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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 – for February 15.
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[Updated February 24, see bottom of section for latest]
That seems to have been one of the biggest questions in Canadian media content availability this past week. A new documentary titled Framing Britney Spears, produced by The New York Times and examining the conservatorship of the singer and the #FreeBritney movement, debuted on FX and Hulu in the U.S. on February 5, but it was nowhere to be found in Canada (via authorized means), not even on FX Canada.
So what's going on here?
In mid-2019, The New York Times launched a weekly docuseries called, appropriately, The Weekly, a TV spinoff of the NYT's daily podcast The Daily. The series was commissioned by FX and Hulu, but for reasons that have never been entirely clear, it seems FX only acquired U.S. rights, with Red Arrow Studios, parent company of the series' co-producer Left/Right Productions, handling international sales. A few international services picked up local rights to the series, but none of those were in Canada.
In May 2020, FX and Hulu announced that the series would be transitioning to a monthly format as The New York Times Presents. Red Arrow is once again handling international sales of the program, this time under the title The Weekly: Special Edition. But once again, to the best of our knowledge, no service has acquired Canadian rights to the series. (That being said, it's not entirely clear whether all the international services that acquired the original weekly program, like SBS in Australia, have followed up with this iteration.)
So if Rogers / FX Canada – or any other Canadian broadcaster or streaming service – wants to be able to air or stream Framing Britney Spears, they'd need to deal with Red Arrow. To be abundantly clear, this means that, as far as we call tell, Rogers does not have the same automatic access to NYT Presents as it does for other FX series, nor does Disney hold any residual Canadian rights that it could shift to, say, Star.
And, based on how the series is presented on Red Arrow's website, any service that does want to pick up Framing may not be able to grab just that one documentary – they might also have to buy the seven other documentaries (including two more yet to be released) in the current season.
Will the instant impact of Framing be enough for Red Arrow to make some sales where it was previously unable? Or will services want to pay for eight documentaries when there is really only one (so far) that seems to have broken through?
We reached out to Red Arrow over the weekend to ask if there was any further information they could share, and will update the web version of this newsletter if they provide comment.
Update (February 24): Red Arrow announced yesterday that Crave had acquired Canadian rights to The New York Times Presents, including Framing Britney Spears. Crave confirmed that pickup later that day, saying that Framing Britney would be available on Friday, February 26. We'll have more in an upcoming edition of This Week in WCIW.
- Crave has confirmed that it will carry in the coming months: HBO's The Crime of the Century, In Treatment revival, Mare of Easttown, and Tina; HBO Max's Generation; and Showtime's The Show (a documentary co-produced by Pepsi about this past week's Super Bowl halftime show with The Weeknd).
Crave did not make any confirmations about other shows announced (or updated) by HBO Max this week, including animated series like Clone High (MTV owns the IP, but Nelvana and Teletoon co-produced the original) and Velma (from Warner Bros., but Corus still seems to have dibs on WB Animation programming); the untitled comedy co-produced by Michael Schur and starring Jean Smart (produced by Universal TV); or the newly-remastered HD version of Sex and the City (we checked this weekend and they still only have the original SD version streaming).
- Speaking of Crave, the February issue of Movie Entertainment finally arrived in our mailbox on the 10th.* (We know, the mail system is a bit backed up these days.) The only real news is the "coming up" listings on the inside back page, which are always tentative, but in terms of what has not already been announced elsewhere in terms of scheduling, potentially mean that the 2020 film Lucky Grandma and the HBO documentary The Day Sports Stood Still could debut on Crave next month. (*Edited on February 23 to remove a satirically-intended comment. We've since become aware of other developments regarding the magazine; we wouldn't have included the comment if we'd been aware of them at the time.)
There's also a reference to a Keanu Reeves story, but it's not clear if that's in reference to a specific movie (his most recent film, Bill & Ted Face the Music, was released by VVS in Canada, and the English-language streaming rights to VVS films now generally go first to Netflix). Finally, there are mentions of features on Zack Snyder's Justice League, and on Wonder Woman – is the latter purely an aside to the former, or an indication of a moved-up Canadian streaming release for WW84? We'll probably find out in the next couple of weeks.
- Somehow we completely missed that Netflix had picked up international (ex-U.S.) rights to HBO Max adult animation series Close Enough back in September. We only realized this after seeing this tweet noting it in the context of the series' forthcoming second season (debuting on February 25 in the U.S.; the international release of the new season is not yet clear).
- If you set your PVR to record Belgravia on Sunday night on CBC, you may be in for a disappointment. The network decided to try repeating Canadian drama Pretty Hard Cases as the leadout to the season premiere of The Great Canadian Baking Show instead. While promotions for the encore aired throughout the day, it was clearly late enough that electronic program guides, and even the CBC's own schedule page, weren't updated (and the Ceeb didn't bother with any kind of program notice re Belgravia at the top of the hour).
The first episode of Belgravia is now available for all to stream on CBC Gem, with remaining episodes available for Gem Premium subscribers (and to be unlocked weekly for those who aren't). It's not yet clear if or how the series will be rescheduled on linear TV. (Update – February 18: TV listings are now showing the linear airings of Belgravia on CBC having been pushed back a week, with the premiere now on February 21.)
Recent updates on WCIW
- There's a new post about Nomadland, the Canadian release of which still seems a bit up in the air (but, at least as of a few days ago, was tentatively set for March 19, one month after the U.S. release).
- There's also a post about Land (which we swear is a different movie), which technically arrived in theatres (where open) this past weekend, but should hit PVOD in Canada by early March.
- A couple of missing programs (including the aforementioned Close Enough) were added to the HBO Max page.
- Judas and the Black Messiah is out on PVOD now, and our post has been updated with direct rental links.
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