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Raise your hand if you’ve been watching a lot of tv at home since March. That’s what we thought. The pandemic has narrowed our entertainment options and we’re glued to our devices, bingeing more than ever. So what are you watching? The on-demand format provided by streaming services is well-suited to our current situation. From new and classic series to holiday movies, Canadians are logging on to tune in.

Services in Canada

If you’re in search of the best streaming services in Canada, you have a lot of choice. There are the obvious heavy-hitters such as Netflix, but what else is out there? We’ll go through a few of the more popular options below, but if you want a really comprehensive comparison of 26 services, have a look at the chart in this article. It covers subscription rates, the number of devices you can use, and primary selling points. At the very least, it’s a good high-level look at the vast array of what’s on offer.

  • Netflix You probably already know and love this service. It’s even inspired a meme about staying in. Plus, they make the most original productions.
  • Crave Lots of blockbusters congregate here. This Canadian service is owned by Bell, meaning there are a number of home-grown shows. Crave also has access to HBO’s library.
  • Amazon Prime You’re already asking Amazon to deliver your packages, why not your tv too? A subscription to Amazon Prime means free shipping along with the streaming service. A slick way to keep you shopping on Amazon. Here’s a list of shows to get your viewing started.
  • Disney+ When this service came north of the border, it created a lot of excitement among the Key West Video crew. We don’t mean just the parents among us—Marvel and Star Wars, anyone? This is a decidedly PG option with no GOT nudity or Big Mouth foul mouths.
  • Apple TV+ It’s cheap, but you get what you pay for. Watch on your Apple devices.
  • CBC Gem Speaking of free…this service is gratis with ads, or pay a low monthly fee to watch commercial-free. Lots of Canadian content here. Schitt’s Creek and Workin’ Moms are two of the surprisingly good comedies from our national broadcaster.

US Vs. Canadian Netflix

Choosing a streaming service is all about a platform’s library. However, the shows included with a subscription can vary country-to-country. Because of copyright and licensing restrictions, what you see on Netflix in Canada is not exactly the same as what our American counterparts are seeing. The catalogs are different in each country. The US only has about 100 more titles than Canada. Compared to what the rest of the world is watching on Netflix, our 5,500 options rank as third-most behind the US and Japan.

Streaming via VPN
A VPN can give you access to streaming services outside Canada

As anyone who watches Netflix knows, shows are constantly in flux. That means that although the total number of shows may remain roughly consistent, old shows are dropped and new shows are added continuously. HOT TIP: if you take your tablet or smartphone with you on vacation to another country and connect to the internet locally, then your Netflix account will access that area’s catalog. And if you want your account to think it’s in another country for expanded access, you can look into a VPN.

The Rise and Fall of Quibi

Remember Quibi? After a lot of hype earlier this year and a launch in April, it was shut down in October. “Quibi” is a portmanteau of “quick” and “bites” and the service was designed to deliver content in chapters running 10 minutes or less. It was also formatted for viewing on smartphones. This streaming startup attracted some big Hollywood names in front of and behind the camera. Developers were offered serious paycheques for high-end content.

streaming on the go
A lack of commuting during COVID hurt Quibi’s chances of success

Huge investments and star power couldn’t save the company founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg led by Meg Whitman. Many blame COVID for Quibi’s demise because the virus changed the target market. Executives felt their format and content would appeal to commuters and others on-the-go. With so many people staying home during the pandemic, the service eventually made its content available on subscriber tvs. But the venture wasn’t viable and they decided to cut their losses. If you’re still interested in seeing shows from Chrissy Teigen, Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Kevin Hart, and others, they may show up on other streaming services as Quibi looks to sell its assets.

Staying In?

Last year, a report projected that Canadians would consume more shows via streaming than through cable tv in 2020. So if you’re staying in tonight, or every night for the foreseeable future, you have a lot of viewing options. As we head into winter when it will be even harder to connect with friends and family in a physically distanced way, many of us will embrace the virtual friends we watch on tv. Stay safe and happy streaming!

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