Review: CraveTV

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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®”

How Bell Media Bumbled the Launch of CraveTV

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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. [Read more...]

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

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This week, Rogers and Shaw teamed up to launch shomi, their attempt to unseat Netflix as Canada’s go-to for streaming television and video entertainment. At launch, Rogers boasts that shomi has more than 12,000 hours of telvision and movie content. And while this TV Addict is inclined to agree with David Purdy (SVP, Product Management Video & Content) who proudly proclaimed that the service “combines binge-worthy television shows and Hollywood hits,” whether or not one should ‘shomi the money’ (See what we did there!), is another question entirely. And quite frankly, one that we’ve been struggling to answer all week. But before we get into the downside of shomi’s launch, let us start with the positive shall we.

As advertised, shomi has done an admirable job of replicating the Netflix experience by offering up a colourful collection of popular television shows and movies available across all devices. By combining catalogues from parent companies Rogers and Shaw, there is quite something for TV Addicts of all ages. What’s more, in an attempt to differentiate themselves from the incumbent, shomi has cleverly hired actual human beings to curate collections such as “Comic Con Hangover,” “The Art of War” and “Gretzky has the Ball” to name a few. Also of note, their “shomi later” and “shomi history” features, the former of which allows viewers to create a playlist of must-sees to watch later with the latter allowing users to see their viewing history and continue watching shows they may have stopped part-way through.

Content wise, shomi has plenty of binge-worthy television shows and a handful of popular movies. And while we’re not going to complain about any service that makes available such TV Addict favorites like THE WEST WING, BUNHEADS, JANE THE VIRGIN, ALIAS, PART DOWN and many more we’d list by name if the service would allow us to log in*, the majority of the shows aren’t exclusive to the service and are also available on Netflix. Which brings me to the first of our two serious issues with shomi.

* Since shomi is technically launching in “beta,” we are going to gloss over the plethora of technical difficulties it seems to have launched with. Including but not limited to… the fact that it hasn’t been able to remember where we stopped watching Notting Hill, a somewhat sluggish interface and a serious unreliability when it comes to logging in and out of the service.

The single biggest issue we have with shomi is that it is completely devoid of original content.** And while the service gets point for launching with plenty of kids content, quality television shows and movies we love (“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy…”), there is no must-see show akin to Netflix’s HOUSE OF CARDS, or Netflix’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK or Netflix… well, you get the idea! Look, if we were one of the increasingly large number of Canadians cutting the cable cord, it would be a different story. But since we still pay for cable (You’re welcome Rogers), subscribe to Netflix and don’t have kids to entertain 24/7 (Sorry Mom!) we simply can’t justify recommending a service that offers very little we don’t already have access to. We also won’t tout a service that is only available to a handful of Canadians, which brings us two issue number two.

** shomi recently announced plans to launch an original Canadian drama to be produces in partnership with Rogers and, curiously enough, rival network Netflix.

WIth shomi’s launch leaving Bell customers out in the cold, I’m once again left with the unsettling feeling that parent companies Rogers and Shaw care more about the bottom line then they do building an amazing product. When will Rogers, Shaw and Bell learn that GREAT companies like Amazon, Apple and Netflix release products that put their customers first while companies more interested in serving shareholders release a product with strings attached***. Suffice it so say, if there is any truth to the saying “you only get one chance to make a good first impresesion” shomi failed spectacularly so. Worse still, launching shomi as an exclusive for Rogers and Shaw customers all but guarantees that when Bell releases their currently-in-delveopment “Project Latte” it will be exclusive to their customers. Thus, continuing the petty and small-minded pattern of Canadian cable conglomeretes doing nothhing but infuritating hard-working and honest customers for choosing one service over the other. But I digress.

*** Strings like tacky upsells upon sign up that offer shomi to Rogers customers free of charge, but only if one agrees to sign up for far pricier tier of internet service.

