Canadians look on in envy at YouTube TV

Major Canadian cable providers offering inferior skinny bundles for the same or more money.

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Americans will soon have another, better option to choose from if they want cable television. Starting at some point in the spring, YouTube TV will deliver a basic bundle of actual TV channels alongside the cat videos it’s known for.

For $35 (U.S.) per month, or about $46 Canadian, Americans will be able to get about 35 channels through a new, separate YouTube TV streaming app.

The four major networks – ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox – will be included, as will be a number of affiliated channels including Disney, MSNBC, National Geographic and Fox News. Importantly, ESPN will also be in the mix.

The icing on the cake is that YouTube TV will be piped to subscribers over the internet, which means no special set-top box hardware will be needed. Users will be able to stream on their phones, tablets and computers, or on a TV via Google’s Chromecast.

This also means that subscribers will be able to use Google’s cloud DVR to record shows, with unlimited storage at no extra cost.

It’s big news for the United States, as cable providers such as Comcast and Cox will have a major new competitor with deep pockets and a loyal audience. The inclusion of ESPN is huge, since live sports is one of the main reasons to subscribe to traditional television.

That sound you hear is Canadians weeping in envy. Given that Google would have to jump through an entirely different and probably more difficult set of hoops to make YouTube TV available in Canada, there’s virtually zero chance it’ll happen here any time soon.

So here’s what Canadians typically have to settle for instead.

In Ontario, Rogers’ $25 skinny basic package gets 35 channels, including the four main U.S. networks, CTV, Global, CBC and a bunch of other minor channels.

There’s no sports, but there is a mandatory $12-a-month fee for the set-top box rental, unless you buy it outright for $319. If you want a PVR, it’s $25 a month. All told, service comes to between $37 and $50 a month. And don’t forget the $50 installation fee.

Bell’s skinny basic is no better. It’s also $25 a month with similar channels – no sports – plus a mandatory $15-a-month PVR rental, or $40 total. As an extra bonus, you have to take your internet service with Bell if you want TV. And of course there’s the $49 installation charge.

It’s worth noting that Canada’s big cable providers are only selling these “inexpensive” packages because they are being forced to by regulators.

Cheaper options can be had from smaller providers such as VMedia, but these companies aren’t available to all Canadians and often require subscribers to also sign up for internet service.

YouTube TV is thus serving up a superior selection of channels, including sports, with free recording and storage and no extra surcharges for the same or less than some of Canada’s biggest cable providers. You may resume weeping now.

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3 Comments on Canadians look on in envy at YouTube TV

  1. Drew Costen // March 1, 2017 at 11:41 am // Reply

    This Canadian is not envious at all. I get most of my shows from iTunes using season passes, which means I can watch them whenever I want, even offline, with no commercials. The rest of my shows I watch on Netflix or CraveTV. With the huge number of shows I watch, I couldn’t watch them live anyway, so this method is perfect for me. The only thing I’m envious about is that we don’t get HBO Go here in Canada.

    • Peter Nowak // March 1, 2017 at 1:15 pm // Reply

      Certainly cord cutters aren’t likely to be envious, but anyone interested in regular TV would be.

  2. Have to agree with Dave. It isn’t as bad as you make it out to be for Canadians. The big challenge is services like Hulu, CBS All Access, and many basic US cable channels end up with shows scattered across the spectrum in Canada often with no way to legally stream them. It takes a fair bit of work still to find where the show you want to watch is.

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