Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bell unveiled its debut in the content streaming

English: SVG version of the new Bell Canada lo...
English: SVG version of the new Bell Canada logo as of 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bell unveiled its debut in the content streaming race on Wednesday with CraveTV, which the media conglomerate says isn't meant to replace cable television, but rather add to it.
Starting Dec. 11, CraveTV will be available to anyone who's currently a TV customer of Eastlink, TELUS Optik TV, Bell Fibe TV, Bell Aliant FibreOP TV and Bell Satellite TV at launch, with Northwestel and others coming on board later.
The service will cost $4 per month, on top of your cable bill. The service will be available immediately to cable TV subscribers via set-top box, but the company says they plan on rolling out new ways to watch, including mobile apps, access via video game console, and through select so-called "smart TVs" that can access the internet directly.
Executives at a launch event in Toronto were coy on the timing, but said they expect the service to be available to Rogers and Shaw television customers soon.
"We think this is a service their customers are going to be clamouring for," Bell Media president Kevin Crull said.
It will not, however, be available to anyone with just a high-speed Internet connection, meaning it's not an obvious alternative to so-called cord cutters who have left cable behind in favour of online-based content services.
That also likely means it's not a true rival to Netflix, the U.S.-based streaming service that has gobbled up customers in Canada by offering thousands of hours of TV shows and movies for a monthly fee of $9. Netflix is available to anyone with an internet connection; there's no need to pay for any sort of television service.
A few months ago, Rogers and Shaw teamed up to create Shomi, a streaming service that offers thousands of hours of programming in much the way Netflix does. The catch with Shomi was that you must be a Rogers or Shaw customer to get it — but you could do it just with an internet connection, making it a little closer to the Netflix model.
At least in the early going, Bell is clearly going in a different direction with its streaming service.
"Ninety per cent of Canadians have a TV subscription," Crull said at Wednesday's Bell launch. "We think that gives us a fantastic base of customers to subscribe to," he said, noting that more Canadians pay for some sort of television service than pay for an Internet connection.
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