Canada Gets Branded MGM and Warner Bros. Movie Channels

"Casino Royale"

Hollywood Suite Inc. is to launch The MGM Channel and Warner Films, along with two more cable channels devoted to studio and indie action and romance/relationship movies.

TORONTO – MGM and Warner Bros. are the latest Hollywood entertainment brands to stake out territory in the Canadian TV market.

Jay Switzer, a veteran Canadian broadcaster who launched Hollywood Suite Inc. as a private company two years ago, has bundled four new movie cable channels to launch here in November.

And two of them will separately sport MGM’s Leo the lion and the Warner Bros. shield logos.

The studio-branded movie channels are The MGM Channel and Warner Films, each to feature hand-picked library films from the Lethal Weapon or James Bond franchises, for example.

All the studio and indie titles will air commercial-free in HD, uncut and most will stream on a channel subscribers’ computer screen or smartphones for multiplatform convenience.

“We have their [studios] trust, their support, and we have their library and we have their brands exclusively in Canada from a movie channel point-of-view. That’s provided great comfort to our carriers, and helps us leap-frog over some of the noise in the marketplace,” Switzer said.

MGM and Warner Bros. are following other U.S. entertainment brands like Netflix, FX Networks, MTV Networks, E! Entertainment Television and AMC that established local beachheads to exploit a Canadian economy still running on full steam.

Why has it taken the two Hollywood studios so long to establish branded-channels in Canada?

“The majors have had other priorities. They’re integrated companies. They’ve had to prop up their domestic networks. That’s taken a lot of attention. And they’ve had lots of priorities in sports, and in other profitable lifestyle spaces,” Switzer argued.

The other two Hollywood Suite movie channels are Hollywood Storm and Hollywood Festival, to feature a range of action and romance/relationship titles from a host of U.S. and Canadian film catalogues.

Switzer said the bundled Hollywood Suite channels, to be available from domestic cable, satellite TV and IPTV operators from November, will be aimed at Canadian consumers that can now view first-run Hollywood movies from premium pay TV services at the top end of the market, or watch classic or library titles from a range of cable channels at the bottom end of  market like Showcase Action, Diva and IFC.

“It is a messy, tangled web to try to satisfy the movie lover right now in the specialty world. You have to pick and grab films from around 20 different channels,” Switzer argued.

Pricing and packaging of the Hollywood Suite will be unveiled in the fall.

But Switzer said the bundled channels will be priced lower than Netflix Canada’s current $7.99 a month subscription price to appeal to domestic movie lovers.