CraveTV Review

cravetv

If you’re wondering why it has taken this TV Addict slightly longer than expected to post our review of CraveTV, Bell Media’s Netflix competitor that launched earlier this month, look no further than the service itself.

Billed as “a video streaming service offering full seasons and series of the most loved and celebrated shows ever,” CraveTV is — simply put — a TV Addict’s dream. No really. Any grammar, spelling and/or syntax errors from here on in should be solely attributed to the fact that even as we type this, we’re half-watching INSIDE AMY SCHUMER in a little window at the top left of our desktop! That’s how good CraveTV is, we cannot stop watching it. It’s a problem, a big one. But before we get into why, let’s start off with the glowingly positive shall we.

CraveTV isn’t messing around when it comes to selection. From genre-defining series that we’re embarrassed to admit we still haven’t found the time to watch (See: HBO classics such as THE SOPRANOS, THE WIRE and DEADWOOD) and half-hour sketch shows we’ve only seen bits and pieces of on YouTube (See: KEY AND PEELE, INSIDE AMY SCHUMER and KROLL SHOW) to exclusives that we’ve already started binge-watching (Hello WGN’s MANHATTAN) and classics that we can’t get enough of (See: MONTY PYTHON, SEINFELD, and FRASIER), CraveTV isn’t messing around when it comes to feeding our seemingly insatiable appetite for all things television. Suffice it to say, if you are eligible to subscribe to CraveTV — particularly at the launch price of $4 per month — it’s an absolute no brainer. No really. There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t stop what you’re doing right now, call your local cable provider and spend this holiday season holed up in your living room watching the glory that is STAR TREK’s most underrated and under-appreciated gem DEEP SPACE NINE!

Oh wait there is a reason… which brings me to that dark side of the service that I teased earlier in this post.

Related: “How Bell Media Bumbled the Launch of CraveTV”

First and foremost. As a long time Rogers customer, myself — not to mention millions of others across Canada — are shut out from this service due to the unholy war between Bell Media and Rogers that does little but infuriate customers on both sides (See: Rogers equally childish treatment of NHL fans who aren’t paying a pretty penny to Rogers each and every month). But even more troubling than Bell Media’s exclusionary policies* is that CraveTV’s new business model effectively sidesteps any regulatory issues put in place by the astoundingly ineffective CRTC in terms of their recent purchase of Astral Media. Which is to say. non-Bell subscribers to HBO Canada should all but assume that any new and exciting content will no longer be built around the traditional over-the-air model that many of us have been subscribing to for all these years but rather reserved for CraveTV’s catalogue. Case in point, Bell Media’s recent announcement** that will see a remastered, 16×9, full-frame, high definition version of THE WIRE be exclusively released to CraveTV subscribers this January rather than where it belongs on HBO Canada.

shomi Review: Why We’re Not Buying What Rogers and Shaw are Selling (At Least Not Yet!)

And finally, any review of CraveTV wouldn’t be complete without the mention of their advertising strategy. You know those posters and billboards that have been plastered across the city? Well, they’re sort of missing a giant asterisk when it comes to that $4 per month price tag. Just to be clear: CraveTV is only $4 per month if you already subscribe to Bell or one of their partner’s cable packages. Packages, which after a quick scan online appear to range between $39.99 and $111.95 per month. (Current cable partners include: TELUS Optik TV, Bell Fibe TV, and Bell Aliant FibreOP TV subscribers)

All that being said, if you are one of the shrinking number of Canadians who, like us, fork over one hundred plus dollars a month to prop up an antiquated cable model, CraveTV is completely worth it. One can only hope that (a) Bell Media sees the error of their ways and opens up this package to all of Canada as soon as possible. Or at the very least, (b), allows me to a finish binge-watching the fantastic first season of MANHATTAN before they pull my media credentials in response to this review!

* Correction from Scott Henderson, Vice-President Communications Bell Media: We have no exclusionary policy. We have been very clear from the beginning that CraveTV is “available to every TV provider in Canada” (see release) and Kevin Crull has been clear he wants to get it into as many hands as possible. We have had meetings with all distributors, including Rogers, and we hope they come on board soon. Already Telus, Eastlink and other small cable providers have signed up and made the product available to their providers.

The TV Addict’s Response: While it’s all well and good that Bell Media doesn’t have an official exclusionary policy, I’ll believe it when I see it. Case in point, I’ve been waiting over a year, possibly two for CTV to meet with Rogers and allow me access to streaming content on CTV.ca and CTV’s mobile apps. (Photo Below)

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** Correction from Scott Henderson, Vice-President Communications Bell Media: We also announced in this fall a deal for the entire HBO back catalogue for CraveTV (see release). This is separate than current HBO programming. All back catalogue programming will be available on CraveTV, including the Sopranos, Sex and the City and, as you note, The Wire. HBO Canada features current programming – so The Wire won’t air on HBO Canada. But to be clear, this is the same situation as in the U.S. – To our understanding The Wire will not be broadcast on HBO there.

