News about Discovery+ launching in Canada, "What Happened, Brittany Murphy", "Shetland", and more.
Welcome to the March 1, 2021 edition of This Week in WCIW, the weekly newsletter from Where Can I Watch – covering the latest news on where TV shows and movies will be available in Canada.
Scroll down for updates on Framing Britney Spears and Discovery+, plus information on new arrivals this month in Canada on Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ / Star, and CBC Gem. But first, some takeaways from last week's Paramount+ event.
The tea leaves on the mountain
Let's be frank: a lot of what we do here is the metaphorical reading of tea leaves, trying to understand what's likely to happen with content in Canada, sometimes before the parties involved choose to (or can) say so directly (e.g., the fact that almost any given wide-release movie in theatres right now will arrive on a streaming service eventually).
Sometimes, however, the statements are explicit – and still end up being not quite precisely correct. This past week's ViacomCBS investor event was a prime example of this.
Viacom had previously said that the existing CBS All Access service in Canada would be rebranded as Paramount+ on March 4 – the same date as the U.S. rebranding – with "an expanded offering" being made available later in 2021.
We tuned in on Wednesday hoping that there might be clarification on what that expanded Canadian offering might be. But ultimately there was nothing specific about content in Canada, and a lot of what was discussed re international content was hedged with phrasing like "select markets". The only specific mentions of Canada in the main presentation were the re-announcement of the partially northern-set Yellowjackets, a reaffirmation of the Canadian launch being the same date as the U.S., and a slide (video @ 2:08:42) indicating the price in Canada will be $5.99 per month – the same as CBSAA is in Canada now.
Then, in the investor Q&A, things got slightly more interesting. ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish said (video @ 2:36:18) that outside the U.S., "including in the launch countries... the Showtime product will be part of Paramount+".
That piqued our interest. Was this including Canada? Or was Bakish oversimplifying?
Within the hour, Viacom released its overall press release about the event, which clarified that the situation was not quite as clear cut as Bakish's comments suggested. "For most international subscribers, Paramount+ will also be the home to Showtime," the press release said. We think it's fair to assume "most" means "not Canada, yet". And perhaps to help drive the point home, the next day Bell Media reposted several Showtime announcements from earlier in the week, explicitly indicating those shows – both new and returning – would still be on Crave.
At the end of the day, we get it – company executives have bigger things to worry about than memorize which programming deals apply in what countries, and that's what those safe harbour notices attached to announcements like this are meant for. But it does make it harder for those of us covering these services to know exactly what is going on in situations like these.
As for all of the other programming coming to Paramount+ in the U.S. – it's hard to know yet how that will work out in Canada. Viacom is still selling first-run Canadian rights to shows like The Stand to other providers (see below) despite producing the show and operating CBSAA / P+ here, so it's not yet clear if (or why) Viacom would just now start moving away from that. The press release announcing Halo's move to Paramount+, for example, explicitly says "[t]he series will be distributed globally by CBS Studios International", suggesting Viacom may still be open to resale deals if the price is right.
It seems logical that shows like the Rugrats and iCarly reboots would land on Corus' new Nick+ streaming package, if not the YTV or Nick Canada linear channels, and the new Daily Show brand extension The Weekly Show with Trevor Noah could end up on CTV Comedy or Crave. But as we've seen already this year with extensions like Discovery+, sometimes those situations end up being a bit more complicated than we think.
There were a bunch of announcements of new content for the coming month on various services this past week. As always, our main focus is on licensed content that may have different broadcast or streaming homes depending on the country. While there are some notable new originals coming in March like Netflix's The Irregulars and Prime Video's Coming 2 America, the services have worldwide rights and will be releasing them in all countries simultaneously, so we don't feel the need to list all of those here. (You can see the full lists linked below where possible.)
- First of all, following up from our discussion of Framing Britney Spears a couple of weeks ago, both Crave and the documentary's distributor Red Arrow have confirmed that the Bell Media streaming service has picked up Canadian rights to not only the much-discussed Spears documentary – released on Crave over the weekend – but the full series it's part of, The New York Times Presents, which will debut officially at some point in March.
- Netflix Canada posted a Twitter thread with its March new arrivals which starts here. Notable licensed pay-1 arrivals (precise dates were sent to other media outlets like MobileSyrup) include Bill & Ted Face the Music (March 28) and Yes, God, Yes (March 5 – a few months after its posting on Netflix U.S.). Films arriving on Netflix after spending time on other services include Shazam! (March 1), Welcome to Marwen (March 1), Vice (the 2018 Adam McKay film – March 5), and Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (March 23).
- Prime Video Canada's new licensed programming for March (emailed to us directly) includes The Stand (March 19 – Amazon bought the Canadian rights to from ViacomCBS despite it being a CBS All Access / Paramount+ original), Dispatches from Elsewhere (season 1 of the AMC series – March 2), The Painter and the Thief (2020 documentary – March 11), The Secrets We Keep (2020 thriller – March 11), Hard Kill (2020 action film with Bruce Willis – March 18), Blumhouse's The Craft: Legacy (2020 horror film – March 19), Ammonite (2020 TIFF selection – March 25), and She Dies Tomorrow (2020 horror film – March 25). A number of classic Paramount films will also show up in March, including The Godfather trilogy on March 15.
There is also a film titled American Renegades leaving the service on March 23... but also a film titled Renegades debuting on March 23. We find this curious mostly because it's possible it may be referring to the same film which was given the former title for U.S. release, and the latter elsewhere.
