CraveTV gets 4 new distributors in Canada, but can it thrive against Netflix?

Recent research from NPD Group has suggested that SVoD customers use more TV services than non-subscribers; a theory that says subscription services could actually help, rather than hurt pay-TV operators.

If so, Canadian operators Access Communications, Cable Cable, Nexicom, and Northwestel likely are banking on a boost after the four signed on to carry Bell Media’s CraveTV service this month.

CraveTV, a $4 a month all-you-can-watch SVoD service that has been positioned more as a supplement to Netflix and other SVoD services than as a “Netflix killer” launched in Canada in December. Unlike Shaw Communications’ Shomi, a stand-alone SVoD service that’s available to non-subscribers as well as subscribers, CraveTV is available only to pay-TV subscribers. Bell Media is pretty forthright about its expectations for CraveTV, which it describes as a service “designed to complement the traditional television ecosystem.” CraveTV is available through STBs, mobile apps, the web, game consoles, and smart TVs. 

“We are pleased to bring these four great companies on board, which furthers our strategy of making CraveTV available to as many people as possible on as many platforms as possible,” said Kevin Crull, President, Bell Media. “We continue to talk to all TV providers, and look forward to announcing additional partners in the coming months.”

Access Communications is a 100% Saskatchewan-owned non-profit co-op that provides communications and entertainment services to 220 communities. Cable Cable supplies television, Internet, and home phone services to the City of Kawartha Lakes, Ont. and surrounding areas. Nexicom is a local and family-owned telecommunications company that provides service to county of Peterborough, Ont. and surrounding communities. Northwestel is a telecommunications company serving residential and business customers in the Northwest Territories.

Last week, Telus said it had signed a deal to make Netflix available on its Optik TV service, a nod to the popularity the service has attained in Canada, which was Netflix’s first international market.

Can CraveTV halt the success Netflix has had in Canada? It’s doubtful, it just doesn’t have the content muscle and it’s tied to having an existing pay-TV subscription. But, it can potentially blunt the tip of the spear a bit.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn