Crave (TV network)

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Crave
Crave 2018 logo.svg
LaunchedFebruary 1, 1983; 36 years ago (1983-02-01)
Owned byBell Media
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
CountryCanada
LanguageEnglish
Broadcast areaNationwide[1]
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario
Formerly calledFirst Choice (1983–1984, 1989–1993)
First Choice Superchannel (1984–1989)
The Movie Network (1993–2018)
ReplacedMovie Central (in Western/Northern Canada, as of March 1, 2016)
Sister channel(s)Starz
Super Écran
HBO Canada
Websitecrave.ca
Availability
Satellite
Bell TVChannels 300-303 (East SD)
Channels 308-310 (West SD)
Channels 1251-1253 (East HD)
Channels 1261-1263 (West HD)
Shaw DirectChannels 232-235 (East SD)
Channels 251-253 (West SD)
Channels 641 and 642 (East HD)
Channels 647-649 (West HD)
Cable
Available on most cable systemsChannel slots vary on each provider
IPTV
Bell Aliant Fibe TVChannels 362-365 (SD)
Channels 574-577 (HD)
Bell Fibe TVChannels 300-303 (SD)
Channels 1300-1303 (HD)
Bell MTSChannels 211-213 (SD)
Channels 1211-1213 (HD)
Optik TVChannels 9406-9409 (West SD)
Channels 406-409 (East HD)
SaskTelChannels 200-202 (SD)
Channels 500-502 (HD)
VMediaChannels 301-306 (HD)

Crave is a Canadian premium television network owned by Bell Media. It serves as the premium tier of the video-on-demand service of the same name, and is sometimes referred to in marketing materials as Crave + Movies + HBO to distinguish it from Crave's base tier.[2][3]

Crave's programming includes theatrically released motion pictures, original and foreign television series, made-for-cable movies and documentaries, live sports events and occasional stand-up comedy and concert specials. Along with French-language sister service Super Écran, Crave owns exclusive Canadian rights to most original programming from American premium services HBO and Cinemax (featured on HBO Canada, a dedicated multiplex channel within the Crave service), as well as Showtime (on Crave's other channels).

Launched in 1983 as the national service First Choice, early difficulties and a subsequent industry restructuring led to its operations being restricted to Eastern Canada from 1984 to 2016; it changed its name to The Movie Network (or TMN) in 1993. The service resumed national operations in 2016, when it replaced the similar Movie Central offering in Western and Northern Canada. In 2018, The Movie Network combined operations with Bell Media's hybrid VOD service CraveTV, with both services renamed Crave; the combined library of both services became available automatically to subscribers of the former TMN, while the over-the-top version of Crave added a second tier that provides access to the content previously exclusive to TMN, including films and first-run HBO programming, as well as the ability to stream the linear Crave and HBO Canada channels, on a direct-to-consumer basis.

History[edit]

Development[edit]

First Choice logo, used from 1983 to 1984 and 1989 to 1992. From 1984 to 1989, the service used a variant of Superchannel's star logo.
Logo used in January 1993 as the service transitioned to using The Movie Network as its primary name. This logo was short-lived; by early 1994 it had been replaced with the first in a succession of "TMN" logos used until 2004.

In 1976, Communications Minister Jeanne Sauvé was quoted as saying "(Canadian) pay television is inevitable". During the 1970s when premium television service HBO and the then up-and-coming Atlanta, Georgia superstation WTBS (now WPCH-TV) became available via satellite in North America, some Canadians who were living in underserved rural areas, wanted access to these services; the Saskatchewan government together with Cable Regina (later Access Communications) set up a provincial pay television network called Teletheatre in 1979.

Growth of grey market television receive-only dishes by 1980 led the Canadian government under the administration of Pierre Trudeau to allow for pay television in Canada, and that there would be hearings to licence pay television networks in Canada. In September 1981, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) held a hearing in Hull, Quebec to license Canada's first pay television networks. There were more than 24 applicants to start such services.

When First Choice Canadian Communications Corp. made its application to the CRTC in September 1981, the individuals and companies involved in the proposed channel included Donald Sobey (of the Sobeys supermarket chain), J. R. McCaig, Norman Keevil, television producer Riff Markowitz, Royfund Equity Ltd. (a mutual fund division of the Royal Bank of Canada), AGF Management Ltd. and Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. Together, they had $19 million in equity financing and proposed to spend $310.4 million over five years on Canadian television production. Estimated profit (over five years) would be $3.1 million. A pay television licence was issued by the CRTC to First Choice on March 18, 1982; the channel's first president was Donald MacPherson.

