Amazon says it’s finalizing plans to make Prime Video Channels available in Canada for the first time. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Amazon vies for a larger share of viewers with ‘channels’ service akin to cable in Canada

Amazon says it’s finalizing plans to make Prime Video Channels available in Canada for the first time

Canadian television viewers will soon have another streaming option that looks very similar to a cable package.

Amazon says it’s finalizing plans to make Prime Video Channels available in Canada for the first time, giving its Prime Video subscribers (who pay $7.99 per month) the option to purchase from a selection of 13 channels of live and on-demand programming. The launch date still hasn’t been confirmed, though the company said it will be “soon.”

It marks the first time cord cutters who have ditched traditional cable and satellite companies will have access to several popular channels, including kids’ broadcaster Nickelodeon, and multi-channel movie packages Super Channel and Hollywood Suite.

There’s also StackTV, a juiced-up selection of TV channels that’s almost like a mini cable package in itself. For that bundle, subscribers will pay $12.99 per month for access to live and on-demand programs from a roster of 12 networks, including Adult Swim, Food Network, Global, Slice and Showcase, all owned by Corus Entertainment.

A selection of existing streaming platforms round out the current lineup, including horror outlet Shudder, indie movie hub Sundance Now, reality TV chest Hayu and LGBTQ-centric OutTV, which can all be added to Amazon for a range of $3.99 to 6.99 per month for each channel.

Starz, a new channel offering launched by Bell Media that’s also available on the Crave streaming platform, is $5.99 per month.

The concept behind Prime Video Channels isn’t much different than an “a la carte” cable bundle, and the company is pitching it as a way to centralize billing and passwords for the TV services you love through one provider. But the selection will be notably sparse when it launches — there’s no partnership with its major competitor Netflix, nor one with Crave, HBO Canada or Showtime.

Also missing from the lineup are sports and news channels.

Some broadcasters are sitting out the launch entirely, including CBC, Bell Media’s CTV and TSN, as well as Rogers-owned channels, which include Citytv and the OMNI multicultural stations.

Greg Hart, vice president of Amazon Prime Video, said he’s hopeful that voids in the offering will be filled over time.

“We’d love to have sports available… and we look forward to adding that,” he said in a phone interview.

“Sometimes those are a little more complicated to bring off.”

He pointed out that the U.S. version of Prime Video Channels launched with about 25 channels before growing to a slate of more than 150, which include both traditional live feeds and streaming platforms.

ALSO READ: Netflix and chill no more: Streaming is getting complicated

But the hurdles in Canada could prove more significant.

Canadian broadcasters have spent years griping to the federal regulator about the increasing dominance of U.S. streaming giants, including the threat of Amazon’s colossal presence.

In 2016, Mary Ann Turcke, who was Bell Media’s president at the time, expressed concerns over Amazon’s pending arrival as a streaming business. She said it would be more difficult for Canadian companies to acquire rights for the popular titles needed to satisfy subscribers if a giant like Amazon was in the bidding wars.

Last November, the broadcasters ratcheted up their sentiment, telling Ottawa that Prime Video Channels poses “an existential threat to the regulatory system.”

Helene Laurendeau, deputy minister of Canadian Heritage, said in a memo to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that virtual TV service providers “particularly Amazon Channels, (are) going to be even more disruptive to the Canadian broadcasting system than foreign streaming services.”

She said Prime Video Channels would effectively make “moot” the concept of “skinny basic” and “pick and pay” packages from TV service providers, and force any potential Canadian competitors with similar virtual TV services out of business.

Hart rejected suggestions that Prime Video Channels would be a threat to Canadian TV channels.

“My point of view is it’s actually a great way for broadcasters to distribute their content,” he said.

“It offers another outlet.”

David Friend, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Author sets her sights on tourism market

Eleanor Deckert promotes reading wholesome

Celebrating advancements in adventure tourism

Mike Wiegele receives doctor of laws degree from TRU

USW shows generosity despite tough times

Canfor employees present cheque for $500 to Clearwater Secondary School’s sports teams

UPDATE: Three wildfires discovered in Clearwater area

All new fires suspected to have been caused by lightning

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

B.C. Interior First Nation family ‘heartbroken’ over loss of young mom

RCMP have released no new information since the June 8, 2019 homicide

Most Read