Watching This Week #104
An abbreviated newsletter with updated listings for March 20-26, 2023.
What you need to know about Netflix's new ad-supported option in Canada, plus more Nick programming on Paramount+, and other news from mid-October 2022.
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Hello, and welcome to the October 17, 2022, edition of Watching This Week, the weekly newsletter from Where Can I Watch – covering the latest news on where TV shows and movies will be available in Canada.
Ahead, we look at the upcoming new ad-supported plan option on Netflix Canada, and a new streaming home for Nickelodeon programming here (probably where you'd expect). Plus we answer questions about Ted Lasso, Reginald the Vampire, and more. But first, here's what's ahead on Canadian TV and streaming this week.
Compiled from our monthly listings and/or any subsequent updates we've come across. We strive for accuracy but schedules may change without notice. Some series/seasons may have weekly rollouts; we won't list new episodes every week (though we may note significant episodes such as series finales). The most notable premiere for each service (in our rough estimation) is bolded. *An asterisk denotes programming added in past weeks that we've learned about since our last newsletter.
We learned a bit more this past week about the previously-announced ad-supported version of Netflix, which will launch in Canada at the beginning of next month.
First, to be abundantly clear, if you are a Netflix subscriber today, the company has indicated that you should not start seeing ads on Netflix unless you specifically downgrade to the new plan. The prices for the ad-free plans are also staying the same for now, starting at $9.99 for the Basic plan, after having increased earlier this year.
The new plan will be called "Basic with Ads" and will cost C$5.99 per month in Canada. As you might be able to guess, it will be very similar to the current Basic plan, but with an average of 4 to 5 minutes of advertising per hour. Both the ad-supported and ad-free Basic plans will now allow for up to 720p HD resolution (currently, the Basic plan only allows SD-level quality; you'll still need a higher tier plan for 1080p or above).
Interestingly, the Canadian price of Basic with Ads will actually be lower than in the U.S., even ignoring currency conversion: it will cost US$6.99 per month south of the border. We suspect Netflix is treating this as an experiment, and will eventually compare the performance in the various countries where the ad-supported plan is launching, to help it figure out the optimal long-term pricing for this plan globally.
The main other thing to note is that, per Netflix, a "limited number" of films and series will not be available due to licensing restrictions. It's not yet clear which programs will be affected, but we imagine they'll be older licensed programs, not the majority of Netflix originals.
The reason for this is that some distributors split streaming rights between ad-free and ad-supported services, and until very recently Netflix only really cared about the former, not the latter. For example, the 2009–15 sitcom Community, which is distributed by Sony, is available ad-free on Netflix but is free with ads on CTV Throwback.
The new plan will be available for sign-ups starting Tuesday, November 1, at noon Eastern time, 9:00 a.m. Pacific.
Today, October 17, marks the 25th anniversary of the 1997 launch of what the Canadian TV industry called "Tier III", though consumers may remember the specialty channel package by names such as Rogers' "MeTV" or Cable Atlantic's "Show Stoppers", or from generic national ads like this one.
Coming not long after the January 1995 launch of Tier II (and the resulting negative-option billing debacle), it seemed to go fairly smoothly, with much better initial uptake than the digital channels that began to launch in late 2001.
The specialty channels launched as part of the tier were: The Comedy Network (now CTV Comedy), HGTV Canada, History Television (now The History Channel Canada), OLN, Space (now CTV Sci-Fi), and Teletoon. Prime (now DTour) launched the same day, but not all providers took it initially.
On most providers, Family Channel and WTBS Atlanta (now WPCH "Peachtree TV") also moved to the tier from the scrambled pay section of the dial, with a few American services like CNBC, Golf Channel, and Speedvision (now Fox Sports Racing) being commonly included as well. CTV News 1 (now CTV News Channel) also launched with its revolving desk the same day, but went directly to basic cable in most cases, as did Treehouse TV which launched two weeks later.
Most of these channels are still going strong, though they've all been affected to varying degrees by the move towards streaming TV.
