cable providers

Who wants to pay more for basic cable?

Yes, Telus has been charging a 1.5% fee whenever their customers use a credit card since mid-October and now Bell Canada, Cogeco, Eastlink and Sasktel applied to start upping their rates every year “based on the annual consumer price index for the period ending December 31 of the preceding calendar year”, which means everyone will likely be paying way more for something that gets less and less appealing every year.

I currently stream most of the television programs I watch on a Roku television or watch over the air broadcast using a digital antenna and LTE/5G filter so I question the logic of hiking basic cable when most people are cutting the cord and starting to watch the Canadian networks online.

Some of them still charge fees for some of their programming but when it comes to news and weather, these are available free from CBC, Radio Canada, Global, CTV and The Weather Network via their apps, which are available for mobile devices and on smart televisions. And I suspect they will eventually offer advertisement sponsored streaming and time shifting, like CBC and Radio Canada have.

When it comes to comedy and drama that also airs on television, I now find myself watching them on Youtube, Prime Video and Disney+, basically viewing cable as a bonus in a discounted package with cell service, where I occasionally record programs that are unavailable online.

I also binge watch series on Netflix and Prime Video, the latter making Global and multiple other networks available for relatively affordable rates, so I believe these hikes are not conducive to the retaining of subscribers.

Bell just recently upgraded their fibre network, allowing some to download and upload at speeds up to 3 GBPS. And these occurred in multiple cities where over the air broadcasts are strong and readily available to most residents of these cities, so what could stop an independent provider from offering basic cable packages at less than $20.

I suspect most subscribers would be happy paying less for 1080p broadcasts, which is what one finds over the air, and prefer tuning into 4k primarily for films and sports. And Netflix is also still loosing subscribers so I think this hike is not fully thought out.

Is Bell trying to nudge people towards Crave, a streaming service that has just recently dropped prices to attract more subscribers? Who knows. But you have until October 28th, 2022 to comment on the proposal to hike basic cables rates from $25 to $28 “with subsequent yearly adjustments based on inflation“.

Sennheiser (Canada) Inc.

Free Previews Extended

Rogers Communications and several other cable providers have decided to extend their free previews for their customers due to the COVID-19 issue.

Rogers will be extending their free previews until the end of June and have added Tubi TV to their apps, which enables customers with compatible set-top boxes to access free, ad-supported movies and television programs.

I will, of course, add Tubi TV to my Links To Pass The Time blog entry as soon as possible.

Save on Music, Books and DVDs at Indigo.ca

Predictable…

Some of the cable companies have managed to get their way on skinny basic.

Yes, you will be able to get your local channels, the major American networks and the CRTC mandated channels for $25. But depending on your provider you could pay from $4 to $7 for the individual channels you choose extra, causing many to pay as much as they do now by simply choosing five or six extra individual channels.

Some of the providers are also limiting their skinny basic to standard definition, forcing their customer to pay more for the high definition channels. And one has to wonder how much they will charge for the rental of their boxes and extra outlets.

Those getting cable television over the internet don’t fare better either. To watch television they must subscribe to a high speed service and rent or buy modems, which adds to the bottom line. And in the end most will simply be offered an existing package by the customer service representatives, who were asked to downplay skinny basic.

Unfortunately those wishing to cut the cord have also been subjected to off the air signal reductions, requiring outdoor antennas. But I suspect more independent providers will take advantage of these issues and offer cheaper services.

Vmedia is one of the few IPTV providers to offer their services nation wide but Ontario and Quebec are also serviced by Beanfield, Distributel, Vianet Canada, and Zazeen. And many of these providers are expanding.

Apple TV is also an option, as are streaming serves like Netflix, Crave TV and Shomi, although the streaming services are still catching up on content.

I’m personally waiting for the dust to settle and for my contract with my cable company to expire to investigate my options. But i’m leaning towards cutting the cord if the shenanigans continue.

Vmedia Offers Free Trail

Independent cable provider Vmedia is offering a free trial for their services. Please contact Vmedia for details.

CRTC Hearings Start Today

The public hearings in regards to television in Canada have started today and will continue for six weeks.

Issues discussed will be basic cable rate maximums, channel packaging and the options to pick and pick individual channels, internet based television broadcasting, and whether off the air television should continue.

Unfortunately I had attempted to “cut the cord” and get my local channels off the air here in Ottawa and failed because of numerous issues caused by the broadcasters themselves, as explained in a previous blog post. But i’m hoping the CTRC will consider continuing off the air television broadcasts and attempt to fix the associated issues.

I’m hoping they will consider moving all digital broadcasts off the VHF band to the UHF band and allow the use of sub-channels, which would allow CTV 1 and CTV 2 to broadcast on one channel, for example. But I get this feeling that the broadcasters are going to try to end off the air television altogether, which would be rather annoying.

Yes, a reduction of basic cable to $20-$30 would be good. But I suspect this will result in some channels being removed from the basic cable line-up, especially now that some of the providers are pushing exclusivity.

What i’d personally like to see is must carry status for music networks that feature Canadian music videos and live performances by indie bands and lesser known acts. And yes, I know these stations have pretty much packed their schedules with “reality programs”. But is an hour or two per day too much to ask for ?

I’m going to keep an eye on this issue for the blog but if you want more details on what’s going on at the CRTC, click here or tune in on CPAC live weekdays at 9AM Eastern.

Free Television Online ? Tou.tv Update.

Francophone service Tou.tv has decided to offer extra content to their subscriber. But again it appears that some people will get this content free and some people will need to pay $6.99 per month for the service.

Now rebranded as ici.tou.tv, the Radio-Canada affiliate will offer their extra content free to Telus and Rogers subscribers but this commercial free content will only be available as a subscription to everyone else.

Personally I used the service to catch up on Radio-Canada Television programs La Facture, L’épicerie, Découverte and La Semaine Verte whenever I missed an episode of these series. But now I don’t know if the service will remain accessible on my Smart TV, as is, or if it will only be able to access a few episodes because I am not on Telus or Rogers.

The site is currently in beta so details are light. But it appears that users might already be limited to one or two seasons worth of episodes online.

I have checked the recordings for the aforementioned series and they appear to be limited to the most recent season, which is acceptable. But hopefully they are not considering further cuts to the free content.

I have noticed that they have added quite a few Pierre Richard films so I’m a bit tempted to take advantage of their $3.49 offer, which is valid for three months. And I’m sure if they were to offer more films from TV5, TFO and Telé Québec I would possibly consider subscribing. But I’m guessing they will take some time to get the site up and running at full speed.