The bottom line is, that despite the fact that we will not commit to spending $8.99 per month for shomi until they expand their offerings and produce original and compelling content that we can’t see anywhere else, we approve of their service and look forward to checking back with them once they drop the “beta.” If for no other reason than competition is not only good for customers, but something we’re sorely lacking up here in Hollywood North.

For Canadian Eyes Only: shomi Announces New Content Deals with Warner Bros International Television

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Press Release: shomi™ just scored even more incredible content for its customers, inking deals with Warner Bros. International Distribution for both new and library series, as well as big feature films.

In the mood for some snappy one liners served up by the sarcastic waitresses in mustard-coloured uniforms. Check. How about some post-apocalyptic alien action? All over it. shomi has you covered. Starting this November, shomi, Canada’s premier subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, becomes the exclusive streaming home to some of the hottest shows on television including 2 Broke Girls, Two and a Half Men, Shameless, and Falling Skies. shomi also becomes the exclusive Canadian premiere home of the new Rob Thomas series, iZombie. And good news for those lucky fans of the Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals, shomi will have all past seasons and will stream new episodes after its television premiere.

The deal provides shomi users with second window access to timeless fan favourites that are gone, but not forgotten, as well as some fave animated titles for the kidlets, including: [Read more...]

For Canadian Eyes Only: City, Netflix and shomi Collaborate To Bring Viewers BETWEEN,

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Press Release: Today, City, Netflix, and shomi(TM) announced a landmark partnership to bring audiences around the world a new, premium drama series, Between — an original survivalist thriller series, created by award-winning writer/director Michael McGowan (Still Mine, One Week, Saint Ralph) and starring Jennette McCurdy (iCarly, Sam & Cat). The three-way partnership is the first of its kind in Canada for the creation of a new, original series.

The first season of Between, featuring six, one-hour episodes, will premiere on City and shomi in Canada and on Netflix outside of Canada where the service is available. Between will come to Netflix Canada one year following the initial premiere. Additional broadcast details will be announced at a later date. The series begins principal photography today.

“We know that Canadians crave daring and distinctive original programs, and Between offers just that,” said Nataline Rodrigues, Director of Original Programming, Rogers. “Showcasing Michael McGowan’s cinematic vision on the small screen, this compelling new series, in partnership with Netflix and shomi, delivers on our promise to offer viewers world-class entertainment.”

“Teaming up with Rogers, on Between, is a tremendous opportunity to work with a creative partner in Canada to bring our global viewers top-notch content,” said Erik Barmack, Vice President of Global Independent Content at Netflix. “We’re thrilled to be working with outstanding talent behind the scenes including Canadians Don Carmody, Jon Cassar and Michael McGowan, and in front of the camera with a new generation of actors led by Jennette McCurdy, delivering a must watch event series that millions of Netflix viewers will enjoy.”

Between is the story of a town under siege from a mysterious disease that has wiped out everybody except those 21 years old and under. The series explores the power vacuum that results when a government has quarantined a 10-mile diameter area and left the inhabitants to fend for themselves.

“With the commission of Between, we are reinforcing our commitment to bring the best programming to our subscribers,” said Marni Shulman, Head of Content & Programming, shomi. “Great opportunities to build original content like this, and working with the breadth of talent, including the amazing Michael McGowan, is a perfect fit for the shomi brand.”

“Speaking on behalf of DCTV, Mulmur Feed Co. and Elevation Pictures Corp., we are very excited to be announcing our first series production deal which is doubly historic as a Canadian first between Netflix and Rogers,” said Executive Producer Don Carmody. “We have assembled an outstanding team led by Michael McGowan, as show runner who has given us a bold and riveting narrative; director John Cassar, who will bring this thriller to life; and starring the beautiful and talented Jennette McCurdy. Between is backed by three of the best content behemoths in the business.”

