Oh Canada: Leading with a la carte

It looks like Shaw, Telus, Rogers etc  don’t have the same kind of political clout as does Comcast here in the U.S.  Canadian regulators have mandated that by the end of 2016 consumers will be able to pick and choose their channel lineup.

Chinese-Canadian pop star Wanting Qu in  the CBC show Absolutely Vancouver

Chinese-Canadian pop star Wanting Qu in the CBC show Absolutely Vancouver

The formula is interesting: $25 for basic plus $x per each additional channel. The basic package sounds like now defunct Aereo.

If I had this option I’d immediately sign up and add maybe the two additional cable channels I like.  (Can you even get the Golf Channel in Canada?)



Still some questions remain:

  • Will the operators set the a la carte pricing reasonably, i.e.  $1 not $10?
  • Will niche stations really disappear?
  • Will the operators be able to tweak the formula somehow to recover the lost revenue?

Imagine the droves of consumers that might cancel on day one to take their cable bill from $100 down to $20. This is really stunning that the Canadian government can simply mandate such a change. I doubt the equivalent could happen here in the U.S. until the case made it pass the supreme court, i.e. Comcast et al vs FCC.

In any case it sets up a convenient test bed for U.S. business and consumers. Is it really the end of the world for the operators? The holy grail for consumers? We’ll be watching.


Edit  3-23-15: Changed $20/mo to $25/mo. Some confusion here based on multiple sources. The Multichannel piece has removed the monthly price and other sources   say $25.

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3 Responses to Oh Canada: Leading with a la carte

  1. Bob A. says:

    And yet they’re behind the US in other things, nothing like tracfone there, or voip phone for laptops, no hulu. Google voice isn’t available also. Cable in the US is going to have to do something similar with the advent of slingtv and Apple tv ott.

  2. Len Mullen says:

    Such a mandate could actually save the cable/satellite industry in this country. If I could get basic channels for $20/month, why would I bother with an antenna? Of course, the devil is in the details, right? If that $20 doesn’t include required internet access, set top hardware, fees, and taxes, this may not be much of a bargain. In the US, Comcast’s bargain tiers are SD only. That’s no bargain!

    And what about the cost of carrying those channels? Will those prices be fixed as well? Subsidized by the government? More fees on premium bundles?

    Generally, I prefer to let the market set rates. Canada is not the US, so I do not expect this to be available locally any time soon, but I do expect the cable and satellite providers to do something similar — I think Dish already has.

    • Bob A. says:

      Yes, sling tv is a subsidiary of dish and is offering OTT service starting at 20 dollars, includes espn and espn2.

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