Canadian SVOD Market Projected to Reach 28 Million Subs in 2022, Driven by Netflix

Following months of home confinement due to the pandemic, the number of Canadian consumers accessing subscription VOD will top 28 million subscribers in 2022, according to new data from eMarketer. The tally had previously been projected for 2024. In 2021, there will be 1 million more digital video viewers in Canada than previously forecast.

While YouTube tops the list for overall video viewership, subscription VOD services, led by Netflix, account for most of the growth in video viewership. Domestic video services, like Crave and Club Illico, have gained committed audiences but don’t rival the numbers from international services, which include Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video.

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Netflix and other SVODs have fewer viewers than YouTube because they focus solely on entertainment. Additionally, there’s greater competition for eyeballs among these platforms. There will be 23.8 million subscription OTT viewers in Canada this year, which is up 4.1% year-over-year, and on top of a 14.9% growth rate in 2020.

“We predict that nearly two-thirds of Canadians will be subscription OTT users by 2025,” analyst Paul Briggs wrote in a blog post. “As the market grows, subscription OTT viewers will take a larger share of digital video viewership. They will account for 86.3% of digital video viewers in 2025.”

Netflix is still the most popular OTT service by far, with 18.6 million viewers, up 2.9% over last year. We expect viewership will grow at a slower rate in the coming years. By 2025, Netflix will garner viewership from half of the population in Canada.

Roku Expands TV Marketing Campaign to Canada

Roku Oct. 5 unveiled its “OK, Roku does that” TV streaming marketing campaign in Canada building on the momentum of new product launches as the streaming media pioneer enters the winter holiday season. The objective of the campaign is to create long term brand awareness for Roku and future streamers as consumers begin to think about holiday spending.

With nearly half (46%) of Canadian TV streamers signing up for new streaming services in the past 12 months, the “OK, Roku does that” campaign highlights the TV streaming platform for the innovation and ease of use in a broad campaign across TV streaming, traditional pay TV, out-of-home, and social media.

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The Roku State of Canadian Streaming survey found that half of Canadian streamers reported using three or more streaming services, a 6% increase year-over-year.

The hero of the 60-second spot looks back in time, over the course of history to see how seemingly simple innovations have transformed the world and how people navigate it. The launch commercial moves through a short history of transformative innovations; culminating in the decade of streaming.

“We are witnessing a fundamental change in how consumers engage with content and entertainment, and that shift has been led in large part by Roku,” Ellie Bamford, SVP, global head of media and connections at R/GA, Roku’s ad partner for the campaign, said in a statement. “In this campaign we wanted to create an emotional connection that highlights the innovation and leadership Roku has provided in streaming. We believe we’ve achieved that with our great partners at Roku in an opportunity within one of the hottest industries.”

Additional video ads are focused on driving awareness for Roku TVs, and will play on the same “OK, Roku does that” theme and be on display in major cities around Canada, including Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Roku will also use its “OneView” ad-buying platform built for TV streaming, to manage the digital portion of the campaign across desktop, mobile, and TV streaming.

Netflix Launches Fan Site Highlighting Canadian Filming Locations

Netflix has launched a fan website affording insider access to filming locations used for some of the SVOD pioneer’s original series, including “Virgin River,” “The Umbrella Academy” and “Restaurants on the Edge,” among others.

Dubbed “Netflix in Your Neighborhood,” the streamer characterizes the site as a “window” into some of the Canadian cities and towns that have “enriched our films and series, and captivated audiences worldwide.”

Site visitors can search filming locations by a film or series title, or by province. Users can also access directions to these destinations, and see how they’ve been featured on Netflix.

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“We’ve filmed hundreds of productions across Canada and the site will feature some current highlights, as well as select new titles, once they are released,” Lindsey Scully, with Netflix’s marketing department, wrote in a post.

Netflix cited third-party data that suggests viewers of content filmed in Canada are more than twice as likely to want to visit the country. Indeed, the data found that viewers streaming the series “Somebody Feed Phil,” which has an episode dedicated to Montreal, were 79% more interested in Canada’s food and drink and 76% more interested in Canadian cities.

“Through Netflix, members can discover many different parts of Canada, encouraging them to look at these Canadian destinations through a new lens,” Scully wrote.

Tubi Adds Fox Titles to AVOD Content in Canada

Fox Entertainment’s AVOD/FAST platform Tubi announced it has added more than a dozen Fox TV shows to its streaming library in Canada. Shows include “The Masked Singer,” “The Masked Dancer,” “Mental Samurai,” “Name That Tune” and “Ultimate Tag,” among others.

The titles join recent Tubi movie additions Tales of a Fifth Grade Robin Hood, Goodfellas, Letters From Iwo Jima and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, among others. A survey conducted earlier this year by Tubi’s Canadian launch partner, Rogers Sports and Media, found the platform is the most popular AVOD service in Canada, behind YouTube, and saw a 107% year-over-year increase in total view time from January 2020 through January 2021.

