Watching This Week #112
Listings for May 29 to June 4, 2023; Corus channels appear set to leave Eastlink.
Looking for Starz series like Outlander, Power, or American Gods in Canada? Some are easier to find than others.
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Though not as renowned as competitors HBO and Showtime, Starz has slowly built up a following as one of the leading premium TV services in the United States, with original series including Outlander, Power, Party Down, and American Gods.
A Canadian version of Starz launched in 2019, and is available through most TV providers, while cordcutters can subscribe to Starz through Crave, Prime Video Channels, and Apple TV Channels. However, there are several programming differences between Starz Canada and its American and international counterparts. Several programs that debuted before 2019 are not available through Starz Canada, but are available on other Canadian channels.
As with most other American pay channels like HBO, the U.S. version of the Starz pay TV service is not available in Canada due to a variety of laws and regulations that prioritize Canadian-owned TV channels here.
However, mid-major film studio Lionsgate, which acquired Starz in 2016, has been working to grow the Starz brand internationally, including over-the-top streaming services under the "StarzPlay" brand in Europe and the Middle East.
In theory, Lionsgate could have taken a similar approach in Canada, but unlike some of those other regions, Starz programming already has a track record of being available on Canadian TV screens, due to past deals with TMN in the 2000s, and more recently with Super Channel, which had an output deal for Starz programming beginning in 2013.
Ultimately, Lionsgate formed a partnership with Bell Media to relaunch the latter's TMN Encore service as a Canadian version of Starz. This partnership was announced in 2018 and went into effect in 2019, superseding the agreement with Super Channel.
Many original series are (now) the same, but not all programming is. Most ongoing Starz original series that premiered in 2018 or later – including Vida, Dublin Murders, and the current and future Power spin-off series like Ghost – are or will be available on Starz Canada. Many past Starz original series including Boss, Party Down, and the recently-concluded Power main series, are available on-demand to subscribers.
However, some Starz series that debuted in 2018 or earlier are not currently available, in whole or in part, on Starz Canada, either because they were part of the previous arrangement with Super Channel, or because Starz holds American broadcast rights only, and international broadcast rights were sold to others. Details on these are in the next section.
Conversely, Starz has acquired Canadian rights to a couple of additional series not carried on Starz in the U.S. – specifically the series Ramy and The Act, both of which were commissioned by Hulu. It also has, through Starz's relationship to Lionsgate, repeat rights to selected other series like Nurse Jackie, which was originally produced by Lionsgate for Showtime.
The full list of series currently available on Starz Canada is shown on this page on the Crave website.
Finally, the movies aired on Starz U.S. and Starz Canada differ significantly. For most of its history, Starz in America has held U.S. first-window pay-TV rights (sometimes called "pay-1") to at least one of the major movie studios, currently Sony Pictures, with older films from various studios rounding out its schedule.
Starz Canada (and its previous incarnations under names including Moviepix and TMN Encore) has historically been focused solely on movies that have previously aired elsewhere, but in 2020 began to air newer movies from Lionsgate, such as Bombshell, even though Starz U.S. does not yet have equivalent American rights. The Canadian first-run rights to Sony movies are currently transitioning from Starz Canada's sister network Crave (which has pay-1 rights to Sony releases up to and including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) to Prime Video (Zombieland: Double Tap and later).
|Series / program||Where you can watch in Canada (and why)|
|Outlander||W Network (new episodes); Netflix (previous seasons)
Starz commissioned Outlander from Sony Pictures Television, which retained international distribution rights. Canadian broadcast rights were originally picked up by basic cable channel Showcase, later transferring to sister channel W Network once both channels were under the Corus Entertainment umbrella.
W Network aired season 5 of Outlander day-and-date with Starz U.S. on Sunday nights starting February 16, 2020.
It is important to note that W Network (including StackTV) only has limited-time on-demand rights to each episode; as a result, as of July 2021, no episodes of Outlander are currently available through W.
