December 9, 2019

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Pick your side in the streaming war

How subscription streaming platforms shape up in Canada

However you watch television, you're probably feeling the content crush unlike ever before.

A few months ago, questions about whether we had reached "peak TV" dominated the conversation, but lately the deluge of new programming has reached even higher levels.

In Canada, finding what to watch can be complicated as rights for TV shows and films often belong to different media companies, meaning that what's on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video in the United States isn't necessarily the same north of the border.

Here's a look at the main players in the Canadian marketplace and what each one offers:

DISNEY PLUS

Disney's new streaming platform boasts nearly 500 films and 7,500 episodes of TV shows spanning decades and multiple franchises, including Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and animated classics.

There's also a selection of entertainment it acquired with the recent purchase of 20th Century Fox.

Disney Plus says it hit more than 10 million sign-ups on its first day of launch, far exceeding expectations. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Disney Plus says it hit more than 10 million sign-ups on its first day of launch, far exceeding expectations. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Price: $8.99 per month or $89.99 per year.

Original programs: Out of the gate "The Mandalorian," a TV series addition to the Star Wars universe, and a live-action remake of "Lady and the Tramp." There's also Christmas film "Noelle," starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader.

Various documentaries, reality shows and a "High School Musical" series are already available. Most debut new episodes on a weekly basis.

Other movies and TV series: Titles fresh out of theatres include "Avengers: Endgame" and "Captain Marvel," alongside older titles "Sister Act" and "The Sound of Music." There's also heaps of Disney classics ranging from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" to "Beauty and the Beast."

On the TV front, an extensive selection of Disney animated shows are alongside seasons of "The Simpsons," and a few surprises, including the unearthed late 1970s Marvel series "Spider-Woman."

How it compares to U.S. version: Most Disney titles on the Canadian platform mirror what's available stateside, with some exceptions, especially when it comes to Marvel TV shows.

For example, "X-Men: Evolution," "Wolverine and the X-Men" and "Runaways" are not accessible in Canada. A package deal with ESPN Plus and Hulu is not also not an option here.

Promotions: Seven-day free trial.

 


 

NETFLIX

As a pioneer of streaming and the force behind "binge watching," Netflix has enough content to fill a few lifetimes, including hundreds of original TV series from across the globe and even more films.

Netflix is a pioneer in streaming and the force behind "binge watching." (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

Netflix is a pioneer in streaming and the force behind "binge watching." (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

Price: Starting at $9.99 per month for a basic package, $16.99 for premium with Ultra HD.

Original programs: Too many to count, including cultural behemoths "Stranger Things," "Narcos" and "Queer Eye." Award-winning projects "Roma" and "When They See Us" balance out lighter fare that includes "The Christmas Chronicles" and "The Kissing Booth."

Other movies and TV series: Netflix has a rotating selection of Hollywood movies, international fare and network TV hits, such as "The Office" and "Friends," which are licensed for a period of time before they disappear. Several Disney titles on the service will expire in the coming months.

How it compares to U.S. version: Each country has a different version of Netflix, and the quality and quantity varies.

Canadian Netflix has TV series that aren't available stateside, including new episodes of "Riverdale," but its selection of classic movies is significantly less and while its kids programming is plentiful, it's still more limited.

Promotions: No longer offers a free-trial period in Canada.

 


 

CRAVE

Bell Media's marquee Canadian streaming platform and cable channel, which includes HBO, Showtime, Starz and other brands marketed under several pricing tiers.

Crave is Bell Media's marquee Canadian streaming platform and includes shows by HBO, Showtime, Starz and other brands, THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Crave is Bell Media's marquee Canadian streaming platform and includes shows by HBO, Showtime, Starz and other brands, THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Price: Various price plans. Basic Crave is $9.99 per month or $99.90 per year. An upgrade to new HBO programs is another $9.99 or Starz for $5.99 per month. Deals through Canadian cable operators may vary.

Original programs: Crave doesn't prioritize its originals, mostly leaning on the HBO brand first, but it produces several TV series, including comedy "Letterkenny," and documentaries "Sharkwater Extinction" and "Anthropocene: The Human Epoch."

Other movies and TV series: A list of HBO stuff too plentiful to name, as well as Showtime and Starz content scattered across the various tiers of service. There's also "South Park," "Seinfeld" and "Frasier."

A deal with upcoming streaming U.S. platform HBO Max will give Crave viewers more options on their basic subscription starting next year.

How it compares to U.S. version: There isn't a U.S. version, but considering that Crave houses several U.S. brands under one streaming roof, it's easier and likely cheaper than getting those services in America.

However, some viewers have complained about Crave's sluggish adoption of industry-standard 5.1 surround sound (Crave finally added it in October), frequent glitches with the app, and its lack of availability on popular streaming device Roku.

Promotions: Seven-day free trial.

 


 

AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

Treated as an extension of Amazon's Prime shipping service, the video element houses mostly older films and TV series, though its new collection is expanding by the month.

Amazon Prime mainly offers older films and TV series, though its new and original collection is expanding by the month. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

CP

Amazon Prime mainly offers older films and TV series, though its new and original collection is expanding by the month. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Price: $7.99 per month as part of Amazon Prime.

Original programs: A diverse slate of big-budget action series, including "The Boys," are alongside a slate of critically acclaimed shows, such as "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." Amazon Studios films "The Report," "Suspiria" and "You Were Never Really Here."

Other movies and TV series: Hundreds of titles, among them network shows "Lost," "30 Rock" and "House," and recent films "Vice" and "Hellboy."

How it compares to U.S. version: Much of the content is the same, but many of those U.S. network shows are only Amazon in Canada, and available on other U.S. platforms.

Deals with Canadian film distributors give Amazon the rights to brand new film titles.

Promotions: Included in a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime.

 


 

APPLE TV PLUS

Apple's foray into filmed entertainment comes as a small selection of new and exclusive TV shows and movies.

Apple's foray into filmed entertainment comes as a small selection of new and exclusive TV shows and movies.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Chris Pizzello/Invision

Apple's foray into filmed entertainment comes as a small selection of new and exclusive TV shows and movies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Chris Pizzello/Invision

Price: $5.99 per month.

Original programs: Apple is taking a slow-but-steady approach to its rollout. In early November, it premiered four TV series for adults, among them Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon drama "The Morning Show" and Jason Momoa action series "See."

More will trickle out in the coming weeks, including thriller "Servant," executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan. Most episodes debut weekly. There's also three family-oriented series already on the service, including a new take on "Ghostwriter."

Early films on offer are more indie than blockbuster, among them the documentary "The Elephant Queen."

Other movies and TV series: None, since Apple is only making exclusives.

How it compares to U.S. version: Apple TV Plus rolled out across the world simultaneously, which allows viewers in every region to watch the same programs.

Promotions: Seven-day free trial. A year free to buyers of a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod Touch or Mac.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 12, 2019. Follow @dfriend on Twitter.

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