At the time that First Choice applied to the CRTC, it estimated that to program major American movies, entertainment specials and Canadian movies and specials, pay for satellite time, and marketing of the channel, it could sell it to the cable companies at a wholesale rate of $7.50 each month. However, by the time the channel launched, and providers received their revenue from the pay television services, the retail cost of First Choice jumped significantly to $15.95 (equivalent to $36.62 in 2018).

Launch and evolution[edit]

When First Choice was launched on February 1, 1983, it operated as a national premium service; the network's original slogan was "Look Out for Number One! Look Out for First Choice!" The network inaugurated programming with a two-hour promotional reel announcing the programming that First Choice would carry, followed by a replay of The Who's farewell tour concert special; the airing of The Who concert which had been aired live on other channels in Canada the year before, as well as the two-hour promotional ad had several critics wondering about the channel's claims that it would be commercial-free and not play reruns. These programs were followed by first movie ever to be broadcast on First Choice, For Your Eyes Only.

At 10 a.m. Eastern/7 a.m. Pacific Time that day, First Choice aired Star Wars and continued to replay the film every other day for eight hours; the channel offered its programming for free for 14 days starting with the channel's first day of operation, before it was scrambled, except to those subscribers who wanted to pay the extra fee to continue receiving the channel. Before the advent of stereo television and home theatre systems, subscribers who paid for cable FM service could receive a stereo feed of First Choice. During its first year, First Choice aired a two-hour block of programming from the American adult-oriented pay service The Playboy Channel (now Playboy TV) as part of a late night programming block on Fridays; the broadcast of these softcore pornographic programs resulted in opposition from many domestic feminist groups.[citation needed]

The "TMN" logo (seen here in black-and-white but normally rendered in a dark red on-air), as it was used from Spring 1996 to March 2001.

After a disappointing run for pay services in general, the industry was restructured in late 1983 and into 1984, and First Choice's service area was restricted to Canadian provinces east of the Ontario-Manitoba border, with competitor Superchannel (later Movie Central) taking territorial rights to the west of that border; as part of this restructuring, film production company Astral Bellevue Pathé (later known as Astral Communications, then Astral Media) took a controlling interest in First Choice,[4] and its principal owner Harold Greenberg became the channel's new president; Astral became sole owner by 1993.

The two regional services used the First Choice-Superchannel name from 1984 to 1988, before they were split again in September 1988. Beginning in 1984 (but particularly after the split from Superchannel), First Choice also made use of the slogan "The Movie Network";[5] this became the name of the channel itself in 1993.

First Choice was originally granted a bilingual licence; it also operated a 24-hour French-language channel under the same licence, which was called Premier Choix. In early 1984, that service was merged with another Quebec-based pay-television network, TVEC, to form Super Écran, which continues to exist today.[6] On October 1, 1994, The Movie Network launched a companion film service, TMN Moviepix (the channel would undergo two renamings – first to Moviepix in 1996 and then Mpix in 2001 – before eventually becoming The Movie Network Encore on September 18, 2012[7]).

In July 2013, Astral Media was acquired by Bell Media.[8][9]

End of duopoly, further developments[edit]

Final logo as The Movie Network

On November 19, 2015, Movie Central owner Corus Entertainment announced that as a result of a strategic review, it had decided to exit the pay TV business to concentrate on its national specialty channels, and would discontinue Movie Central along with Encore Avenue. To that end, Corus reached an agreement with Bell through which TMN became a national service once again on March 1, 2016, with Movie Central customers automatically transitioning to TMN. TMN Encore also expanded nationally for the first time, and Bell took over full operation of HBO Canada (previously a jointly-operated multiplex channel of both TMN and Movie Central). Although Bell did not buy the Movie Central licence, it paid Corus C$211 million in exchange for Corus' assistance in allowing TMN's national expansion;[10] the CRTC had quietly given administrative approval (i.e., approved without a request for public comment) to applications to allow TMN and TMN Encore to operate nationally in July 2015, so no further regulatory approval was required.[11][12] This meant that Bell was not required to fund a public benefits package worth 10% of the transaction value, as would typically be required by the CRTC in the event of a licence transfer.

