The State of WebTV in Canada, Part II: In the Trenches

Newcomers take aim at the incumbents
I've always been a huge enthusiast for WebTV: television programming that can be watched/streamed on demand through the internet. I haven't had cable TV for more than 2 years. I know some of you are saying wow while the rest are saying that you have never had cable or that you never watch TV; you my friends have already won. For everyone else in Canada there is a different reality.

If you never watch TV and you are still reading this post I salute you! I've spoken previously about the big three network holders in Canada: Rogers, Bell and Telus affectionately known at Rogebellus by some. Others add regional players Shaw (West) and Quebecor (East). This is the reality. It is not a problem. These organizations exist the way they do partly because as Canadians we built them to and we need them to or think we do.

Web television in Canada has come of age although it suffers from major flaws. Each of the Cartel members has associated content networks and broadcast channels, but they don't share; for the most part they covet and hold onto control to their detriment.
Telecommunications company Telus Corp. is urging the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission not to allow its competitors to horde the content for the exclusive use of their subscribers. The company is the only one of the major telecommunications companies that does not hold television networks as part of its assets. This year, Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. bought the television network CTV, while last year, Shaw Communications Inc. purchased the television and specialty channel division of Canwest Global Communications Corp. -4.28.11 Source.
The federal broadcast regulator moved to block telecommunications companies from locking up their video content for their own wireless subscribers. -3.7.11 Source.
This is the biggest problem we are going to face in the future. In the US because of the vastness of the country and the multitude of providers this problem doesn't exist in the same way. Yes there are large content networks but they don't own all of or almost all of the means of distribution. In Canada the cartel does own those networks and they use that power to hold Canadians to the fire regularly.

Any Canadian internet connection/IP address in Canada can go onto CTV.ca, GlobalTV.com, MTV.ca or CBC.ca and watch any program that is made available on demand. Sure the quality isn't HD, the ads are incredibly repetitive and sometimes it stops working in the middle of show. On the other hand I don't have to watch 3 minutes of ads, I can watch programs whenever I want and only have to be able to access the internet to do it. This is the reality modern people want. Our lives don't dictate availability at certain hours. We are dedicated to them. If you want people to watch your content make it accessible and charge a reasonable price.

There is freedom given to the viewer by PVR, Netflix and other ways of viewing media on your own schedule. This is what iTunes, Amazon and others who are making serious gains understand: the delivery system is just as much, if not more important than the item of delivery. Most media companies have realized this and they are turning the corner but what the future holds is uncertain and none of us can predict what will happen.

In part three of this series we'll chat about the current realities and possible futures of the state web television in Canada. In light of SOPA, PIPA and Bill C-32 concerns are growing about the state of freedom on the internet and how that effects all internet users. Canada continues to exist as an experiment in telecommunications marred by challenges. I love my country. I love my Canadian telecomms. At this point I wouldn't have it any other way. Can it get better? Yes. Will it? I and many others have already given up cable and a home phone line.

It already has. 

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