When YouTube announced their live streaming TV service last month, there was another round of rejoicing among cable-cutting minded individuals. But there was one glaring omission that really came as no surprise: like most streaming TV services, it won’t be available in Canada.
YouTube’s rock bottom TV price will give customers more than 40 live channels for $35 a month, but potential subscribers north of the border are going to be out of luck, just as they are with almost every other TV streamer. Netflix and Amazon are the lone exceptions, making their streaming offerings available to Canada, but even those come with more limited libraries than their American counterparts.
So what’s stopping Canadians from getting streaming television? It all boils down to rights, says Canadian television expert Irene Berkowitz. For the most part, media companies break up rights to their shows specifically by country. And while streaming companies like YouTube secure the rights to NBC, CBS, and ABC shows in the US, they can’t get them in Canada because different broadcasters control different shows.
And since the profits are greater there, many broadcasters are content with their shows being only on cable. The only way Canadians can watch hit HBO shows like Game of Thrones is to sign up for a high end cable package.
While the United States has a number of independent streaming services, there are really only two Canadian specific ones: Bell’s CraveTV and Rogers’ Sportsnet Now. There’s always the chance that US streaming services will eventually get the rights to stream shows in Canada, experts say that a better plan is for the industry to move to a “global rights” system.
Canadians just want to watch the same content as their neighbors to the south, and as streaming TV services continue to expand, the demand for equality is only going to keep rising.