By in Movies & TV

Free Streaming Restricted by Canadian Network

I've been streaming TV shows for years. Ever since I discovered that TV networks offered an on-demand option to access the content they air on TV each week, I've pretty much dropped watching TV and relied on the streaming option. It just made more sense for me.

  • I could watch a show when I wanted, and not just on the night when the network aired the episode.

  • I could pause if I needed to walk away, or rewind if I missed something the first time.

  • I could go back to watch a previous episode I'd missed, and I sometimes even made a marathon of watching several weeks' worth of episodes in a single evening.

Free Streaming Gets Locked Down

Unfortunately, over time the networks have introduced a number of measures to compete with services like Netflix and Hulu. In Canada, the latest thing is locking episodes of our favourite TV shows , and asking us to sign into the streaming service via our cable TV or satellite provider.

Yup, that definitely puts an end to people using on-demand streaming as an alternative to paying for cable!

Now some Canadian networks like CBC don't seem to have implemented this measure at all. Others, like CTV, seem to be limiting the number of episodes that are available at a given time, but don't seem to be in direct collusion with the cable and satellite providers.

TV Broadcasters Compete with Netflix

This is not the case with networks like Global, however. The trend is towards locking down what used to be free streaming for the TV shows that network distributes. Over the last few weeks I've noticed that most of the content on Global's video page displays the lock icon. A few of the most recent episodes are still available free of charge, but for certain shows it seemed that even the latest episode was only accessible if the viewer logs in through their TV provider.

Why such a move? Well, aside from the questions surrounding the expense of offering free streaming services, Global TV network is owned by Shaw Media – a cable and satellite TV provider, and the owner of speciality channels like Slice and History, that can only be accessed through a paid TV provider. So it's not in Global's best interests to be offering free, what its parent company sells.

But Shaw has also been prompting Canadian legislators to classify services like Netflix as broadcasters , so these competing companies would have to contribute their share to the expense of protecting Canadian content.

So really, it's not surprising Global is restricting access. But it is still a let-down for people who live on a fixed income, and who can't necessarily afford the price of today's cable and satellite packages.

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Image credit: TV unplugged by OpenClips/ Pixabay ( CC0 1.0 )

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phoenixmaid wrote on February 10, 2015, 6:56 PM

Ouch that is going to upset a lot of people who have come to rely on the service in place of normal viewing

Ruby3881 wrote on February 10, 2015, 7:12 PM

For now, streaming seems to still be free on some networks - at least the most recent episodes. But I do worry this will become a trend that other networks might follow emoticon :sad:

wolfgirl569 wrote on February 10, 2015, 7:15 PM

I almost never stream except through netflix. Here you have to pay to get the latest episodes

JeanC wrote on February 10, 2015, 7:23 PM

There are a number of stations doing the same down here in the US. Used to be you could watch shows streaming after a certain number of days with limited commercials. No problem I can wait a week to see the latest show and a couple commercials every 15 minutes is fine. Alas, now they let you have one episode and then you have to sign in thru your satellite or cable provider, of which my provider for basic cable is a NOT choice :P

Last Edited: February 10, 2015, 7:43 PM

maxeen wrote on February 10, 2015, 7:33 PM

TV is not on my agenda these days,except to watch some good jazz wich is rare.

inertia4 wrote on February 10, 2015, 8:11 PM

Ruby3881 I think this whole TV thing as become such a mess lately. With cable, satellite and all those set=top boxes and services, TV has become very undesirable to me. I have satellite TV with Directv. But I also have an Apple TV. These independent things coming out will cost more in the long run if it keeps up like this. I don't watch much TV anymore as a result. And I do spend more time online now. I find it to be more entertaining.

GemOfAGirl wrote on February 10, 2015, 11:01 PM

Some of the major networks in the U.S. also offer free streaming of TV shows, but they usually don't make them available until the day after they've aired on regular TV. Like regular TV, they have commercial breaks, but unlike regular TV, the commercial breaks are shorter (but have been getting longer).

