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Hello, and we hope you had a enjoyable long weekend. Welcome to the April 18, 2022, 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, news about a certain caped crusader and a band of Muppets that are both arriving on Crave. But first, Citytv goes streaming.
Rogers bypasses the cable box
Apart from its brief involvement in Shomi (2014–2016), Rogers has been the last major Canadian private-sector conventional broadcaster to keep the bulk of its entertainment programming exclusive to TV provider subscribers, well after the launch of Bell Media's Crave, Corus' StackTV, or even Rogers' sports service Sportsnet Now.
While it was – and still is – possible to watch some Citytv programs on the channel's website and apps for free without a TV provider subscription, most past episodes are restricted to those who can sign in with their provider (sometimes known as "TV Everywhere" authentication), or else watch on-demand via a provider set-top box. Meanwhile, current programming from Rogers' FX / FXX cable channels, like the new season of Mayans M.C. that starts this week, would be completely unavailable to cord-cutters (and it was only at the beginning of this year that the majority of FX series / seasons began to roll onto Disney+ in Canada).
As of this past Tuesday, however, Rogers has rejoined the fray with Citytv+, a $4.99-per-month (all prices are before applicable taxes) add-on channel on the Prime Video platform which includes programming not only from Citytv but also FX, FXX, and Omni, Rogers' multicultural network.
Before cord-cutters get too excited about getting their Canada's Got Talent fix, there are a couple of important caveats, both shared with StackTV. The first is that, at least for now, you can only subscribe to Citytv+ if you have an Amazon Prime subscription – which, as mentioned last week, is now $9.99 per month (or $99.00 per year). It's possible – indeed likely – that, like StackTV, Citytv+ will eventually also become available for direct billing through Rogers for Ignite TV subscribers and SmartStream device users, but until then, there will be that double charge.
The second caveat is that, as an ad sales executive for Rogers made very clear in the announcement, on-demand programming will contain advertising. Essentially, that $4.99 per month is a way to replace the monthly bulk carriage fees that customers would otherwise need to pay to get Rogers-owned cable channels (and maybe a bit more), but not all of the ad revenue.
For existing cable customers, it should be noted that, as far as we could tell, everything available in Citytv+ can also be accessed with a subscription from most traditional TV providers if that subscription includes Citytv, Omni, FX, and FXX. On-demand program and app availability may vary slightly by provider – Bell, for example, still doesn't support the FXNow apps – but in general, if you get Citytv and FX on cable, the only real "plus" from Citytv+ would be the ability to watch those same shows inside the Prime Video app.
As part of this launch Rogers has also added live linear feeds of most of the local Citytv stations to the main Prime Video subscription, as well as a new "CityNews 24/7" streaming news channel, similar to the Global News feeds also available on Prime (and which in fact is also available on the CityNews website).
While the launch of Citytv+ doesn't yet mean that "full cable" can be fully replaced by streaming, it brings that point a lot closer. We plan to have more thoughts on that point in a future post.
- After more than a year where new Warner Bros. releases made their first appearances on Crave several months after their U.S. streaming debuts on HBO Max, Crave confirmed this past Monday that The Batman – released in theatres barely six weeks ago – would be available to stream starting today, April 18, the same day as it's being released in the U.S. on HBO Max. (We had previously spotted airings of The Batman on Crave's linear cable channels starting on April 23 in a schedule posted on the service's website.)
This would seem to bode well for other WB releases to arrive on a similar timeline. For example, if the same schedule is used for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (released in theatres this past Friday), it would arrive on HBO Max and Crave on Monday, May 30.
- In another apparent move in Crave becoming more like HBO Max (at least for now), the service has confirmed it will be carrying Sesame Street on a season-behind basis, with season 51, which premiered on HBO Max and Treehouse in 2020–21, as well as a twenty-episode set of classic episodes becoming available this past Friday (after initially appearing on Crave's March release lineup). Season 52, and several spinoff series like the computer-animated Mecha Builders, will arrive later this year.
While Bell Media describes the deal as making Crave "the Canadian streaming home of Sesame Street", the deal does not appear to affect availability of premiere airings of new episodes on Corus' preschooler-aimed specialty channel Treehouse TV, or for that matter their streaming availability on StackTV, at least within a certain timeframe of their broadcasts on Treehouse. Last month, Corus subsidiary Nelvana announced a renewal of its position as exclusive merchandising representative for Sesame Street in Canada, and in doing so noted the continued presence of the program on Corus' services.
- This Wednesday, April 20, marks the ninth edition of National Canadian Film Day, when a number of domestic movies will be featured on various TV channels, as well as being featured on various streaming services. Some channels (like CHCH) will air a Canadian film as its one primetime movie offering; others (like Crave) will air multiple Canadian movies across their channels during the day; others still will be focusing on specific groups of Canadian films – the Hollywood Suite 2000s Movies channel, for example, will carry an all-day series of films from Indigenous creators.
Here's some of the reader questions we've received recently by email (email@example.com) or Twitter (@wherewatchtv). We welcome questions of general interest, and publish a few of them (and our answers) from time to time; messages may be edited for brevity and clarity.
Sylvain: What will happen now with Discovery+ Canada based on the merger? And when will Paramount+ will be available on Amazon Prime Video Canada?
We provided our views on what's likely to happen with Discovery+ in Canada a few weeks ago, and that view hasn't really changed: it'll probably remain a separate service in Canada for now, even if it ends up being combined with HBO Max in the U.S. and elsewhere. Longer term, we still think the most likely scenario is that whatever becomes of Discovery+ Canada will absorb HBO Max content in 2025 after Crave's contracts for that content expires, but a lot could happen between now and then.
As for Paramount+ on Prime Video, while the services have a partnership in the U.S., that particular deal dates back to the CBS All Access days, when the service was being positioned as more of an add-on type of service, whereas its positioning now is as more of a direct competitor to services like, well, Prime Video.
As a result, while it doesn't really harm Paramount+ to keep these existing partnerships going for now (including their similar channels partnership with Apple TV which includes Canada), they probably won't be extending it to any further partners or countries, as they'd prefer to focus on getting as many new customers as possible to go through their own apps. And at some point they may even leave Prime Video entirely, as HBO did last fall in the U.S. (with a corresponding, if temporary, loss of customers).
Recent updates on WCIW
We've updated existing posts about The Batman, Sesame Street, and FX programming to reflect the news above. We've also added a new post about Mayans M.C., the FX series whose fourth seasons begins this week, to clarify its availability on both linear TV and streaming in Canada.
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