WonkReport

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I’m talking OTT and SVOD in Canada here so I’m not going to finish the quote.  I played around with Shomi during the free 30 day trial that I was entitled to as a Rogers subscriber. Then Bell Media was nice enough to give me a 30 day guest pass to the mobile version of CraveTV (since I’m not a Bell subscriber that’s all I could get). So I’ve played around a little, to the extent possible.

Here’s my problem. What I would really like to have is impossible either because of outdated business models, Canadian broadcast regulation or a lack of Canadian OTT regulation. I’m stuck.

I would like to have a service that flows seamlessly between my television and my iPad (my kid would also like it to work on her shiny new Nexus phone) so that I could switch platforms in mid-episode or at least keep track of which episode I’m on in mid-binge. This is possible with Netflix but not possible with Shomi and CraveTV because their OTT platforms (the tablet, web and phone platforms) and SVOD (Subscription VOD on your TV) are licensed separately (OTT being exempt from regulation and SVOD being fully regulated).

I would like a Canadian service that supports Canadian programming on all of its platforms. Shomi and CraveTV have to make a contribution to Canadian programming and provide a quota on their SVOD platforms according to VOD regulation, but have no such obligation for their OTT platforms. Netflix has no requirement at all.

I would like to watch the Golden Globes and know that I have access to the cool new shows like “Transparent” (Shomi quickly announced during the awards that they will be carrying it, it is on OTT service Amazon Studios in the U.S.) and “House of Cards” (on Netflix) without having to pay separate OTT subscriptions for each one. Exclusivity is a model that only frustrates the consumer in the Internet world.

I would like to be able to be a Rogers cable, internet and wireless subscriber (well, maybe not but I am anyway) and subscribe to CraveTV. CraveTV is only available to Bell, Telus and a few smaller BDUs and is unlikely to be available to subscribers of their competition. While Shomi and CraveTV are very similar in how they work, and both have lovely interfaces on the mobile platforms (though both were buggy on their web platforms), I would like to have the option to subscribe to CraveTV if I want to and not be locked in to Shomi because of my cable provider.

So, as a Canadian and a lover of television, CRTC regulation and the BDU business models are not working for me right now.

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Kelly Lynne Ashton

Kelly Lynne has over twenty years of experience on the business side of Canadian film, television and digital media as an entertainment lawyer.She took a slight departure to produce children’s digital media. When it was time for something new, moved back to business affairs but now in film, television and digital media. More recently she discovered that all along her true calling was as a Canadian media policy wonk. Now she assists clients with research projects, policy and strategy development, government and government agency submissions and social media consulting.
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10 thoughts on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

  1. Wait, so if I pay for CraveTV on my on demand through Telus, I can’t use it on my laptop and would have to pay again? Or maybe I’m not understanding, which is also a frequent occurrence?

  2. No, that’s probably me being not clear enough. They are regulated as two separate services but for the consumer they are one service (and one bill). They just don’t integrate as well as Netflix does because underneath they are two services.

    1. Ah okay that makes sense. Also love that I can’t seem to log on to the online version because it says my Telus Optik username doesn’t exist, even though I’m staring at my Optik account in another window… le sigh. But I love The Wire so I will persist!

  3. Thanks for putting all of your thoughts in a succinct package, Kelly Lynn. I’m a Rogers and Netflix subscriber who got CraveTV to try out and I feel exactly the same way that you do. I love Crave (mostly for the HBO back catalogue) but I can’t subscribe after the free trial. Shomi is definitely a step in the right direction, and I’m enjoying watching The Twilight Zone there. If I could subscribe to shomi AND CraveTV and Netflix and drop all of my other cable TV channels, I would.

  4. I can’t get either Shomi or Crave TV and I probably won’t because I refuse to pay extra than what I’m paying now. I’d subscribe to both as an alternative to paying for expensive satellite tv (there’s no cable available where I live) but that’s not an option yet.

  5. You can access Shomi or CraveTV on mobile or a tablet, but has anyone stopped to calculate the the data cost. My mobile plan only allows for 2 GB per month. One HD movie uses 1 GB. One hockey game uses 1 1/2 GB. On my home satellite service I am easily burning through the 75 GB limit per month. These services are much more expensive than we realize.

    1. I apparently have unlimited data on my phone BUT as soon as it hits 2GB it slows to what I’d call dial-up speed and you can’t load any pictures or videos. As for home internet, I have Xplornet (no other options where I live) which is satellite internet. It costs me $85 a month and there’s a limit of 20GB. If I was to theoretically, if the various services were available stand-alone, cut the cord and go with only Netflix, Crave TV, Shomi and TSN Live, I think I’d use up my bandwith too quickly.

    2. Yes James, I was freaked out by the fact that streaming anything on these services uses up my data quickly. I tried using shomi on my television, but the UI for TV is horrible.

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