The TV Addict’s Response: According to an official HBO (US) Press Release, the new high-definition re-mastering of THE WIRE will be available to all HBO subscribers across the US on HBO GO, as well over the air. From the release, “Now, new and old fans of the series can watch the show like never before thanks to a brand new High-Definition upgrade of all 60 episodes, which will debut in December on HBO Signature® and HBO GO®”

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  • Diana

    Not sure if it changes your opinion but CraveTV is free to Bell customers that subscribe to the TMN package. A nice perk to existing customers!

  • It doesn’t! I mean it’s a nice perk for Bell customers, but what about those who subscribe to TMN on Rogers or Shaw? My issue isn’t so much as CraveTV as a service, as a service it’s great. My problem is that as a TMN subscriber with Rogers, I get treated worse because Bell owns TMN. It’s unfair! More infuriating still is that I PAY FOR TMN/HBO. Both Rogers and Bell and Shaw and Telus and all cable companies for that matter should be rewarding the shrinking number of Canadians who believe in paying for content. Instead we’re punished!

  • Jason

    Telus Optik customers have to access Crave through Telus’ crappy On Demand format, and the amount of different series available to watch upon signing up was exactly 31. Plenty of those when clicked on showed 0 seasons, 0 episodes. They say they’re adding things daily until it’s current with the website, but they don’t have even a rough date when it’ll be complete. Very disappointed – a lot of false advertising.

  • Suenos

    Using Netflix before moving back to Canada, I have to say that this model is so behind the times. I was excited about the content offered by Crave and the price seemed right so I planned to sign up, but when I found it was tied to cable subscription to bell and then I couldn’t just create an account on my ipad without calling someone, I thought forget it! I just get this content on iTunes without the hassle. Bell, there is a whole generation of us that just use television as a big screen. I don’t want cable or any subscription that is tied to it, just give me content that is digitally accessible and I will pay for it not a webpage that requires me to call and work out some old fashioned bell subscription! Forget it.

  • Recently.Reaped

    No talk about the interface??? It’s beyond terrible. Netflix has that aspect down pretty well and it’s seems downright brilliant when comparing it to Crave. No ability to have favorites so show are easy to find and access, no ‘last show watched’ so you can easily pick up in a series. No with Crave you have to navigate all the way back to where you left off and recall the last episode watched and start there. It’s a cheap and lazy layout IMO. And this is just from playing around with it at a friends house. I don’t think I’ll be dropping my Netflix in favor or Crave any time soon.

  • pam burns

    Great explanation. I am also sticking with netflix

  • Lexy

    Can you please add season 6,7&8 of weeds

  • rp

    A Slinky offers more entertainment than 90% of Crave Library

  • Tony Johnson

    just today I went to cravetv site and um first part loaded no problem, but the bottom half spun in circles for quite awhile !! so I shut it down and wont be back. I have a fast internet connection with ultra high speed so that wasn’t the problem. its craves problem and for a company that wants new business, no thanks lol. if ya cant get ur page to work proper, u should just quit !!

  • Claude Couture

    It still is down at the time of this comment. No explanation. If their server is overloaded, then -5stars to them. Will cancel my trial subscription asap. Poor planning.

  • Josh

    It consistently has to buffer. After one show it always says multiple users are online and have to wait 5 minutes before you can watch another show. Worst streaming service ever !!
    This is coming from someone who has all streaming services.

  • David Hughes

    I have CraveTV but find the quality very substandard. Some videos have random Japanese subtitles just appear out of nowhere, video scale cuts off the edges, poor signal quality drops resolution, claims of multiple devices in use when only one is in use.

    All those comparisons are made on the same TV same network where I have Netflix and YouTube on a Smart TV I use at virtually the same time. CraveTV fails with errors yet Netflix and Youtube both smoothly hum along at 4k.

  • Wendy Murray

    I’m hoping like hell that the show “Lost” will come to cravetv, but I’m guessing it probably won’t 🙁 . It sure doesn’t take long to watch several seasons of something…so I discovered. haha! It only took me a few days to watch all of “true blood”. A few days to watch all of “Grimm”. Anyway…I want to see “Lost” on there now.

  • Wendy Murray

    I hear ya there Addict. I think we should be rewarded with what we want as channel packages. I’ve blocked out about 300+ channels on my tv that are completely useless to me, yet I have to pay for them in order to get specific networks. What I pay monthly for my tv is almost not worth having a tv, but I have to because I’m almost completely deaf and I need the CC on. Sucks but hey…at least they have cc on the tv. CC doesn’t work well with online shows at all, so I discovered 🙁