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He Said/She Said: What channels will you select for Pick & Pay?

Join Greg and Diane on Mondays as we debate a TV-related issue that’s on our minds. This week: What channels will you select for Pick & Pay?

The CRTC announced what everyone in the Canadian TV industry suspected was coming: a pick and pay model of television. As Kelly Lynn Ashton outlined in her latest Wonk Report, starting in March 2016 cable and satellite companies must implement a skinny basic at $25 that includes local channels, mandatory carriage channels, educational channels and provincial legislature channels. They must also offer either the opportunity to pick and pay for individual channels or small packages that they either build or are themed.

By December 2016, cable and satellite companies must offer both individual and small package choices on top of skinny basic.

So, what pick and pay channels would we choose to be part of our cable lineups in addition to the basic cable package we’ll already have? Below are Diane’s and my picks; let us know yours in the Comments section or via @tv_eh.

He Said:

  • History: I need my fix of Vikings, Gangland Undercover and the infuriating Oak Island Mysteries
  • Showcase: So that I can see the last season of Haven and more Outlander
  • Food Network Canada: For Chopped Canada, You Gotta Eat Here and repeats of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
  • Sportsnet: As long as they air Blue Jays games, I’ll pay for Sportsnet
  • HBO Canada: I need this for U.S. programming like The Jinx, The Knick, Ray Donovan, Vice, True Detective and Last Week Tonight
  • HGTV: I don’t tune in often, but when I do it’s to watch Mike Holmes, Scott McGillivray, Timber Kings and anything starring Bryan Baeumler or Paul Lafrance
  • Space: Orphan Black, Bitten and Doctor Who
  • W Network: So my couchmate can grab her fix of Hugh Grant movies

She Said:

Ooh, Hugh Grant movies. But I have DVDs, Netflix and Xbox Video to cover me on that. Sorry, W Network.

I have a whole other decision to make before I get to picking channels: do I even want to go back to cable? I’ll have to look at the options when skinny basic and pick and pay is available, including whatever package deal I might be able to get with internet, before seeing if I’m even moderately tempted. It’s really, really nice not to have that cable bill. Between an over the air antenna, Netflix, and Chromecast to see online shows on my TV set, I don’t feel I’m missing anything right now.

The one thing that might tip the balance is if I could get a cheap skinny basic package that included the US channels (which I can’t pick up where I live on OTA) from a provider that offers a discount with internet and also offers CraveTV. And a pony? As long as Crave still has the HBO library that might be enough to tempt me back.

Even then, I’m skeptical. I’m looking at the channel listing right now thinking … hello old friends. I don’t really miss you.

That said, if I did decide to go back, and I did decide to supplement skinny basic, here’s what I’d want:

  • Fluidity. No, that’s not a channel, that’s my way of saying I’d want to subscribe and unsubscribe to channels regularly as TV series I want to watch come and go. If AMC had another Breaking Bad, I’d be there. But right now … meh. I can wait for Better Call Saul to pop up elsewhere.
  • HBO Canada: This channel is home to many series I can’t easily get another way and suspect (or know, from the ones I have seen) I would like. The Comeback, Hello Girls, The Knick, Olive Kitteridge, Togetherness, Silicon Valley, Veep, Sensitive Skin. I think I could have just HBO Canada and be happy.
  • Movie Central: If I could have HBO Canada and Movie Central I’d be happier. Episodes, Nurse Jackie, Masters of Sex, House of Lies, plus movies, of course. Also HBO Canada/Movie Central used to have some of the best Canadian series on the air — Call Me Fitz and Less Than Kind, to name two — and I’d love to see what else they come up with.

Hmm, listing all those great series makes me think going back to cable might not be such a long shot after all. Still, no cable bill is awfully nice, and I suspect my picks would have my skinny basic getting fat very quickly.

So your turn … what channels would you stick with?

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from countless programs. Survivor winners, Donald Trump, Jerry Bruckheimer ... he has interviewed (literally) hundreds of TV people over the course of his career. He is a past member of the Television Critics Association.
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13 thoughts on “He Said/She Said: What channels will you select for Pick & Pay?”

  1. It’s all a bit late for TV content providers.

    The only reason it still exists is because of lazy habit. Forcing people to think about it will probably cause many to realize how archaic and redundant the system is in the face of the Internet, not to mention the pathetic content provided.

    Then again, the people who spend their free hours drooling at TV shows are kind of archaic and redundant themselves – setting their PVRs to record shows of people opening storage lockers on Alaskan ice roads. IT’S THE WORST STORM IN 20 YEARS AND THE ICE IS STARTING TO CRACK!

  2. Food TV: Triple-D, Knife Fight, YGEH, Eat St.
    Documentary Channel: For documentaries
    Smithsonian: For documentaries
    Love Nature: For documentaries
    HIFI TV: Lots of Bourdain reruns, music content
    Cottage Life: Because winters are long
    Discovery Velocity: Planes, trains and automobiles

  3. I don’t watch any “commercial” television, and by that I mean the big US networks and their two sycophants in Canada. I do watch NFL once each week during the season, and I try not to miss “The Simpsons”.

