Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Netflix. And if you still have cable, you have probably heard about the two latest creations by Rogers and Bell to compete with Netflix – Shomi and CraveTV, respectively. With the very recent announcement by the CRTC that our cable options are going to change dramatically very soon, there is a good chance that on-demand viewing is going to be come even more popular. Confused about which is best for you? Here are the basics:
AVAILABLE TO: anyone with an internet connection.
HOW IT WORKS: movies and TV shows are streamed through your internet connection and played on whichever device you choose; your smart TV, smart phone, gaming device, tablet, Apple TV, etc.
THE PROS: Netflix has the edge in sheer volume of movies, as well as Netflix-exclusive shows such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. You aren’t attached to a larger cable company with Netflix, so you can drop your cable provider entirely if you choose and it can be watched on your smart TV or on your TV through Apple TV or some game consoles.
THE CONS: since it is streamed, regardless of how or where you watch it, you will eat through your monthly internet allowance pretty quickly without an ‘Unlimited Data’ option. Netflix Canada has gotten a bit of a reputation for not being as good as the American Netflix. You may still need to pay for a separate cable bill if you want to watch TV programming that you cannot get online.
THE COST: The first month is free, after that it is $7.99/month if only one person is watching at any given time, $8.99/month if you want to be able to watch something different than your kids, and $11.99 if four people in your family want to watch their own shows at the same time.
AVAILABLE TO: anyone subscribing to Rogers (Shaw) cable and/or internet.
HOW IT WORKS: similar to Netflix, movies and TV shows can be streamed through your internet connection and played on the device of your choice. Unlike Netflix, if you have Rogers cable, you can also watch Shomi on your TV without using the internet (aka, no data).
THE PROS: if you are going to watch most of your programs/movies on your TV, you won’t have to upgrade to the unlimited internet package. If you already subscribe to Rogers, the addition is easy and added to your Rogers bill monthly. They are beginning to get newer content like Vikings, Sons of Anarchy, Parenthood, American Horror Story, Jane the Virgin, The Blacklist, and Outlander.
THE CONS: the shows and movies are mostly older, which is fine if you have young kids who don’t know any better or you want to binge watch old movies/shows you never had time to watch before now (Veronica Mars, anyone?). If you are looking for new release movies, you won’t find them here. If you are going to watch most of the programs on a device that isn’t hooked up to your cable, you will be using your internet connection and might want to upgrade to the unlimited data package.
THE COST: the first month is free, then it is $8.99/month with your Rogers package.
AVAILABLE TO: anyone subscribing to Bell cable.
HOW IT WORKS: shows can be streamed through your internet connection via the website or the CraveTV app. It can also be watched through your TV in the On Demand option. It is not yet possible to stream it on your smart TV or through your game console, though they promise that that will one day be available.
THE PROS: CraveTV has scored HBO and Showtime’s catalogues – Sex and the City, Entourage, the Sopranos – as well as classics and new classics like Star Trek, Doctor Who, Seinfeld, and My So-Called Life.
THE CONS: They only do TV shows, not movies. You must be a Bell cable subscriber. The viewing options aren’t as universal as Shomi or Netflix.
THE COST: $4/month with your Bell cable package.