On January 23, 2018, Bell Media announced that it had reached new licensing deals with Lionsgate and Starz Inc., under which the company will hold pay-TV window rights to Lionsgate releases, and TMN Encore will be rebranded as a Canadian Starz channel in 2019.[13]

"The All-New Crave"[edit]

In October 2018, a Rogers Cable service bulletin stated that beginning in November, The Movie Network subscribers would begin to receive Bell's over-the-top subscription service CraveTV as part of their service.[14] On November 1, 2018, Bell announced that CraveTV had merged with The Movie Network, with both services renamed Crave (and promotions marketing the relaunch as "The All-New Crave"). Under the service's new structure, subscribers to the existing CraveTV OTT service may upgrade their subscription to a $19.98 "Crave + Movies + HBO" tier, that adds the content formerly associated with TMN, as well as access to current HBO content. This marks the first time that the service formerly known as The Movie Network has been offered on a standalone basis without a television subscription. Existing TMN television subscribers are able to access the library previously branded as CraveTV as part of their subscription, which includes various television series as well as new and existing Showtime programming; the original OTT-only service without films or current HBO programming remains available at its existing $9.99 price. Bell Media head Randy Lennox cited increasing competition with Netflix as a basis for the decision.[15][16]

Channels[edit]

The area shaded in green is the broadcast area for Crave's "east" feeds; the remainder of Canada receives "west" feeds.

List of channels[edit]

Depending on the service provider, Crave provides up to six 24-hour multiplex channels (all simulcast in both standard definition and high definition) as well as a subscription video-on-demand service.

Crave broadcasts its primary channels (Crave 1, Crave 2, Crave 3, and HBO Canada 1) on an Eastern Time Zone schedule for most viewers east of the OntarioManitoba border, and on a Mountain Time Zone schedule for most viewers west of that border, the latter being a holdover from Movie Central's scheduling practices due to its origins in Alberta. After replacing Movie Central in Western and Northern Canada, TMN reverted to a numbering system for its channels similar to most other premium services, after several years of using theme-based branding for its channels; these numbers are currently used within program guides and promotional material; the numbers are not used in on-air branding.

Bell's other English-language pay TV service Starz operates under a separate licence, and subscribers to one of the two services do not necessarily have to subscribe to the other. However, some service providers require customers that subscribe to the Crave linear service to also subscribe to Starz.[17]

Channel Description and programming
Crave 1 The main "flagship" channel, including the premiere showings of most films, documentaries and television series including content from the American pay service Showtime, along with Canadian programming.
The opposite-region feed of Crave 1 (i.e., the Mountain Time feed in eastern Canada, and the Eastern Time feed in western Canada) is also available through many service providers, branded as Crave 4. For subscribers in eastern Canada, this replaced MFest, which was focused on independent and foreign films, in March 2016.
Crave 2 Various programming. Prior to March 2016, this channel was known as MFun! and focused on comedic and light-hearted films, specials and series.
Crave 3 Various programming. Prior to March 2016, this channel was known as MExcess and focused on action-oriented movies, plus late night pornographic content.
HBO Canada This channel offers original programming sourced mainly from American premium services HBO and Cinemax. Some providers offer both the East and West feeds, with the in-region feed listed on Crave's website and most EPGs as HBO Canada 1 and the opposite-region feed as HBO Canada 2.

HBO Canada[edit]

On September 22, 2008, both TMN and Movie Central announced that the two services would jointly begin offering a dedicated HBO multiplex channel (available in both standard definition and high definition), called "HBO Canada", on October 30. For TMN subscribers, HBO Canada replaced MMore and MMore HD. For Movie Central subscribers, HBO Canada replaced Movie Central 4. TMN ultimately assumed sole responsibility for the channel after replacing Movie Central in its service area; the channel is available at no additional charge to TMN subscribers and, moreover, is not available on a standalone basis except on MTS TV.

Logo of HBO Canada.

The channel focuses on programming from the U.S. premium service HBO and its sister network Cinemax, including several original series from the two channels, specials and sporting events not previously available in Canada. A selection of Canadian films and series also airs to satisfy Canadian content requirements.[18] HBO programming now airs solely on HBO Canada, as opposed to any of the other TMN multiplex channels.

Under the previous TMN / Movie Central system, HBO Canada was unique in that its schedule was common to both services, with the exception of timeshifting for the Eastern (TMN) and Mountain (MC) time zones. Although essentially operating as a joint venture of Bell and Movie Central's parent company Corus Entertainment, the east and west feeds were technically separate channels wholly owned by the parent company of the applicable regional service. In any event, HBO's parent company Time Warner was not (and continues to not be) a shareholder, and only licenses the name, logo and programming to Bell.