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“Fox’s marquee titles launching in Canada comes at an optimal time when our Canadian audience is growing at a rapid pace,” Adam Lewinson, chief content officer of Tubi, said in a statement. “We’ve seen Fox content resonate with our viewers in the U.S., so we’re thrilled for our audience in Canada to now have these premium series at their fingertips.”

In addition to specials, including “TMZ Presents: Harry & Meghan: The Royals in Crisis,” “TMZ Presents: Tiger King — What Really Went Down?,” “After the Mask” and “Nick Cannon’s Hit Viral Videos: Holidays 2019,” among others.

“Making these titles available, a number of which are produced and owned by Fox Alternative Entertainment, illustrates our strategy of combining Fox with the [streaming] reach of Tubi,” added Rob Wade, president of alternative entertainment and specials at Fox Entertainment.

Tubi has more than 35,000 movies and television series from more than 250 content partners, including every major studio. The platform is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub, and on OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Vizio TVs, Sony TVs, Samsung TVs, Hisense TVs, Comcast X1, Cox Contour, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

FuboTV Acquires Italian Soccer Streaming Rights for Canada

Online TV sports streaming service FuboTV Aug. 19 announced it has acquired the exclusive streaming rights for Coppa Italia and Serie A professional soccer distributed in Canada.

ViacomCBS’s streaming platform Paramount+ holds the U.S. streaming rights to Serie A and Coppa Italia.

Fubo’s Coppa Italia agreement includes a minimum of 41 live matches per season from the annual Italian cup competition, plus the Supercoppa Italiana. All matches will stream exclusively in Canada on FuboTV. FuboTV’s coverage is in partnership with sports marketing agency S&T Sports Group.

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The online TV platform will also be the exclusive English language Canadian home of Italy’s Serie A soccer league. The agreement was brokered by Infront, the international media rights partner of Lega Serie A in Canada. Serie A consists of 380 matches annually with FuboTV’s coverage beginning Aug. 21.

“With Canadians cutting the cord at an increasing pace comparable to the U.S. market, according to a report by Boon Dog Professional Services, we see a tremendous growth opportunity,” David Gandler,  co-founder and CEO of New York-based FuboTV, said in a statement.

The agreements mark the latest moves by FuboTV to differentiate its sports-first programming with exclusive soccer rights. Earlier this year, FuboTV acquired the exclusive streaming rights to the Qatar World Cup 2022 Qualifying matches of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) in the United States. The platform also has exclusive Canadian streaming rights for the Liga MX home matches of Club Deportivo Guadalajara S.A. de C.V. (Chivas), in addition to streaming international soccer leagues like French Ligue 1 locally through its content partners.

Tokyo Olympics a Streaming, Broadcast Hit in Canada

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics may have been a relative ratings letdown in the United States compared to past Games, but north of the border, consumer interest remained high.

Spurred by the Canadian women’s soccer team’s penalty-kick gold medal win over Sweden, the 32nd Olympiad proved a ratings winner on broadcast, radio and streaming, according to official carrier CBC, Canada’s largest national public broadcaster.

A peak TV audience of 4.4 million watched live the women’s soccer team’s historic win, with an additional 725,000 live video views on digital platforms, making this Canada’s most-watched moment of Tokyo 2020. Canadians streamed 37 million video views on CBC digital platforms during Tokyo 2020, up 62% from the 2018 PyeongChang Games.

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Overall, 28 million television viewers — 74% of all Canadians — tuned in for coverage, with CBC ranking as the most-watched network in Canada for 17 consecutive days, delivering a 21.4% audience share. Canada finished 11th in the medals count with 24, including seven gold.

“Whether watching online, through apps, social media or on television, millions of viewers across the country tuned in and engaged with CBC’s coverage each day, demonstrating the continued relevance of the Olympic Games,” Chris Wilson, executive director of sports and Olympics for CBC, said in a statement.

FilmRise Acquires AVOD Rights to Canada’s ‘Heartland’

Ad-supported streaming VOD service FilmRise June 22 announced the acquisition of domestic distribution rights to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s longest-running hour-long drama series, “Heartland.” Adapted from Lauren Brooke’s best-selling novels, “Heartland” is a multi-generational family drama series set in Alberta, Canada that began airing in 2007 on the CBC and just wrapped its 14th season March 2021.

The deal includes rights to 214 episodes across 13 seasons as well as the TV movie, A Heartland Christmas, which garnered 1.4 million viewers when it originally aired. The series has won a number of Rosie awards from the Alberta Film & Television Awards, and has been nominated for a number of Canadian Screen Awards.

“We are fortunate to add this wonderful series to our expanding content of wholesome family programming,” Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise, said in a statement.

The series is adapted from Lauren Brooke’s best-selling novels, and follows life on the Heartland ranch as sisters Amy and Lou, together with their grandfather Jack, deal with the challenges of running a ranch that has been in the family for generations.

“Genesis is excited to make this hit series from Canada available on new platforms,” said Wayne Lepoff, CEO of Genesis International TV & Film. “We feel viewers will welcome ‘Heartland”s ongoing themes of family strength and family values as well as its messages of showing compassion towards others.”

