network (VPN) or another sort of anonymous proxy to attempt to access Peacock (whether free or paid tiers), such use is "at your own risk". While there are many valid uses for VPNs for privacy protection and the like, we would not encourage you to subscribe to a proxy service solely to access streaming services like Peacock as there is no way to guarantee it will work consistently.
- April 11, 2021 – added Rutherford Falls
- March 28, 2021 – a few belated updates, including Punky Brewster
- January 26, 2021 – updates related to Peacock's new agreement with WWE
- December 31, 2020 – various updates
- November 9, 2020 – Saved by the Bell announcement
- November 5, 2020 – A few more minor updates.
- September 24, 2020 – Minor updates including on-demand links.
- August 3, 2020 – Added details on Corus' plans for Brave New World and certain Sky series.