Video Streaming In Canada

Netflix’s Biggest Competitor in Canada goes into chapter 11: Video Streaming in Canada has seen it’s fair share of competition in the past few years.  Way back in 2016 we have witnessed the market being overtaken by the streaming heavyweights, Netflix. In a short lived video-streaming battle with Shomi, which was initially a great contender, Netflix emerged as the ultimate winner.

Shomi Closed its virtual doors in November of that year due to what seemed to have been some complication between the founding partnership of Rogers and Shaw, as the Industry news site has chronicled.

Hulu on the other hand has not set its sights on Canada yet and their original series have and will most probably never be aired here.  With Shomi leaving the scene, series like FX’s The Americans and Mr. Robot will probably never be available to stream again.

In the meantime, the major players still remain Bell TV and Netflix, both owned by Bell Media.  Viewers hoped there would be a burst in competition when Amazon Prime hit the scene but that seems to have left a lot to be desired and did not even stick around for that long.  


Netflix was there first.

With the California based streaming service having beat everyone to it, it’s really hard to come second and win especially since they already hold a big chunk of the market. Since it’s entry into the market, Netflix has garnered over a million subscribers,  so as one would assume it has become quite difficult for any other contender to compete with the video streaming giant.


Research and development:

It’s also more than twice as hard to compete when Netflix is investing upwards of $300 million (U.S.) yearly on Research and Development. It’s common knowledge that the streaming behemoth disburses of a great deal of resources in order to develop algorithms that can predict and analyse viewers’ behavior in order to determine what’s best to show and when.

The lesser competitors like Shomi, have had to, on the other hand resort to paying a handful of employees to determine what’s best to show and try to come up with the best decisions.  And as many of us know so well, the human touch often loses when rivalled with a computer algorithm.

To add insult to injury, you can now watch Netflix on pretty much every device imaginable, something that the competition has taken way too long to adopt if they did at all.


Content is King

Shomi’s failure can also be attributed to the fact that their proposition consisted of what seemed to include mainly show reruns.  Although Netflix started out in similar fashion with streaming, it has since evolved into adding more content and as time went by it has also evolved into original programs and movie commissions.

With all these developments viewers who used to join for old seasons of The Office and 24 now come for Orange is the New Black, Narcos, Lucifer, and may also stick around for Homeland and stranger things. Given that a lot of content can be had online, sometimes even for free by the so-called cord-cutters, or even in other, more traditional ways, progress in this case is the deal breaker.


Netflix not a necessity

There’s some truth in the fact that most Canadians who are subscribed to Netflix, or were simply attracted to it, did so for the simple reason that it isn’t a service offered by the usual cable TV suppliers like Rogers and Bell.
The Canadian customer interested most in streaming services is more often than not the same one who’s trying to get away from the compulsory cable service providers. Shomi as an example has always been a tough sell to this type of customer.

The fact that Netflix has also been a loud vocal supporter of net neutrality and also against internet usage caps, could also be a major fact in its early adoption by such a wide audience.  As an added bonus, Netflix also had a substantial reputation and worked hard in achieving substantial brand recognition way before starting to operate in Canada.

There was certainly always room in Canada for more than one streaming service, but it’s been rather obvious that not just anyone would succeed right off the bat.  Having said that though, Amazon Prime video and Crave TV have also made good for themselves since their entrance into our streaming ecosystem.

Price Increase as of 2019.

Yes you read right Netflix prices are set to increase by $1-$3 depending on your plan.  As of February 2019 a monthly basic subscription will set you back a good $9.99, a dollar more than previous years. The price increase for Netflix Canada users was first confirmed by CBC at the end of 2018.  Netflix also divulged some information about the price hikes with Narcity, including when prices will increase, by how much, and also which packages are going to be affected.

Disney cuts ties with Netflix.

That’s right kids. If you want to watch Frozen on Netflix, soon you won’t be able to.  Disney will cut the cord so that it moves on with its plans to open its own streaming service as of 2019.  The News was made public via a PR Statement by the media giant and was made possible due to a recent acquisition of a major stake in the streaming video section founded by Major League Baseball, BAMTech.  Disney initially acquired a 33% stake for a cool billion in 2016, later topping that up by another 1.5 billion to acquire an added 75% of BAMtech.  The new content will stop being shared with Netflix and will be now accessible via an Enhanced version of the ESPN app, Disney said. The streaming services for both Disney and ESPN will be available for purchase directly from either the Disney and ESPN websites, in app stores, and also from authorized service providers.  So there you have it. If you really wanted to watch Frozen 2, toy story 4 or the live action Lion King, you’re going to have to swap your streaming partner as reported by CNBC.


Goodbye CraveTV:

When CraveTV launched in 2014,  it was offered exclusively as an addon to a normal TV subscription mainly through sister company Bell TV. It’s quite relevant to note that most of the factors that brought Shomi down also apply to CraveTV’s dwindling in favor.  Bell’s service suffered from some of the same resource shortcomings and disadvantages, so it should surprise no one that it followed a similar fate.  It’s also worth mentioning that Bell never wanted to make CraveTV available to all new subscribers and was only opened to all internet users after Rogers and Shaw did so with Shomi.  Bell’s uncoupling of CraveTV from cable subscriptions could also have had more to do with recent CRTC regulations even though Rogers and Shaw said they intended to open Shomi to the public way before regulation forced them to.  Bell subsequently mentioned that for them a TV subscription would always be necessary to access Crave TV.

With Shomi now gone and the need for competition lessened the situation has been revisited as was expected. Crave TV has since been repackaged and called Crave and is offered as part of the HBO package, meaning that it includes all the HBO produced TV series as a standard package.


Netflix ISP rankings

Netflix releases an internet service provider speed rankings (ISP rankings) index and it has just released one for March. These metrics provide an insight to the speeds these providers are supplying to those using the online streaming service anywhere in the world.  The regular rankings issued every month measure the quality of the streaming service for netflix on a number of ISPs in 26 plus countries.

There are no major changes from previous months as Canada is still ranked 5th on the list with the US, Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil respectively preceding it in terms of average speed.  According to the Stats Telus has the highest speed with its fiber optic service ranking at 4.21 Mbps. A useful metric if Netflix is your sole use of the internet.  Rather embarrassing for Canada to be outdone by Bolivia and Brazil, countries where barely half of the population is online.

The good news for Canada is that Rogers has improved its speeds greatly when compared to previous years, when it ranked from the middle of the pack all the way to the bottom. The other good news is that Telus, which seemed to always be the Aunt Sally of providers has now regularised its position and is regularly beating everyone else out of the water with it’s Fiber optic service consistently ranking on top of the list in terms of ISP speed. Netflix’s ISP rankings paint a clearer picture in light of the fact that the older DSL technology is becoming rather obsolete.

Over in America the Federal Communications Committee has been looking into raising the minimum qualifying broadband speed to 10 megabits from 4 megabits.  Ajit Varadaraj Pai, the new Chairman of the communications committee has also been seen to favour less regulation and has also stated the by reforming the way the commission works, the agency can assist in the provision of novel and better services at a lower price range for the general American consumer.