Right now, Netflix is involved in a huge battle with the major cable providers over internet access and speed. Much of the internet cable was built and is owned by cable providers, and the cable companies want to be able to slow down the speed of Netflix's content, since they're seen as a competitor. But they also want the right to slow down anyone else's traffic as well. There's a competing movement to get the internet reclassified as a utility (a la telephone or electricity lines), which would restrict the cable company's ability to slow down the speed of their competitor's internet traffic.

BarbRad wrote on February 11, 2015, 2:05 AM

I see your point. I really don't watch enough TV for this to be an issue with me, and I only stream things that my TV doesn't broadcast. But i know this can affect many who depend on this as their main source of entertainment.

phoenixmaid wrote on February 11, 2015, 5:01 AM

to be honest i don't use the TV streaming services, I'm a wee bit naughty and use free online sites that are probably breaking several laws. but it means I don't have to pay a tv license or subscription charges for the likes of sky or Netflix which saves me hundreds of pounds a year.

Ruby3881 wrote on February 11, 2015, 11:36 AM

Our network streaming was usually delayed to the next day as well, and unlike Netflix has been supported by commercials. You'd think that would bring in enough revenue for the networks to survive, but I suspect they're losing advertisers. Sometimes I have to sit through the same commercial four times in a row, during a single commercial break.

The FCC's net neutrality proposals are, in part, designed to fight the blocking and throttling concerns, as well as ISPs offering a fee-based priority to larger companies that can afford it. So, in some part, the proposed changes will help alleviate unfairness in competition. Although I don't know they will do enough to promote the kind of healthy competition that lowers costs for consumers.

GemOfAGirl wrote on February 11, 2015, 11:51 AM

The part of the net neutrality debate that frustrates me is that our legislators seem to be very concerned about making sure the cable companies are happy, and yet they seem to be oblivious to the fact that so many people are cutting the chord because of the huge monthly costs of cable that should have been more than enough to keep the cable companies happy. I don't feel like there's anyone who has the authority to make decisions on the matter that are actually looking out for the interests of regular people like us. The head of the FCC is a former lobbyist representing the interests of cable companies - those companies have been very good to him over the years, so I don't foresee him ever considering what's best for the rest of the public.

momathome wrote on February 12, 2015, 3:18 AM

A few networks are starting to do that in the United States as well over the last month or two. They think that this will force people to buy the cable or satellite but personally it just turns me off from watching their programming at all. While I can understand it for the "cable only" channels what is irritating me is that even some of the "local channels" are doing it as well. These are the exact same channels that you can watch free if you have a digital converter box and an antenna so why are they requiring you to have a cable sign-in to watch the shows? The answer is that many of the networks also have "sister companies" that provide cable services! So in order to expand their overall business they are making these changes.

In the end though, it's up to us. Do we allow them to force us to purchase services we don't need or want or do we just boycott their programming instead? I'm guessing you can figure out my answer.

WordChazer wrote on February 12, 2015, 2:22 PM

You'd think that cable and satellite TV packages made enough from their tons of advertising already to allow free streaming after the show had aired and repeated on their providers. Some of the UK on demand services have locks to prevent people from scrolling through the adverts, so even if you are watching a week or so after the event, you still have to endure the adverts.

seren3 wrote on February 12, 2015, 4:47 PM

I dropped AT&T cable - even when trying to watch a show that one could unlock by going through the cable sign-on, the website worked so badly that I never got the service up. Phooey. I have become a binge watcher and now don't mind waiting 9 months to see the new season on Netflix.
I remember a pal in the 70's - talking about getting into the advent of cable tv and how there would never be free tv again. He and his partner rubbed their hands together with glee. And it came to pass!

bleekley wrote on February 12, 2015, 7:50 PM

I have found that life is more interesting without TV, whether free or not.