Shaw Communications Inc. has launched its cloud-based X1 platform BlueSky TV, that it’s developed with and is licensing from Comcast Corp. Shaw is looking to go head-to-head with Telus’ IPTV service Optik TV. While Optik TV offers a PVR that can be used across multiple TVs and devices as well as app integration, Shaw hopes to go further with BlueSky offering a voice-controlled remote eliminating the need to remember channels or scroll through the guide, real time sports scores and a specialized KidsZone with age-appropriate programming. The new set-top box product is now available in Calgary, and set to launch in more markets in the coming months.
The Jan. 5 World Juniors Gold Medal Game was the most-watched English-language hockey broadcast on any network since the 2015 World Juniors final between Team Canada and Russia. The game averaged an audience of 5.2 million viewers on TSN (4.2 million) and RDS (950,000) with Numeris confirming 11.1 million unique viewers. Overall, 17.2 million individual Canadians tuned in to 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship coverage.
TVA Sports is now the exclusive French-language broadcaster of Montreal Impact and MLS games for the next five years, scooping the rights from RDS. TSN has also extended its English broadcast rights agreement for an unspecified term, that will see the network become Canada’s exclusive English-language broadcaster of MLS. Beginning with the 2017 season, TSN will air exclusive coverage of every game featuring Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a slate of Montreal Impact matchups, marquee games featuring U.S.-based teams and other major MLS events.
PureFlix.com has expanded into the Canadian market. Through a content marketing partnership with Crossroads Christian Communications Inc. (CCCI), the SVOD service is billed by CEO Lorna Dueck as “like Netflix, minus the violence, sexuality and questionable language.” It will also carry content from 100 Huntley Street, Context TV and Tricord Media. PureFlix.com offers access to nearly 4,000 faith and family streaming video titles, including original series, movies, TV shows and kids’ programming. The content can be accessed from a number of different devices, including ROKU streaming media player; Chrome browser; Apple Apps for iPad and iPhone; Google Play for Android; and Google Chromecast.
A federal court has ruled BCE Inc. did not infringe an IPTV patent after a $350 million lawsuit brought about by Mediatube Corp. and Northvu Inc. in 2013. The suit surrounded Bell’s work with MediaTube to commercialize its IPTV services, under a confidentiality agreement, before launching its own Fibe TV service. Bell was awarded costs, elevated by 50 per cent.
DHX Media’s online kids’ network WildBrain has announced a deal with Turner International to manage a number of Turner Kids YouTube channels in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. The agreement will see WildBrain create and manage channels, provide content production services, audience development and social networking expertise. New local-language channels have already rolled out for key Turner brands like The Powerpuff Girls and Adventure Time in the UK, Russia, Poland, Brazil and Spanish-speaking Latin America, with more languages following soon.
DHX Media has also licensed exclusive U.S. broadcast rights for 30 brand-new half-hour episodes of Teletubbies which will begin airing on Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. preschool channel in 2017. The new show was commissioned and premiered in the UK by CBeebies, and has been picked up by 23 broadcasters worldwide to date, as well as Amazon Prime Video in the UK.
ePlay Digital Inc. has announced plans for a multi-platform Digital TV channel that will bridge poker, gaming, eSports and sports content. The new PVN Digital TV channel is expected to launch in Canada during the first half of 2017. PVN will provide Live Event coverage of premier poker tournaments in Canada and around the world, promising to enhance and gamify the viewer and player experience. The network will also feature original reality programming, sports handicapping, as well as eSports and gaming shows. PVN has recruited former Rogers and TSN broadcast exec Jim Nelles, former City/Rogers Media studio executive Malcolm Dunlop and former CBC sports producer Lynne Kellner to its management team.
YES TV, the Ontario-based religious channel, and the Canadian Basketball League (CBL) have announced a 10-year broadcast partnership. The league believes television exposure and a steady opportunity for viewership will help grow the league’s popularity and sponsorship opportunities. The league currently has four Ontario-based teams in Scarborough, Wellington, Durham and Hamilton.
Cineplex Events has rebranded its Great Digital Film Festival as the Flashback Film Fest. From Feb. 3 – 9, 17 fan favourites will screen in over 24 cities, including The Princess Bride and The Running Man, which are marking their 30 year anniversaries; 1999’s Fight Club and Groundhog Day.
Lionsgate will represent the international rights to Participant Media’s upcoming slate of narrative feature films and documentaries. The deal will cover Participant films in all territories outside of North America. Lionsgate will initially introduce two Participant narrative feature films, José Padilha’s Entebbe and Rupert Wyatt’s sci-fi thriller Captive State to buyers at the at the European Film Market in Berlin in February. Participant plans to provide Lionsgate with up to five narrative films annually, along with several documentary features.
TVO has received a $2 million donation from Goldie Feldman and the Barry and Laurie Green Charitable Trust that will create a new network of TVO Local Hubs in the province to expand and deepen news coverage. Focused initially on the first Local Hub in Thunder Bay (with three more Hubs TBA), the donation is aimed at increasing the overall presence of Ontario issues, ideas and events on TVO’s broadcast and website, and will include more in-depth current affairs coverage of indigenous issues. $500,000 of the donation is contingent on TVO fundraising additional dollars.