Why these five well-known online services snub...
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Jan 04, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Why these five well-known online services snub Canada

There are number of popular services in U.S. such as Pandora and HBO GO — but why can't you get them in Canada?

Metroland Media

There may be no better advertising for an online service here than saying “not available in Canada.”

It may be a World Wide Web, but there are still many reasons that companies choose to launch in other countries — or consider our country an afterthought.

Our relatively small population is one obvious reason, but we are one of the web savviest countries in the world with a fairly advanced user base. Some of these services will likely get around to launching in Canada, while others can find ways of making more revenue by staying out.

Here are five high-profile services and why they currently don’t bother with Canada.

Pandora

The company’s service was in Canada for years, before pulling up virtual stakes in 2007 reportedly over difficulty obtaining music rights. Pandora recently bought the assets of Rdio, and one of the things that likely appealed was the fact that it was available in more than 60 countries, which that has fuelled rumours of international expansion for Pandora.

Pandora is currently an Internet radio service, as opposed to a full-fledged music streaming service (which is why it has Adele and Spotify doesn’t), so some analysts believe the company will stick with that approach as opposed to going head-to-head with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. But there are others who feel that this publicly traded company needs to expand its user base, and international expansion and an increased feature set will be necessary as it enters other markets.

HBO GO app

As to whether it will come to Canada, it is somewhat unlikely, as this premium content is now being split up by Canadian rights holders. The Movie Network has access to the series that it airs, while CraveTV has exclusive Canadian rights to the company’s back catalogue. So in some ways, it is already here, although in a piecemeal manner. Until those deals expire, it likely won’t be here as a stand-alone product.

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is already here too, although in Canada, it is only the expedited two-day delivery service for an annual fee of $80.

In the U.S., in addition to the delivery services, customers also get access to Amazon Prime’s streaming service, which has been creating buzzworthy series like the acclaimed Transparent and new The Man in the High Castle adaptation. There is also a music service. In the U.S., Amazon uses these media bundles as enticements for customers to buy Amazon tablets, and as media that keep customers in the company’s ecosystem.

Similar to HBO, the shows being created for Amazon Prime are getting picked up by Canadian streaming services, like Transparent, which is available on Shomi. As long as there are paying customers for those series, it’s is likely not in Amazon’s interest to bring the media services to Canada.

YouTube Red

YouTube has just launched a new paid subscription service that allows people to watch YouTube without the advertisements. It also has a number of other features, like allowing offline video play, playing music in the background on your devices, and even access to Google Play Music for $9.99.

That all seems like a pretty good deal, but it is currently only available in the U.S. and U.K. There actually is a fairly good possibility that this will come to Canada, as YouTube likes to launch in a few territories and build out. A perfect example is YouTube’s Kid apps, which launched in the U.S. in February, but just became available in Canada in November, so there is a chance that they will eventually come here in time.

Hulu

The first great online video experiment from the big U.S. networks has previously eyed International expansion, but other than Japan, this remains a U.S.-only venture.

Jointly owned by Disney, Fox and NBC Universal, there are two big reasons that it’s not available in Canada: our small size and relatively small online advertising market. Once again, several of the series on the service have been sliced and up by various Canadian rights holders, so it is basically impossible to put them all in one online place here, because competing networks here control those rights.

Of interest is the case of The Mindy Project, which was cancelled on FOX but picked up by Hulu for its latest season. Canadian fans were worried, but CityTV chose to continue to broadcast it here.

Toronto Star

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