Other services[edit]

High definition[edit]

TMN launched its 1080i high definition feed in May 2005. HBO Canada began broadcasting in high definition on October 30, 2008, becoming the first TMN multiplex channel to launch its own HD simulcast feeds; followed by MFun and MExcess in 2010; the remaining TMN multiplex channel, MFest, launched its HD simulcast feed on September 18, 2012.[7]

Video on-demand[edit]

On most service providers, subscribers are also able to access the Crave pay TV service's programming on a video on demand service/folder now generally labelled "Crave + Movies + HBO", which includes feature films, television series from Crave and outside distributors, and specials. There is no longer a separate HBO Canada on-demand service.

If the base-level Crave VOD service is also available through set-top boxes on that provider, subscribers to the pay service are also able to access this content, usually in a separate "Crave" folder.

TV Everywhere[edit]

On February 27, 2013, The Movie Network launched The Movie Network Go (TMN Go), a TV Everywhere website and mobile app which features streaming content from the TMN service.[19] As of November 1, 2018, TMN Go is deprecated, with subscribers instructed to use television provider credentials to sign into the Crave app instead.

Movie Entertainment[edit]

Movie Entertainment, previously titled Feature, is Crave's monthly in-house magazine for linear TV subscribers, which has been published since June 1990 by Astral (now Bell) subsidiary Feature Publishing. Prior to 1990, subscribers received PrimeTime magazine, a similar publication originated by Superchannel (later Movie Central).

The magazine contains monthly listings for the Crave and Encore linear channels (including HBO Canada), as well as various other features related to that month's Crave programming and the entertainment industry in general.[20] A subscription to Movie Entertainment is included by default when subscribing to the Crave linear service through some TV service providers, though subscribers may opt out, in some cases resulting in a monthly savings of C$2, by contacting their provider. Conversely, other service providers (including Shaw Direct) require subscribers to opt-in (for the same $2 charge) if they wish to receive the magazine; the magazine is also available for direct subscription by calling Crave.[20]

Programming[edit]

Crave has distribution agreements for original programming produced and owned by the American pay networks HBO (including sister network Cinemax) and Showtime. Prior to the merger of TMN and CraveTV, TMN held exclusive rights to new seasons of HBO programming, which are now included in Crave's premium tier. Showtime series as well as library HBO programming (as well as some past seasons of current HBO series) were available on both services, and remain available in both tiers.

In a small number of cases, some current HBO or Showtime original series do not air on either Crave or HBO Canada; these are mainly series commissioned from outside production companies which retain international distribution rights and, usually, sell them to other Canadian channels. For example, the Showtime series Homeland is not covered under Crave's output deal with Showtime; instead, its international distribution rights were retained by 20th Century Fox which sold the Canadian rights to new episodes to Super Channel under its own output deal in effect when the series premiered. However, Crave holds non-exclusive rights to older seasons of Homeland through a separate deal with Fox, and the series is included in its streaming Showtime Collection.

Conversely, while Crave has first-run rights to the Warner Bros.-produced Showtime series Shameless, its rights are more limited than for series produced by Showtime directly – only the most recent season is available, and only on Crave's premium tier. Previous season rights to the show are held in Canada by FXX and Netflix.

Before other Canadian specialty networks like TSN and MuchMusic were licensed, First Choice prominently offered commercial-free professional sporting and concert events. Sports events featured on the channel came from such distributors as ESPN, USA Network and HBO.

Movie library[edit]

As of 2016, Crave exclusive first-run film licensing agreements with domestically-based Canadian film distributor Entertainment One (whose library includes the Canadian distribution rights to titles from Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Weinstein Company, Lionsgate Films and Focus Features) and American film studios such as Sony Pictures Entertainment (including Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Animation, Funimation Films, TriStar Pictures and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, but not Sony Pictures Classics which are distributed in Canada by Mongrel Media instead), Universal Pictures (including Universal Animation Studios, Working Title Films, Illumination Entertainment, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation and Legendary Pictures), and Warner Bros. (including Warner Bros. Animation, New Line Cinema, whose 1989-2010 film library is distributed in Canada by Entertainment One, Alcon Entertainment and Castle Rock Entertainment).