Between stars Jennette McCurdy and was created by Michael McGowan, who executive produces along with Don Carmody (Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Goon, Chicago), David Cormican (The Tall Man, Faces in the Crowd), and Naveen Prasad, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Elevation Pictures Corp. Emmy(R) award-winning director Jon Cassar (24, The Kennedys) will direct the first two episodes. The series is produced by Don Carmody Television, Mulmur Feed Co. and in association with Elevation Pictures Corp. Prasad, along with Jayme Alter (Denton’s Canada) for DCTV negotiated the deal. Elevation will oversee worldwide distribution. From Rogers Media, Nataline Rodrigues is Director of Original Programming, Hayden Mindell is Vice President of Television Programming & Content, and Navaid Mansuri is Interim Vice President of Broadcast.

For Canadian Eyes Only: Why the CRTC Has No Business Regulating Netflix Canada

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In response to a slew of recent stories that have surfaced over the past couple of months questioning whether Netflix Canada should be regulated by the Canadian Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in the same manner in which over-the-air broadcasters such as Bell Media, CBC, Rogers and Shaw are, this TV Addict wanted to get something of his chest. [Read more...]

Photo of the Day: What Do You Get When You Combine the Producers of ORPHAN BLACK and the Creator of LOST GIRL?

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With television talent both in front and behind the camera making a habit of tweeting photos ranging from spoilerific to hilarious, theTVaddict.com thought it might be fun to introduce a new feature to the site that we’ve not-so-cleverly decided to call “Photo of the Day.” Today’s subject, courtesy of Canada’s Space Network comes a first look at the easy-on-the-eyes cast of the new original series KILLJOYS! Said Space, “From the producers of Space original series ORPHAN BLACK (Temple Street Productions) and the creator of LOST GIRL (Michelle Lovretta), KILLJOYS follows a trio of interplanetary bounty hunters (John-Kamen, Ashmore, and Macfarlane) – or “Killjoys” – as they chase deadly warrants throughout the Quad, a distant planetary system on the brink of a bloody, class war. KILLJOYS is set to premiere in 2015 on Space and Syfy.”

Breaking TV News: Rogers and Shaw Team Up to Launch Canadian Netflix Killer “shomi”

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Press Release: shomi, a new subscription video-on-demand service, ups the ante in entertainment with the latest, most exclusive shows and selections personalized for you. Available initially on tablet, mobile, online, Xbox 360 and set top boxes, shomi will launch in beta first to Rogers and Shaw Internet or TV customers. shomi will be available starting the first week of November at a suggested retail price of $8.99 per month.

shomi was created for entertainment lovers by entertainment lovers. It features prior seasons of the most popular shows on TV today, iconic series from the past, cult-classic and fan-favourite films, as well as a library of family-friendly kids programming. With exclusive past-season streaming rights to titles – such as Modern Family, Sons of Anarchy, Sleepy Hollow, Shameless, 2 Broke Girls, Vikings, New Girl, 24: Live Another Day, Chicago Fire, The Strain, and American Horror Story – along with first-window premieres, it’s more bang, less blah. shomi combines a team of programming experts with algorithmic technology to help you pick what you actually want to watch – whether it’s finding hidden gems, rediscovering old favourites, or remembering why you fell in love with a title in the first place. [Read more...]

Giveaway: A One-of-a-Kind OUTLANDER Swag Bag!

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In anticipation of the Sunday August 24th premiere of OUTLANDER on Showcase (in Canada), your very own TV Addict was fortunate enough to be invited to an exclusive screening of the series premiere in Toronto. Cooler still: After being wined, dined and photographed with a trifecta of sexy Scotsman (Editor’s Note: Had we known their would be paparazzi on hand we most certainly wouldn’t have left our kilt at home!), Showcase was kind enough to leave us with a delightful parting gift… which could be yours! Simply follow us on Instagram @thetvaddict before OUTLANDER’s Sunday August 24th premiere and you’ll be automatically entered to win this fantastic swag bag! May the odds be ever in your favor

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