However, W Network also picked up streaming rights to the 2021 companion docuseries Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham (as in Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish), which as of July 2021 remains available on the Global TV app and StackTV.
Past seasons of the series are available in Canada on Netflix; the first five seasons are now available, with seasons typically being added about eight months after they finish airing on W.
The series is also available on DVD and Blu-ray, up to and including Season 5 as of September 15, 2020.
|American Gods||Prime Video; Super Channel (linear repeat rights)
Amazon purchased global streaming rights to the Neil Gaiman adaptation outside the U.S.; this deal was sealed before some of Starz' more recent international efforts. Rival Canadian pay TV service Super Channel later bought the right to repeat the series on its linear channels.
|The Spanish Princess||Both seasons now available on Starz Canada
Season 1 initially aired on Super Channel, but, since February 16, 2020, that season had also been available on Starz Canada, about seven months after the season finale first aired. The second season eventually debuted exclusively on Starz Canada on October 11, 2020, and the first season has since left Super Channel.
The Spanish Princess is a successor to The White Queen and The White Princess, all based on Philippa Gregory's novel series The Cousins' War. The first two series debuted on Super Channel under its previous arrangement with Starz, before repeating on Starz Canada.
|Counterpart||Season 1 may still be available through Starz on Prime Video; full series available for digital purchase from the Apple TV / iTunes Store and possibly elsewhere
Starz U.S. dropped the series from its streaming platforms, shortly after cancelling the series after two seasons in February 2019 (and it's since resurfaced on Prime Video in America). It remained on Starz Canada for a time for a bit longer, but was no longer streamable Crave through by late 2021. For some reason, season 1 remains available through the version of Starz Canada available on Prime Video as of late February 2022, but it's not clear how long that will last (if it's not just an error).
The production company behind the show, MRC, continues to offer the full series for digital purchase.
(This list is not necessarily exhaustive.)
|Series / program||Where you can watch in Canada (and why)|
|The Pillars of the Earth||Now available on both Starz Canada and Prime Video
This miniseries based on the Ken Follett novel was in fact co-commissioned by Crave's predecessors The Movie Network and Movie Central, alongside Starz U.S. However, distribution rights eventually reverted to the series' third-party production companies. For a time, Amazon was the only streaming service to offer this series in English in Canada, but it arrived on Starz Canada as well in July 2021.
If you have any further questions about the Canadian availability of these series or any other Starz program you can't find listed above, you may wish to consider contacting Starz Canada (via Crave) and/or Starz U.S. directly.
If you want to watch just the first season of Starz series like Power, Boss, or Party Down, you can also access these as part of the base package of the Crave streaming service, also owned by Bell Media. This service generally costs $9.99 per month (plus tax) when purchased directly through Crave.ca, and sometimes slightly less when purchased through a TV service provider.
There are several ways to subscribe to the Starz pay TV service in Canada. The best option may depend on the devices and other services you have (and any current special cases for programming noted above). All prices are before applicable sales taxes, which vary by province.
If you use a cable, satellite, or fibre TV service (through a provider such as Rogers, Shaw, Bell, Telus or Cogeco), you may want to check with them first, particularly if you'd appreciate the ability to tune into Starz on your set-top box. (You can also sign in with your TV provider credentials to Crave's mobile and streaming device apps to access Starz programming online.)
Most Canadian TV service providers offer Starz on a standalone basis for around $6-10 depending on the provider. Many will offer a discounted packaged price if you get both Starz and sister service Crave (+ Movies + HBO) through the same provider – for example, with Rogers, it's currently $23.95, cheaper than the combined direct-to-consumer price for those services ($25.97).
However, as with most other TV service provider offerings, once subscribed, it's typically harder to unsubscribe compared to most Internet-based offerings.
If you prefer the online approach, you currently have three options (all of which offer at least a seven-day free trial):
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