Posted May 23, 2020 • Last updated May 25, 2020

This Week in WCIW #5: Let's Try This Again

News about HBO Max programming on Crave, and more.

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Developments in TV and streaming service programming are certainly not the most important thing right now, but there have been plenty of developments nonetheless. This seems like a good opportunity to recap some of them – including what's happening with HBO Max programming in Canada, Prime Video getting more first-run movies, and a few other pieces of news.

HBO (and Crave) go Max

Ahead of the launch of HBO Max on May 27, WarnerMedia made a slew of announcements for the new service – many around distribution (basically, most Americans who already subscribe to HBO will get HBO Max automatically), release dates for more programs, and something about a recut DC movie. There are plenty of good primers on WarnerMedia's (and parent company AT&T's) goals for the service like this WSJ one so we won't rehash that situation here.

Bell Media announced a deal for "Max Originals" programming back in October but has been mostly tight-lipped since then about how programs would be rolled out, or if it will affect much about Crave itself. That said, we've noticed that a few HBO Max programs have shown up on the Crave linear TV channel schedules beginning on May 28, including Legendary, Craftopia, and Love Life.

We weren't sure about these programs since Bell's deal was announced as covering scripted programs from Warner Bros. – which doesn't quite fit any of these (the first two are reality competitions; Love Life is scripted but it's from Lionsgate). But at least at the outset it makes sense that Crave would grab these launch programs to make sure Canadians understand where to go for (most) HBO Max programming. Presumably the international distribution rights to Legendary and Craftopia are controlled by Warner anyways, while Lionsgate has an ongoing relationship with Bell for Starz programs.

Not on Crave's schedule (so far): Sesame Street spinoff The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo, the new Looney Tunes Cartoons shorts, and documentary On the Record. We still think the first two will end up with Corus due to its existing relationships with Sesame Workshop and WB Animation / Cartoon Network, though they may not debut right away. On the Record strikes us as the kind of documentary that could easily go into Crave's Monday night docs slot, but there's no sign of it yet (though it appears June 1 and 8 will be taken up by Laurel Canyon, a two-part music documentary from Epix).

We've updated our posts on HBO Max and Crave's May programming to reflect these changes.

Prime bulks up

We've noticed recently that Amazon Prime Video has been more aggressive in acquiring outside content in Canada. It appears that Prime now has the pay-1 streaming rights to Paramount films (previously on Netflix) starting with last summer's Rocketman, as well as Sony films (previously on Crave) starting with last fall's Zombieland: Double Tap.

More recently, on top of its growing originals library, Prime acquired most international rights to Hulu's Little Fires Everywhere (distributed by Disney) as well as – we think – Canada-only rights to period comedy The Great (distributed by Paramount) despite the latter going to Starz or HBO in many other countries.

To be clear, we don't think there's anything special about Canada in this regard – it seems to be much the same in most countries – but we're interested to see how these sorts of relationships evolve moving forward.

(Reminder: We have an affiliate relationship with Amazon – but we try not to have this doesn't affect when or why we write about Amazon.)

Odds and ends

  • Speaking of Paramount: ViacomCBS is accelerating the revamp of its CBS All Access SVOD service into a "House of Brands" product. It separately mentioned  plans for an international pay streaming service. It's not clear yet which of these will wind up in Canada in place of the current (reduced) version of CBSAA.
  • CBC Gem has acquired the Canadian rights to the BBC/Hulu-commissioned series Normal People, to debut starting May 27. We've updated our Hulu post to reflect this change (and the Prime Video acquisitions noted above)
  • Super Channel (previously available OTT only through Prime Video Channels) and Cottage Life are now available on Apple TV Channels in Canada.
  • The previously-noted U.S. move of RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars from VH1 to Showtime has been reversed, though neither move would have affected the Canadian broadcasts on OutTV and Crave.

Recent updates on WCIW

Apart from the changes re HBO Max / Crave and Hulu noted above, we've recently updated the following pages:

  • The Last Dance – In addition to availability in Canada on Netflix, this series will re-air on ABC weekly starting tonight (Saturday, May 23).
  • The Good Wife – The current fourth season will end after seven episodes (on May 28 on CBS All Access U.S.). W Network has not yet posted any updates on its broadcast plans.

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