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

UPDATE: ‘Spontaneous combustion’ likely cause of fire at mushroom composting facility on Lougheed Highway

First responders were at the blaze near the Skawahlook First Nation Tuesday

Approval for AirBnB-style rentals in Kent delayed after public hearing

Staff will be taking the bylaw amendments back for a closer look before final adoption

Kent Harrison Emergency Support team honoured for work during 2017 wildfire season

The volunteer group was activated for 254 days in a row to help evacuees

Trial dates set for three men accused of 2017 killing near Hope

Lawyers for the accused appeared in Kelowna at B.C. Supreme Court on Monday

Wildfire threatens weekend campers at Chehalis Lake

The fire started on the north side of Chehalis Lake Saturday

VIDEO: Reading splashes into Agassiz’s Ferny Coombe Pool

The Agassiz Library held its annual Reading in the Pool event Friday, June 14

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Plane veers off runway, into ditch at Langley Airport

Fire, ambulance, and police are on scene

Okanagan RCMP bike patrol rolls up on alleged stolen vehicle from Burnaby

The driver, a 30-year-old Kelowna man, has been held in custody and is facing possible charges of possession of stolen property and obstructing a police officer

Most Read