CraveTV is a Canadian subscription video on demand service owned by Bell Media. The service is oriented towards television series, with a library of 10,000 hours of programming on-launch, and exclusive Canadian rights to HBO and Showtime's library of past programming. CraveTV can be subscribed to either as a pay television offering through a TV service provider, with programming available through that provider's video-on-demand library, or directly through the service's website. In both cases, content is available over-the-top through the CraveTV website and mobile apps.
Type of site
|Video on demand|
|Headquarters||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Launched||December 11, 2014|
CraveTV was initially positioned as a complement to an existing television subscription; as such, the service was not initially made available as a standalone product and could only be purchased through participating cable and satellite providers, although Bell promised that the service itself would be available to "every TV provider in Canada". Subsequently, Bell announced CraveTV would be made available on a standalone basis in January 2016. It competes directly with other subscription-based over-the-top streaming services, primarily the American-based services Netflix, and Amazon Video.
CraveTV is available via the video on demand library of subscribers' set-top boxes, and as an over-the-top service via its website, mobile apps, video game consoles, smart TVs, and other devices. Bell did not indicate any plans to make CraveTV available on a standalone over-the-top basis, instead stating that CraveTV would "enhance the value of the subscription television ecosystem" and would be "available to every TV provider in Canada". Former Bell Media president Kevin Crull explained that television content on any streaming service "[would not] exist if you didn't have the traditional TV system. So you really can't sustainably have one without the other." Further, he stated that the service would not "cannibalize" Bell's investment in traditional linear television services. Tying the service to a television service also counters the trend of "cord cutting", in which one drops cable or satellite television in favor of exclusively obtaining television programming over-the-air and through SVOD services.
On launch, the service was only available to subscribers of television service providers owned by Bell Canada (including Bell Satellite TV, Bell Fibe TV, Fibe TV, and Northwestel cable TV), along with Eastlink and Telus. In February 2015, Access Communications, Cable Cable, and Nexicom were added, giving the service wider availability in Saskatchewan and Northern Canada.
On July 13, 2015, Bell announced that CraveTV would transition to an over-the-top service available to all users, regardless of provider, in January 2016. In January 2016, the service when sold through TV providers increased in price from $4 to $6 per-month. On January 14, 2016, CraveTV was launched as an over-the-top service, costing $7.99 per-month.
The service is oriented primarily towards television series, carrying over 10,000 hours of programming on-launch; Bell expects the library to double within a year of the service's launch. Among the programs that are exclusive to CraveTV are programs broadcast by other Bell properties, such as The Big Bang Theory, the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Seinfeld and previously the Star Trek franchise (which later also became available on Netflix). New episodes of Saving Hope will also premiere on CraveTV one day before their premiere on CTV.
The service carries the full catalogue of HBO "off-air" programming (i.e. series no longer in production), such as The Sopranos, Sex and the City, The Wire, and various older HBO-produced television films, documentaries, and stand-up comedy specials. Current HBO programming remains exclusive to HBO Canada, which is owned by Bell Media under license, as a service of The Movie Network.
In July 2016, Bell Media announced that it had acquired rights to current and past Star Trek television series for CraveTV and its cable networks, including the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery (which will be streamed on CBS All Access in the United States).
In February 2015, the Consumers’ Association of Canada and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre filed a complaint with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) against both CraveTV and the competing service Shomi, arguing that their exclusivity primarily to those who are subscribers of their respective owners' television services was a form of tied selling that "[discriminates] against customers who wish to only view programming through an Internet service provider of their choice".
On March 12, 2015, the CRTC announced new proposed regulations for video on demand services, creating a new category for "hybrid online video-on-demand" services between unregulated digital services and licensed video on demand services offered by television providers. Licensed VOD services are not allowed to offer "exclusive" content and are also subject to genre protection and Canadian content rules. Hybrid services would not be bound to the aforementioned rules, including the ability to offer "exclusive" content, and can be made accessible through a provider's set-top box, but they must be also offered over-the-top on a standalone basis without a television subscription.
The CRTC did not explicitly state whether CraveTV or Shomi would be classified as a "hybrid" VOD service under its proposed regulations, which would have required them to offer their service on a standalone basis; a Bell spokesperson argued that CraveTV would not be subject to the requirements because it is a licensed VOD provider, and its content was not "exclusive" because Bell has offered the service for other providers.
- "Bell Media's CraveTV to Go Direct to Consumers in January, 2016" (Press release). Retrieved 13 July 2015.
- "Bell Media's Cravetv launches with low-cost subscription". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
- "Bell Media to Launch New Streaming Service Devoted Exclusively to Exceptional TV". Bell Media. October 30, 2014. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
- "CraveTV 'not cannibalizing' resources away from traditional TV, says Bell Media president". Financial Post. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
- "Bell Media's CraveTV announces four new distributors including in Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories". Financial Post. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- "Bell raising fee for online streaming service CraveTV". The Globe and Mail. December 7, 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
- "CraveTV now available to all Canadians with Internet". London Free Press. Postmedia Network. Canadian Press. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
- "Bell launches Project Latte streaming service with entire HBO catalogue". CBCNews.ca. October 30, 2014. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
- "Bell buys HBO rights across Canada as Corus backs out of pay TV". Canadian Press. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
- "Bell Media strikes deal with Showtime to take on Netflix". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- '19-2' star Jared Keeso to helm original scripted comedy for CraveTV. CTV News, March 5, 2015.
- "New Star Trek series to premiere on CTV, then air on Space and Z". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
- "SHOWTIME Programming To Now Premiere on CraveTV, Beginning November 20 with THE AFFAIR". 24 October 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-25.
- "Consumer groups challenge 'tied selling' of CraveTV, Shomi services" (The Globe and Mail). Retrieved 6 February 2015.
- "CRTC proposes looser regulation if broadcasters offer CraveTV, Shomi to all Canadians". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
- "Let's Talk TV: CRTC announces measures to support the creation of content made by Canadians for Canadian and global audiences". CRTC. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
- "Web streaming service Shomi to shut down as of Nov. 30". CBC News. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
- "CraveTV 'continues to grow' as web streaming service Shomi to shut down, Bell says". CBC News. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-25.
- "CraveTV boosts Bell's bottom line as Shomi pulls the plug". Toronto Star. 3 November 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-25.