    I support the idea of CBC, but never watch anything … not hockey, not news. And, aside, same for radio 1, 2, and 3, which has nothing for me.

    Almost all of my viewing is HBO, AMC, and the like. I find some good viewing on HiFi (but they’re losin’ me fast with endless amounts of Anthony Bourdain), Velocity (which has all the shows that I mighta’ watched on Speed without the NASCAR mentality), and Discovery (for science-themed shows, not their pathetic reality junk). I watch a bit of History, avoiding the awful “paranormal” trash.

    I don’t want any food shows, endless sports shows that look like radio programs, French networks, music channels on my TV, 24-hour news of the Fox type – or CNN type, celebrity-chasing channels, scandalous talk shows and Dr. shows, or hours of product sales … I guess that’s about 90% of the programming.

    Netflix gets some of my time, but they really needa’ find a better way to display titles, because I often tune out rather than browse endlessly.

    I’m about ready to break the cable connection if my bill doesn’t go way, way down.

  4. After discussion with my spouse, we decided these would be the only channels we want on tv. Would also want some streaming
    Content.

    KNOWLEDGE NETWORK, PBS, CBC, SPORTSNET, NGW, ESPN, WFN, BBCCA, SCI, NGEOG, CTV, WFN, REW, SILVR, GLOBAL, SPACE, TCM, TREEH, CBCNN , AMITV, SMITH, HIST, NGEOD,

  5. About the only channels I would keep are TCM, Showcase (although endless repeats of NCIS may make me want to
    cancel), BNN, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, CNBC, maybe CNN
    but not during presidential election year when that is the
    only thing that exists in their small universe, Vision (for the British comedies) and maybe AMC and Bravo.
    I would definitely dumpy every single sports channel, History,
    Space, HGTV , A&E, and Discovery, They are all dominated by reality crap now and I don’t even bother to check them any more.

  6. Channels?
    I want whole broadcasts from South Africa, Mauritius, Nigeria, Chile, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Turkey, France, Spain, Finland etc.

    We lack much internationalization here.

  7. Netflix has a good enough selection for the kids and if I was cut off from satellite tomorrow, I would be kept plenty busy enough with Netflix forever BUT there would be more than a few shows I’d mourn and miss from regular tv, including 11 I definitely wouldn’t be willing to go without: Orphan Black (Space), Nashville (ABC), Outlander (Showcase), Vikings (History), Reign (M3/CW), The Originals (CHCH/CW), Empire (FOX), Revenge (City TV), Chasing Life (ABC Spark), Arrow (CTV/CW) and Grey’s Anatomy (CTV). That would mean I’d have to get Skinny Basic plus subscribe to CW, ABC, FOX, Space, ABC Spark, Showcase and History. Plus there’s Winnipeg Jets games on Sportsnet/TSN and Saskatchewan Roughriders games on TSN. And then my husband has to have Discovery Channel (for Gold Rush, Ice Cold Gold and Yukon Men), HGTV (for Timber Kings), History (for Swamp People and Mountain Men) and Wild TV (for all his hunting shows). When all is said and done, there are just way too many channels that we watch, and it wouldn’t likely be beneficial to go a la carte. Here are are Top 20 channels currently watched in our household:

    #1 CW
    #2 History
    #3 CTV
    #4 CBC
    #5 TSN
    #6 Treehouse
    #7 Disney Junior
    #8 Discovery Channel
    #9 Wild TV
    #10 Sportsnet
    #11 ABC
    #12 FOX
    #13 ABC Spark
    #14 MTV
    #15 Space Channel
    #16 HGTV
    #17 City TV
    #18 CBC Newsworld
    #19 M3
    #20 Vision TV

    1. What annoys me is that 95% of the shows my husband and I watch come on between 6pm and 12am and we watch all our shows via the dvr. We are paying for all this tv when we really only want to watch primetime shows. Ultimately, we’d like to go to an on demand system only, subscribing to Netflix, Shomi and Crave TV. However, damn NHL, CFL and Wild TV will keep us paying for satellite.

    2. Or you could just use torrents and file lockers and get everything you want and more from a global selection. We don’t get Big Brother UK and Australia in Canada, but my wife has access to all of them thanks to torrents, file lockers and YouTube down loaders. From what I understand Netflix is often a season behind aired TV and only keeps seasons up for so long. I don’t have these limitations.

      1. We have a 20GB monthly limit where we live (satellite internet is our only option) and video streaming takes too much data up to eliminate satellite plus our internet often gets too slow for video streaming. Netflix only seems to work for us half the time.

  8. Why pay Bell or Rogers when most of the content is available on-line (check out the network web sites). I cut the cord 2 years ago. Now I watch what I want when I want. The biggest surprise is that I watch much less TV now. I no longer watch crap TV because the show I want come on in an hour. And the best part, I save $75/month. A year and a half of savings paid for the 2 Mac Minis I bought for my TVs.

    I even tried to sign up for Shomi but Rogers is trying to transfer their monopoly from cable onto the internet by limiting it to their subscribers only. They, along with Bell and Cogeco, are also somehow getting networks to block non-subscribers from the online content. I guess the Competition Bureau is asleep on this one. Maybe a few complaints are warranted.

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