Posted February 1, 2021 • Last updated February 7, 2021

This Week in WCIW #7

News about programs coming to Star on Disney+ Canada, plus "Justice League", "Helter Skelter", and more.

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Welcome to 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.

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Star strategy

Disney+ has finally announced the full list of programming coming to its Star hub in Canada. Like Disney+'s other Canada-specific announcements, the list has been sent to some media outlets but has not been posted on any Disney site.

As had been made clear when Star was announced late last year, the initial lineup draws heavily on the programming that Disney owns outright through labels like Touchstone Pictures, ABC Studios/Signature, and 20th Century Fox/Studios.

Still, the Canadian selection is still a bit wider than we were anticipating. Yes, many of the shows are single-season flops like Terra Nova and Bordertown (we expect this is the 2016 Fox animated comedy, not the 1989-91 Canadian-made Western drama that aired on CTV) that may not have had streaming buyers otherwise. A few more are shows like Futurama and Firefly that have been on streaming in Canada previously but have had their contracts expire.

A few more Disney-owned shows like Cake (the FXX anthology series, which has never been carried by FX or FXX Canada), Helstrom (the last holdover from the now-defunct Marvel Television), Love, Victor, and Solar Opposites, will be available in Canada for the first time.

But there are also plenty of shows that will be on Star despite already have one or more streaming homes in Canada, like Family Guy (Netflix), Homeland (Netflix and Crave), The X-Files (Prime Video), Bones (same), and Felicity (Crave). The same goes for many of the movies, which are available on add-on services like Starz, Super Channel, and/or Hollywood Suite. On the other hand, there are still a couple of shows  – like Bob's Burgers (currently on Prime) – that would seem to fit similar criteria but are absent, at least for now.

Our expectation is that going forward, as existing contracts expire, these programs will move exclusively to Star. Of course, that might take a while – Felicity was added to Crave barely a month ago.

What about the FX catalogue? Besides the ongoing Cake, the past FX-owned series set to be available are The League, Sons of Anarchy, Tyrant, and Terriers (updated February 7: we've now also noticed Man Seeking Woman and The Strain there). But that's it. Maybe some other past series like The Americans will be rolled out at a later time. But clearly, Rogers' exclusivity on more recent series will continue for some time yet.

Programming news

  • HBO Max announced that Zack Snyder's Justice League will debut on Thursday, March 18, on the U.S. service as well as on existing HBO-owned streaming services in Europe and Asia. Bell Media immediately reposted that announcement, which was later updated to clarify that Crave would also be carrying the newly-recut film in Canada on March 18. We thought the Canadian availability might be delayed given that a rival channel (Showcase) has been airing the original cut in recent months, but it seems that is no longer a conflict, if it ever was.
  • CBC Gem's new programming for February includes, as previously announced, Canadian premieres of music mockumentary series Sherman's Showcase (from IFC U.S.) and British drama Belgravia (from Carnival Films, ITV and Epix). Not previously announced, the BBC dramatic film Anthony will be added as well. Listed as "coming in March" are European drama series Bad Banks (aired by Hulu in the U.S.) and BBC comedy series Ladhood.
  • Hollywood Suite has picked up Canadian rights to docu-series Helter Skelter: An American Myth, which premiered this past July on Epix in the U.S. and was produced by Warner Horizon Unscripted Television; it will air Thursday nights on its 2000s Movies channel starting February 11. Combined with Hollywood Suite's previous pickup of Valley of Tears, presumably from HBO Max (which had bought global distribution rights), it seems the service is becoming a secondary home for WarnerMedia-distributed programming that, for whatever reason, is not being picked up by Bell Media / Crave (or Corus, for that matter).
  • Programming that originates on the Canadian networks is not really a big part of what we cover – WCIW is more about helping Canadians find buzzy shows from elsewhere. So we won't dwell on the CBC's decision to cancel Trickster too much here, but we think this piece (may be paywalled) by Anishnawbe playwright Drew Hayden Taylor provides a good perspective on why many in the Indigenous community were upset by the decision, despite the controversy that had led to the cancellation.

Other notes

  • Pro wrestling Sports entertainment company WWE was one of the first big legacy media brands to go all-in on streaming with its WWE Network service in 2014. However, it has now sold U.S. distribution rights to the service's programming to NBCUniversal – meaning that, starting in mid-March, WWEN will no longer be available as a standalone service in the United States. In all other countries, all indications are that WWEN will continue to operate as-is, at least for now, including in Canada where it's never been officially available over-the-top, instead being distributed by Rogers (at least until 2024) and sold as a premium channel through TV service providers.

Recent updates on WCIW

There are no new posts on WCIW this week, but the HBO Max and Peacock posts have been updated to reflect some of the news noted above, while the post for The Little Things has been updated with retailer links following its digital rental release in Canada. We will be updating the FX and Hulu pages based on this week's programming announcements for Star in the coming days.

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