News about Discovery+ launching in Canada, "What Happened, Brittany Murphy", "Shetland", and more.
Welcome to the March 29, 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.
This week, we have a roundup of notable new arrivals on several of the major streaming services for April, plus Canadian pickups of Staged and Survivalists, and more. Let's get into it.
There are a bunch of programming announcements for the coming month we'll be going over in this section. As a reminder, our main focus is on licensed content that may have different broadcast or streaming homes depending on the country, and not the services' worldwide originals that are (or will be) marketed everywhere. Also, Disney+'s April arrivals were discussed in last week's newsletter.
- Notable arrivals in April on CBC Gem include Australian series First Day (technically a late addition to the March releases, arriving this Wednesday) and The Secrets She Keeps (April 14); British series Us (April 4) and Ghosts (season 1, April 9); and additional seasons of shows like Happy Valley, The Dog House, and Call the Midwife.
- Netflix Canada's licensed April additions include a bunch of movies moving over after windows on other services including Glass, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and Fighting with My Family (all currently on Crave), and Cold Pursuit (currently on Prime Video). Among the "originals" are a few foreign acquisitions, like the South Korean series Law School. The list also shows Watchmen among the library arrivals, which we are 99% sure is the 2009 film, not the 2019 HBO series.
- We covered a few of Crave's April arrivals last week, but a fuller list was released this past week which also includes the Duplass brothers docuseries Sasquatch (dropping alongside its U.S. release on Hulu on April 20), and the 2020 documentary Assassins (April 19). Season 4 of The Handmaid's Tale will also be streaming weekly alongside the linear airings on CTV Drama, starting April 28. Crave also subsequently confirmed it would also carry the Raoul Peck / HBO docuseries Exterminate All the Brutes (starts April 7) which absent from the original list.
- We recently noticed a pattern of a few relatively recent 20th Century or Searchlight releases landing on both Starz Canada and Disney+ / Star – like The Hate U Give and Can You Ever Forgive Me?. Movies being on multiple streaming services at once is not uncommon once a film is several years old, but these are fairly recent releases, not to mention newer than what usually runs on Starz. In fact, the 2019 Searchlight release Tolkien seems to be moving from the main Crave service (departing March 31) to a joint pay window on both Disney+ / Star (April 2) and Starz (April 9).
- Hollywood Suite has picked up season 1 of the Michael Sheen / David Tennant series Staged, produced for BBC One (and streaming in the U.S. on Hulu), which will be available starting April 1. (It's technically already available for digital purchase on the Apple TV Store and possibly elsewhere.) A second season has already aired in both the UK and the U.S.; it's not yet clear if Hollywood Suite has those rights as well.
The same Hollywood Suite press release also mentions they'll be airing a newly-remastered version of the 1977 British-Italian limited series Jesus of Nazareth, which the channel says has "not been seen on Canadian TV since the 1990s". The series will be available on-demand on April 1, with the four episodes airing on linear April 2-5.
- Family Channel has acquired Canadian rights to the BYU TV reality competition series Survivalists, which will air on Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT starting tonight (March 29), right after fellow BYU TV pickup Dwight in Shining Armor.
- Super Channel will be airing the Lifetime-commissioned, Canadian-made documentary Catching a Serial Killer: Bruce McArthur on Friday, April 30.
- Crave announced on Friday that Zack Snyder's Justice League was its most streamed title ever (based on at least one minute watched within a week of release), beating out the previous record holder, the Game of Thrones final-season episode "The Long Night", in addition to reaching over a million viewers across all linear airings on Super Écran and the former TMN. It'll be interesting to see how that translates into Crave subscriber numbers; parent company BCE typically waits until its quarterly results announcements (the next one being on April 29) to provide those kinds of updates.
- In light of HBO Max recently rolling out described video (a.k.a. audio description or AD) for the visually impaired, we double-checked Crave's site and apps and saw that there's been no change to the situation there: "Descriptive Video (DV) is currently only available on set top boxes."
Up to this point, Crave has actually been slightly ahead of HBO, which had virtually never aired AD on its U.S. linear channels. As mandated by the CRTC, since September 2019, Crave has aired AD / DV tracks for the vast majority of its English-language primetime programming, including HBO and Showtime programs. In recent months, a few HBO Max shows have started to come with DV apparently provided from the source, but most descriptions have been done in-house (apparently produced with a text-to-speech generator, and tagged at the end as "described video provided by BMI", i.e. Bell Media Inc.), with tracks for a few older shows commissioned from Toronto-based John Hauber Productions.
However, these have been, and so far remain, available only when those programs air on the linear channels on a set-top box. (At least in Canada. It's not yet clear whether HBO Max is reusing any of Bell's tracks for its own AD offerings.)
As someone whose day job is in software, I get that new features often get delayed or postponed for a variety of reasons. But that "currently only available on set top boxes" message has been on the Crave website for a few years now. And as AD / DV has been getting increased recognition as a must-have offering to help serve those with visual impairments, other apps – including domestic services like CBC Gem and Global TV – figured this out on at least some of their website/app platforms a while ago (Global's described video tracks show up as "Dhivehi" on Apple TV, but that's an issue for another day).
We tried reaching out to Crave shortly after HBO Max's announcement on Friday afternoon to see if there was an update on DV support in the apps, but (perhaps understandably given the timing) we hadn't heard back by publication time. We'll update the web version of this newsletter if we hear back from them.
Recent updates on WCIW
- Our Godzilla vs. Kong post now reflects Warner Bros.' updated Canadian release plan – it will now be available for PVOD digital rental in Canada after all, starting this coming Wednesday (March 31)
- We've also updated our post about Gangs of London to reflect the fact that the schedule for AMC's Canadian feed currently shows the series premiering this coming Sunday night (April 4). It's not an ironclad guarantee, but given that AMC does send out a separate schedule for its Canadian feed, it's very likely that it will indeed be airing Gangs of London despite the earlier confusion.
- Finally, we've made some (late) updates to our Peacock post, mostly to note the availability of Punky Brewster on W, YTV and StackTV.
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