Bell's CTV Comedy and CTV Sci-Fi still have some original and exclusive programming, but outside of a few specific timeslots, their schedules are filled with rerun marathons of past scripted series like The Big Bang Theory.
Corus' HGTV, History, Teletoon, and Treehouse all seem to have acquitted themselves well in terms of both new programming and a variety of not-so-new programs, and the same could be said for Family, now owned by WildBrain. DTour, also owned by Corus and now focused on the paranormal, does much more of the marathoning.
Then there's OLN, now owned by Rogers, which has long since given up any pretense about a focus on outdoor life (it probably didn't help that it was based on an American channel that later refocused on general sports; the most recent version of that channel, NBCSN, shut down at the end of last year). Its programming now consists of Impractical Jokers marathons and repeats of programs aired on Citytv.
Will these channels make it to a 50th anniversary? At this point, we'd be willing to predict not all of them will make it. But some of the channels seem strong enough that they might live on that long, though perhaps at a much lower number of viewers, or as a section of another streaming service.
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.
Dorothy: We live in BC and got the first year of Ted Lasso. Is there any access to years 2, 3 etc.?
WCIW: There have only been two seasons of Ted Lasso, with a total of 22 episodes across both seasons, released so far. To the best of our knowledge, the only way (that has been authorized by the show's producers) to access either of them in Canada is through the Apple TV+ streaming service, which costs $5.99 per month (with a free trial available for first-time subscribers).
As explained in this article we published last year, Ted Lasso is produced by an outside studio, Warner Bros., which retained some linear distribution rights. So at one point it was possible to purchase season 1 as a one-time digital purchase in the United States. But it doesn’t look like that was ever possible in Canada, and it no longer seems to be available in the U.S. either; nor does it seem to be available on any kind of authorized DVD. It's possible one of these options may return in the future, but it's not guaranteed.
Inge: Do you know if Reginald the Vampire will be available to stream in Canada? I see it is on Syfy in the U.S. but not seeing a link to Canada, and it looks like a lot of fun!
Randy: I've been trying to watch Reginald the Vampire on Prime Video, but it's tough to find on its app. It doesn't show up in any of the new programming content list, and the dates seem to be all messed up. Prime support has told me it's not available in Canada. Is it just me or is there an issue at Prime here?
WCIW: So yes, first of all, Reginald the Vampire – the vampire comedy series starring Jacob Batalon, best known as Ned from the Spider-Man MCU "Home" films – is available on Prime Video in Canada, after Amazon bought streaming rights in select countries earlier this year.
As for the episode dates listed on Prime, there does seem to be a minor mismatch between the dates listed and when those episodes will actually be available. We can’t speak to why the dates have been listed the way they are – perhaps a schedule change – but we don’t expect Prime Video to make episodes available until after they air in the U.S. (where Syfy is airing episodes weekly on Wednesday nights). So new episodes should be released on Thursdays.
It is a bit curious that all of the episodes are listed now – perhaps they’ve already been finalized and uploaded into Amazon’s systems already, just blocked until broadcast.
Beth: Where did [1984–96 CBS series] Murder, She Wrote go? I wanted to watch some favourite episodes in memory of [the late] Angela Lansbury, but it's not on Amazon Prime Video any more. Any ideas?
WCIW: We can’t find it to stream at the moment either (at least not anywhere legitimate in Canada). Possibly it’s in transition to another service, but streamers have commonly dropped licensed series and movies that don’t get a sufficient audience to justify the licensing fees they pay (the series was produced and is distributed by Universal Television).
Shane: Do you know where any of the following will be available to stream in Canada:
WCIW: Unfortunately, we have not yet come across any of these programs – respectively produced by A24, Spyglass Media, and Scout Productions – being made available in Canada as of yet. It's possible that the Peacock programs could be covered under NBCUniversal's output deal with Corus – depending on whether NBCU secured global distribution rights – but that's not clear yet.
We've seen a couple of anecdotal pointers towards Hellraiser possibly going to Paramount+ internationally given that Paramount distributed the recent Spyglass-produced reboot of Scream, but there's been nothing definitive.
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