New HBO Shows Go Direct to Consumer in Canada to Challenge Netflix

The Night King from Game of Thrones - HBO Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of HBO

The company will bundle new episodes of HBO's 'Game of Thrones' and 'Big Little Lies' in a $9.99 per month streaming package.

New episodes of Game of Thrones and Big Little Lies for the first time are set to be launched direct to consumer in Canada.

Canadian video giant Bell Media on Nov. 5 will make available a $9.99 per month streaming service, Crave + Movies + HBO, that also adds first-time movies on top of an existing $9.99 per month Crave streaming service, with titles such as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Wonder Woman.

Both direct to consumer Crave offerings will be made available as one package for a combined $19.98 per-month cost.

Bell Media CEO Randy Lennox told The Hollywood Reporter that having new HBO episodes go over the top in Canada is the next logical step for his company's multiplatform strategy as he fights a turf war with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

"We are in a world of brand ubiquity, and there [are] more OTT players. So we want to aggregate what we consider to be the best content portfolio in the market," Lennox explained.

Besides launching its HBO Now streaming service elsewhere internationally, HBO in 2015 chose to sign a long-term licensing deal in Canada with Bell Media to hand its local partner all rights for current and library HBO content.

Bell Media, a leading player in the Canadian content business feeding its local broadcast, cable and streaming platforms, has also acquired premium U.S. TV brands such as Showtime and Starz via exclusive output deals, keeping them away from Netflix and other digital insurgents north of the border.

The Canadian player will maintain its $9.99 per month Crave streaming service that includes select HBO library titles and catch-up viewing for current HBO series for TV viewers with no cable subscription. It has rebranded its pay TV service, The Movie Network, as Crave.

Bell Media's decision to go direct to Canadians with the added Crave + Movies + HBO package aims to drive a bigger wedge between the Canadian media giant and Netflix, a dominant pay TV player in the region.

"Netflix exists. They're very successful. But I don't spend a lot of time obsessing about them. I spend all my time building my platform that will be very competitive," Lennox said.

Besides the streaming space, Bell Media has also doubled down on its traditional linear TV business by launching a so-called CTV digital super-hub, which draws content from its main CTV free-to-air network and cable channels like Space, Bravo, Comedy and Gusto, which were recently rebranded as CTV Sci-Fi, CTV Drama, CTV Comedy and CTV Life.