CTV to Live-Stream Academy Awards

10:39 AM PST 02/28/2014 by Etan Vlessing
ABC/Andrew Eccles
Ellen DeGeneres

Canadians will watch Hollywood's biggest night online so the broadcaster can showcase its cable authentication service and sign up additional carriers.

TORONTO -- Canadians will be able to watch the Academy Awards online for the first time ever on Sunday, after the CTV network agreed to unlock the live stream on its CTV GO mobile app for one day only.

The move comes as CTV, which will offer 10 hours of Oscar programming Sunday, including the ABC feed of the Hollywood awards ceremony hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, looks to showcase its online and mobile authentication service to Canadians.

Mike Cosentino, senior vp programming at CTV Networks, said the broadcaster will unlock its mobile app for the Academy Awards to allow Canadians to do more than check if they won their Oscar pool.

Following the lead of Fox Sports, which recently streamed Super Bowl  2014 for free via its Fox Sports GO app, CTV aims to get Canadian cable, satellite and telco TV partners to sign up for its authentication service.

It's an uphill climb. CTV launched its cable authentication service in November 2013, and parent Bell Canada only allows its TV subscribers to access CTV and CTV Two content via the CTV GO app.

"It's an eco-system play, with us as a broadcaster reaching out to consumers and saying, 'Your relationship with your BDU is important to us, and we recognize your appetite to take TV everywhere,' " Cosentino explained.

Bell Media, which also offers HBO GO, TMN GO and Bravo GO apps for its on-the-go subscribers, has competition in the TV Everywhere space here from rivals like Shaw Communications, Rogers Communications and Quebecor-owned Videotron in Quebec, which similarly offer authentication services for their core TV subscribers.

They all aim to fend off competition from new IPTV offerings from Telus and BCE and U.S. digital platforms like Netflix Canada.

"Our hope is, as we grow, we will increase our base of viewership via CTV GO," Cosentino said as Canadians make final preparations for Oscars viewing parties this Sunday night.

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