Bell Media’s new Cravetv subscription video streaming service will cost $4 a month and launch a week Thursday, the company announced Wednesday.
Called Cravetv — previously code-named Project Latte — the new service launches Dec. 11. Unlike Netflix, Cravetv will require users to have a cable subscription. Beyond Bell, Telus and Eastlink will provide the service.
The service features many classic series including Seinfeld, Cheers as well as HBO's older catalogue of off-air series. It will also carry previous seasons of current hits, including The Big Bang Theory and Arrow as well as some Canadian exclusives, including period drama Manhattan, crime series Bosch and Deadbeat, which stars Canadian Tyler Labine.
The service will launch with more than 320 series and more than 10,000 hours of content. Bell Media executives promise that the catalogue will double in the first year, with new content added on Friday.
Bell Media also plans to give Canadian-made series a 24-hour preview look on Cravetv before their broadcast. Saving Hope, Motive and Spun Out are three shows that will have that online first look at launch.
Kevin Crull, president of Bell Media, called it a complementary service to their other cable products and described Cravetv as “something that is going to be key to everything we do going forward.”
Cravetv joins Shomi as another Canadian-made alternative to Netflix, the successful stand-alone TV service. However, while Netflix has helped spur many to cut the cable cord, Shomi and Cravetv are tied to their respective cable companies. Rogers/Shaw's Shomi will be available to all Canadians once it is out of beta.
Cravetv’s low price is a differentiator, although being tied to a cable provider makes it is more of an add-on than a Netflix competitor. The strategic play is that if the customers start using it, the Internet service provider could benefit for added online use.
Streaming only seems to be growing. Ratings agency Neilsen just released saying that live TV viewership in the U.S. fell 12 minutes in the third quarter, a drop of four per cent to 141 hours per month. Time spent watching streaming services grew by 60 per cent to nearly 11 hours a month.