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 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.
First and foremost. As a long time Rogers customer, myself — not to mention millions of others across the country — 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.
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 cable packages. Packages, which after a quick scan online appear to range between $39.99 and $111.95 per month.
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!