- Disney+ / Star's March arrivals in Canada (sent to other media outlets like Now Magazine) include the Canadian premiere (we think) of Hulu's Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi (March 26). Other notables include Freeform / ABC Spark's Love in the Time of Corona (March 5), and all seasons of the past ABC Studios / CBS co-productions Ghost Whisperer and Code Black (both on March 26).
- March arrivals on CBC Gem include For Heaven's Sake (a co-production between CBC and Paramount+ debuting alongside the latter on March 4), the BBC's Ladhood and Happy Valley (season 1), ITV's 2016 series Victoria and the 2020 British series Miss Scarlet and the Duke (both previously seen here on PBS via Masterpiece), European series Bad Banks (available on Hulu in the U.S.), and a number of other Canadian and international programs, including short-form series, films, and documentaries (a few of which have been available on other services in Canada previously).
CBC has also announced that in April, it will be offering the Canadian broadcast premieres of 2020 BBC miniseries Us, and Australian series The Secrets She Keeps.
- On the "where's that Peacock show" front: We forgot to mention last week that The Amber Ruffin Show, a kind-of spinoff of Late Night with Seth Meyers, is getting a trial run on the NBC broadcast network for two weeks – this past Friday night / Saturday morning (February 26/27), and this coming Friday (March 5/6) at 1:37 a.m. ET, marking the first time the show's been (permissibly) available in Canada.
(As we discovered a few years ago, the Friday night 1:37 slot has occasionally been used by NBC for experimental purposes like this, with the half-hour sometimes being filled with four seven-minute promotional "episodes" of existing series coded in a way to be recorded by PVRs.)
- We received the March issue of Movie Entertainment this past week, which indicates that Zack Snyder's Justice League will not be a streaming-only release in Canada: it will also air on the Crave linear channels, debuting on Crave 1 on Saturday, March 20 from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. (ish) Eastern time. The "Coming Up" page suggests that 2020 British film Misbehaviour (released in North America by Shout Studios), as well as Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (a Lionsgate release which was only released on PVOD on February 12), may be landing on Crave and/or Starz in April.
On the Discovery+ front: Discovery Inc.'s quarterly earnings call this past week suggested that there is a wider rollout of their streaming service planned for the second half of this year. However, there was no indication whether Canada might be one of these countries. At the moment, Discovery seems to be mostly focused on Europe, where it plans to use Discovery+ for its new continent-wide Olympic Games streaming rights. (Of course, it does not have any such rights in North America.)
The March issue of Movie Entertainment mentioned above also indicated that the next issue of the Crave listings magazine, dated April 2021, would be its last. The issue's letter from the editor noted changes in the media landscape that meant the magazine was no longer necessary. However, Crave's Twitter account was promoting new subscriptions to the magazine up to late January, suggesting the closure was not made final until the cuts at parent company Bell Media announced at the beginning of February. (The fact the March and April issues were allowed to proceed might be tied to 2020-21 funding from the Canada Periodical Fund – the magazine has a "Funded by the Government of Canada" notice in its masthead – which would have required publication through March 31 anyways.)
ME launched as Feature in June 1990, replacing the Allarcom-published Primetime in eastern Canada shortly after First Choice and the original Superchannel unwound the combined operation that was in effect from 1984-89, and adopted its current name in the mid-2000s.
We can't claim to be shocked that the magazine – which for the past number of years was an optional $2/month add-on marketed mainly to Crave's legacy cable customers – is finally seeing its end, in an era where more and more customers were accessing programming on-demand, and when its linear listings were frequently becoming outdated before reaching subscribers' mailboxes (and sometimes, given the high mail volumes of this past year, just plain arriving late).
But it had a good run, outlasting many similar efforts, and may well have been one of the last of its kind. The aforementioned Primetime appears to have ended publication in western Canada in the early 2000s under Corus (Movie Central) ownership. HBO U.S. had long ago ended the glossy magazines, but maintained monthly flyers to at least some linear subscribers until early 2020; you can still download the last two editions under "Schedule PDF" on this page. Sky New Zealand also ended its monthly guide this past August. There are still TV listings magazines on newsstands in some places, some of those even owned by broadcasters (like in Quebec and Newfoundland), but the in-house pay TV magazine seems to now be a thing of the past.
Of course, there are always humans affected by these kinds of changes. Movie Entertainment had a significant number of staff and freelance contributors, and we certainly wish them all well on their next endeavours.
Recent updates on WCIW
- There's a new post explaining where you can find the new Tom & Jerry movie in Canada, though it's the same basic deal as other Warner Bros. releases from the past few months (premium VOD in Canada for now.
- Our post about Gangs of London has been updated to reflect AMC's linear schedule for the series which is slated to start on April 4 – at least in the U.S. It's still not yet clear if AMC will also carry the show in Canada.
- We've finally gotten around to updating our catch-all post about Hulu to reflect a few more series that have appeared in Canada on Disney+ / Star or elsewhere.
- We still don't know when Sound of Metal will show up on streaming in Canada, but it is currently (through March 3) available for 99¢ rentals on the Apple TV / iTunes Store. That is a great price if you've been waiting to see it. But a sale like that is often a sign that the film is will move to streaming availability in the near future.
- Finally, our post about Land (the Robin Wright film, not to be confused with Nomadland) has been updated to reflect Universal's confirmation that it will be available on PVOD this coming Friday, March 5.
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