After months of hype teasing the imminent arrival of “Project Latte,” a new streaming service that promised television Addicts such as ourselves with an amazing catalogue of new and old shows, yesterday saw Bell Media unwrap the details of their answer to Netflix named CraveTV.
And while Bell Media bigwigs spent much of yesterday patting themselves on the back for offering Canadians what Mike Cosentino (Senior VP, Programming, Bell Media) characterized as, “an incredible offering of some of TV’s most-watched and most-loved shows,” our reaction is somewhat less that effusive. But before we get into the massively missed opportunity by Bell Media to… I don’t know… put Canadians customers first and actually acknowledge that the ways in which our country consumes media has changed since 1975, let’s start with the good.
Priced at $4.00 a month, it’s hard to argue with any streaming service that will give certain subscribers (more on that later) instant access to an insanely amazing catalogue of televisions favourites including but not limited to THE SOPRANOS, SEX AND THE CITY, THE WIRE, SEINFELD, FRASIER, ARROW, ORPHAN BLACK, DOCTOR WHO, HOMELAND, PERSON OF INTEREST, DEGRASSI, and many more.
What’s not so good is that the advertised $4.00 a month is nothing short of a bald faced lie because the service is only available to paid subscribers of Bell, Telus, Bell Aliant and Eastlink increasingly costly cable services. And don’t even get me started on the fact that Rogers and Shaw customers are being punished for not paying
the piper Ma Bell! But I digress…
What irks me more is that Bell Media had a real opportunity to change the television landscape and act as a real leader in the space. Bell Media could have looked at Netflix’s “customer first” model that is stealing customers from them left and right by offering a wonderful mix of original and catalogue programming at an affordable price. Bell Media could have recognized that an entire generation of Canadians are no longer looking to pay a hefty monthly cable bill on top of their equally hefty mobile and internet ones. Bell Media could have done the math and realized that if they offer an amazing service at an affordable price, they’ll not only make piles of money as a result of their onerous and punitive bandwidth caps, but also cash in when they invariably raise the price of CraveTV over the course of the next few years (again, see our mobile and internet bills!). Instead, Bell Media did what is par for the course when it comes to Canadian (and let’s face it, most American media conglomerates): They attempted to squeeze every last penny out of a dying industry that is on its last legs.
Thanks for nothing CRTC.