Crave also had a deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures giving it rights to all Disney titles (including those under the Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disneynature, Marvel Studios/Entertainment, Disneytoon Studios and Touchstone Pictures labels, but not Lucas Film Limited since Disney's first movie from them, Strange Magic was released in 2015 after TMN lost the rights to broadcast Disney movies) released theatrically through December 31, 2014, some of which continued to air on TMN into 2016; the equivalent rights for Disney movies released theatrically starting in 2015 are instead held by Netflix Canada and are now replaced by Fox films,[21] which ironically will soon be under Disney's ownership.[22] Two of Touchstone's titles, The Tempest and Gnomeo & Juliet, are distributed in Canada by Entertainment One; the distribution rights to two of Marvel Studios' films, The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man: Homecoming (the later, of which, Columbia Pictures co-produced) are owned by Universal and Sony respectively.

In 2016, when 20th Century Fox (plus the Fox Searchlight Pictures, Regency Enterprises, and Blue Sky Studios labels) debuted on TMN, the first film on TMN by Fox was The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, with ownership of the Canadian pay-TV rights to Fox's films being split between TMN and Netflix Canada.

List of programs broadcast by The Movie Network[edit]

Original programming[edit]

Acquired programming[edit]

Programs acquired from HBO (U.S.)[edit]
Programs acquired from Showtime (U.S.)[edit]
Other acquired programs[edit]

Duopoly issue[edit]

For many years, the de facto twin regional monopolies of The Movie Network and Movie Central have been criticised. At the time, no other similar premium services had broadcast within Canada. Critics argued that this limited competition and consumer choice, while proponents said that there was very little in content or functionality that was not already offered by the existing services.

In July 2005, the CRTC, the Canadian federal broadcast regulator, announced that public hearings would begin on October 24 of that year on four applications for new national pay television licences from different groups; each applicant claimed that they would commit to invest and develop more Canadian-produced programming content. On May 18, 2006, the CRTC announced that had accepted an application by Allarco Entertainment, while the other three were rejected;[23] this approved application effectively ended The Movie Network/Movie Central duopoly in Canada. On November 2, 2007, the new service was launched as Super Channel.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.telus.com/en/bc/support/article/optik-tv-service-updates?lang=en&prov=bc&INTCMP=VAN_tvnews
  2. ^ "Crave (package information)". Rogers Cable. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  3. ^ "Crave - Subscribe". Bell Media. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  4. ^ "Decision CRTC 84-654". August 16, 1984. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  5. ^ "CANADIAN TRADE-MARK DATA - Application Number 0537276". Canadian Trade-marks Database. Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
  6. ^ Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (1984-01-24). "Decision CRTC 84-32". Retrieved 2012-06-19.
  7. ^ a b Classic Movie Channels Mpix and MorePix Re-Brand to The Movie Network Encore and The Movie Network Encore2 CNW 2012-08-20
  8. ^ "CRTC approves Bell/Astral deal with conditions". Toronto Star. 27 June 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  9. ^ "CRTC approves Bell-Astral merger". CBC. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  10. ^ The Canadian Press staff (2015-11-19). "Bell expanding TMN into national pay TV service; to be sole operator of HBO Canada". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2015-11-19.
  11. ^ Bugailiskis, John (19 November 2015). "UPDATED: Corus walks away from pay TV for $211 million; Bell signs new multiplatform deal with HBO, will take TMN national". Cartt.ca. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  12. ^ "Broadcasting Applications Report (2015)". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Retrieved 18 December 2015. (see applications 2015-0639-6 and 2015-0640-4)
  13. ^ Hayes, Dade (2018-01-23). "In First Global Foray, Starz Sets Long-Term Deal With Bell To Enter Canada". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-01-23.
  14. ^ "CraveTV to be included in 'TMN + HBO' packages at no additional cost later this year". MobileSyrup. 2018-10-01. Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  15. ^ "All-New Crave Features HBO Collection". TVCanada. 2018-11-01. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  16. ^ "HBO Goes Direct to Consumer in Canada to Challenge Netflix". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  17. ^ Tbaytel. "Specialty Channels". Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  18. ^ Astral/Corus press release, September 22, 2008.
  19. ^ "The Movie Network Launches Three Video Streaming Services". Broadcaster Magazine. February 28, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Movie Entertainment Magazine". Crave.ca. Bell Media. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  21. ^ "Netflix signs deal to offer Disney movies in Canada". CBCNews.ca. 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
  22. ^ "The Walt Disney Company To Acquire Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc., After Spinoff Of Certain Businesses, For $52.4 Billion In Stock" (Press release). The Walt Disney Company. December 14, 2017. Archived from the original on December 14, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  23. ^ "CRTC Decision 2006-193". Crtc.gc.ca. 2006-05-18. Retrieved 2012-05-13.
  • Westell, Dan. "Pay-TV: Visions of riches lure big bidders", Globe and Mail, September 26, 1981

External links[edit]