Streaming hoops for Canadians makes movie-watching frustrating

by | Apr 12, 2021 | A&E

A shift in release methods has left Canadians confused as to where to find new movies and when they can watch them.

U.S. residents are able to see new Warner Brothers releases on HBO Max, a streaming service launched last year. For Canadians, it’s a different story, as the process isn’t as easy as signing in to an online service.

First-year Humber film student Danyal Somani says the vague hints of where to find new movies affect how much people want to see them.

“Being a bit more clear on where to access the shows, especially if it’s exclusive to one platform, would help,” Somani said.

The vagueness of the releases is because Canadians don’t have direct access to HBO Max. Instead, it is partially incorporated into Crave TV through a deal between HBO and Bell Media.

But that only applies to some releases.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League was accessible upon release through Crave TV’s website — provided a viewer bought the subscription and then added HBO to the bundle, but the website doesn’t state that.

And the movie wasn’t available if a viewer tried to access the movie through a digital cable box in an on-demand format. Rather, one would have to wait for it to air like a regular program.

Wonder Woman 1984 and Godzilla vs Kong were both day-and-date releases, meaning simultaneous releases in theatres and on streaming, yet those films could only be accessed by paying C$30 through digital rental stores like Cineplex or iTunes.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is now available on the Crave website for paid subscriptions to the Crave + HBO bundle. Wonder Woman 1984 is available now on Blu-ray and Godzilla vs Kong is available for rental from digital retailers.

The non-linear path, and in some cases region locking of media, is what can cause audiences to become disinterested in content, said Humber film grad Dylan van den Berge.

“It alienates their user base and causes them to either pirate the content they want to see or they account-share with friends to cover the cost of needed multiple subscriptions,” van den Berge said.

“I think one thing that would make streaming easier would be to eliminate region-exclusive content which would make it easier to know which platform has which content,” he said.

Account sharing has become common in recent years as streaming sites have become increasingly more popular.

Statista reported that in July 2020, 30 per cent of Netflix, 23 per cent of Hulu and 20 per cent of Amazon Prime Video subscribers in the U.S. share accounts with people outside their household. It’s a way to not only conserve money but split the cost of accessibility.

The tricky part is that account sharing goes against the terms of service for streaming sites. Section 4.2 of Netflix’s terms of use strictly states subscriptions are limited to those within the immediate household.

California resident Miguel Picho agrees the hoops viewers jump through can be a big setback, especially with technology advancing.

“The ones who are less tech-savvy won’t be able to do something more, like turn on a VPN or Torrent the film,” Picho said.

“They’ll simply see that they don’t have anything the movie is playing on, think it sucks, and then move on and wait until it’s on a different service for viewing for free in six months,” he said.