If the idea of instant access to every single episode of Sex and the City sounds more like a threat to you than a convenience, you are only scratching the surface of Bell’s new over-the-top offering, CraveTV. Canadians can enjoy a one month CraveTV free trial, but is the service worth paying for after that?
Bell, of course, is doing what every other cable operator everywhere is doing; trying to stem the tide of cord cutting with new Netflix or Hulu-like services. But the problem with CraveTV is the same problem with the recent Rogers/Shaw shomi offering; it’s too late and the content probably isn’t differentiated enough to unseat the incumbent Netflix or the myriad of other services that Canadians are accessing through Virtual Private Networks, which have become enormously popular here.
Below: The Most Recent CraveTV Commercial…
Bell CraveTV will launch on December 11th with about 300 titles including The Sopranos, Entourage, Homeland, Corner Gas, and Orphan Black. The company expects to double the amount of content it has within a year.
Will this be enough to convince Bell subscribers to keep paying their cable bill? That would be a wildly optimistic outcome.
As of August, 2015 CraveTV said it had 730,000 users. But Netflix is much, much, bigger, reaching four out of every ten English speaking Canadians. Bell says it will expand the service to all Canadians, not just Bell subscribers, in early 2016, effectively tripling its reach. But going head to head with Netflix will be an uphill battle for CraveTV, to say the least.
A recent study by The Convergence Consulting Group revealed that the industry added just 2000 new Canadian TV subscribers in 2013, a number that fell drastically from the addition of 37,000 new subscribers in 2012. So what’s on tap for 2014? The study says cable operators will lose 32,000 subscribers this year.
The real problem with the service is that Bell isn’t taking the problem its sets out to address seriously enough. A better solution would be to offer CraveTV free to current subscribers. Instead, Bell is asking them to increase the size of their cable bill by forking over four more dollars a month for content.
Bell Media president Kevin Crull doesn’t think those bailing on a cable bill that totals, on average, $65 each month, are tech savvy leaders. He characterizes this growing crowd as consumers who don’t fully appreciate his company’s product.
“The 10 per cent that aren’t TV subscribers, in a general sense, they’re not TV lovers,” said Crull in a recent interview.
There’s no doubt that CraveTV will be an enjoyable and convenient experience for many. The real problem with the service is that Bell isn’t taking the problem its sets out to address seriously enough. A better solution would be to offer CraveTV free to current subscribers. Instead, Bell is asking them to increase the size of their cable bill by forking over four more dollars a month for content. Crull describes this as a “fantastic value”. It remains to be seen whether Bell subscribers will agree.