A La Carte TV Launches in Ontario as Feds Mandate Cable Unbundling

Toronto IPTV startup VMedia opens UChoose Store to allow channels like Cartoon Network and Bloomberg to be purchased for $2.25 each.

TORONTO – As Canada drives towards cable unbundling, Toronto startup VMedia on Tuesday started offering Ontario TV subscribers the ability to choose from among 60 channels on an a la carte basis.

The pick-and-pay option will allow channels like Cartoon Network, Bloomberg, Nickelodeon and the Sundance Channel to be purchased individually for CAN$2.25 (US$2.12) a month.

VMedia subscribers can also acquire channels in packages of six or more for CAN$1.75 (US$1.65) each, or in packages of 12 or more for CAN$1.50 (US$1.41) per channel.

The IPTV provider, which offers largely unbundled channel packages, on Tuesday formally launched its UChoose Store as it competes in Ontario against cable and phone giants like Rogers Communications and Bell Canada.

VMedia's pick-and-pay option for TV viewers comes as the federal government has told the CRTC, the country's TV watchdog, to consider cable unbundling to encourage consumer choice and savings.

The debate over more flexible cable channel packaging for Canadians has seen carriers warn of less investment in homegrown programming and more American shows filling primetime schedules, while others argue cable package unbundling is necessary to stop consumers from cutting the cord,

"Canadians are entitled to pay only for those channels they want to watch," said VMedia director George Burger in a statement on Monday ahead of his company launching a pick-and-pay regime for TV subscribers.