“Heartland” will be streaming on a number of digital platforms, including The Roku Channel, IMDb TV, Peacock, Pluto TV, Tubi, and the FilmRise streaming network, among others.

Netflix to Open Office and Hire Dedicated Content Executive for Canada

A decade after its launch in Canada, Netflix announced it is opening an office and hiring a dedicated content executive to work directly with the Canadian creative community.

“We could only have dreamed in 2012 when our first original production began filming in Ontario (‘Hemlock Grove’) what an important part of our business Canada would become,” read a Netflix announcement.

“Since 2017 alone we have spent more than $2.5B CAD on productions in the country. But more than that, we have built relationships with so many talented directors, screenwriters, actors, producers, animators and more,” continued the announcement, which noted the kickoff of local talent, such as Mississauga’s Maitreyi Ramikrishnan in “Never Have I Ever.”

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The announcement also noted a three-year focus on working with organizations across Canada to support the development of creators from underrepresented communities.

“Through over 20 local partnerships, we have helped support the career development of more than 600 Canadian creators to-date,” read the announcement. “Canada is an amazingly diverse country and growing our presence locally will help us share more authentically Canadian stories with the world, whether through the development of original content or through co-production and licensing opportunities. As always, the goal is to give our members great choice and control over what they watch.”

PBS Masterpiece Launches on Amazon Prime Video Channels for Canada

PBS Distribution Sept. 15 launched its streaming channel PBS Masterpiece on Amazon Prime Video Channels for Canada.

“We have seen tremendous consumer demand and subscription growth since we launched PBS Masterpiece on Amazon Prime Video Channels in the United States in May of 2017,” Andrea Downing, co-president of PBS Distribution, said in a statement. “This expansion allows our committed and loyal Masterpiece fan base in Canada to enjoy these high-quality, award winning programs whenever they like.”

The channel launches with popular Masterpiece programs such as “Sanditon,” “Endeavour,” “Home Fires,” “Inspector Lewis,” “Poldark” and “Victoria.”

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In addition to Masterpiece programming, the channel will also offer titles from the Walter Presents library of series from countries all over the world, subtitled in English, marking the debut of Walter Presents programs to Canadian audiences. Titles include the highest-rated drama in Denmark, “Seaside Hotel,” and crime thriller/mysteries “Professor T,” “Though Shall Not Kill” and “Before we Die,” among many others.

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“I am genuinely thrilled to be launching Walter Presents in Canada, with its rich, bi-lingual culture and its history of active engagement with the world as well as its long-standing appreciation of world drama,” said Walter Iuzzolino, co-founder and curator of Walter Presents, in a statement. “I know Canadian audiences will embrace our collection of quality, award-winning series with a sense of curiosity and with real gusto.”

The subscription rate for PBS Masterpiece in Canada will be CDN $6.99 per month plus applicable taxes with an Amazon Prime membership.

Futuresource: Amazon’s Canadian Launch of Digital Movie Sales/Rentals Expected to Jumpstart Video Market

With the coronavirus pandemic projected to shrink Canadian consumer spending on video entertainment by 6% in 2020, the sector is expected to increase by 11% since 2019, thanks in part to Amazon Prime Video launching first-time digital sales/rentals of movies in April, according to new data from Futuresource Consulting.

Amazon’s transactional VOD launch is expected to help turn around a flatlining home entertainment sector and drive the market to a new level over the coming years, leveraging the ability to monetize consumers who are already engaged on the Prime Video platform for SVOD and can now find movies to rent or buy without having to leave the user interface.

Other factors jumpstarting Canadian consumer video spending includes a resurgence in box office, driven by a strong slate of releases enhanced by this year’s postponements and ongoing SVOD growth.

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“Despite the challenges faced by the fallout from COVID-19, there have been some high points in the market,” market analyst Tristan Veale said in a statement. “SVOD has led the charge, with our forecasts showing a 39% increase in revenue in 2020.”

While social distancing and lockdown measures have resulted in consumers immersing themselves in streaming video services, including Disney+, this has not carried enough momentum to supersede the deficit created by the shuttered box office and large declines in physical media. Other factors include pay-TV cord cutting, dropping of sports TV packages, due to cancellations of sporting events.

SVOD will continue to drive growth in the Canadian video market, growing from CA$1.4 billion last year, to achieve in excess of CA$3.3 billion in 2024. The launch of Disney+ has been highly successful, bolstering the industry with nearly two million subscribers signing up before the end of 2019.

Amazon’s Prime service, in terms of household penetration, is also performing well, accelerating faster in Canada than it did in the U.S. or the U.K. The proportion of subscribers who are watching Prime’s video content is currently low, although Futuresource does expect this to rise.

As is the case in many territories, Netflix continues to dominate. It remains the market leader with 6.6 million subscribers at the end of last year, showing strong growth despite maturity. However, now at 45% household penetration and with a high proportion of password sharing, Futuresource expects future growth to become more difficult.

Bell Media’s Crave celebrated its fifth year in 2019 with strong growth helped along by HBO content and the final season of “Game of Thrones.” Crave’s peak of 2.7 million subs came during summer 2019, before falling back slightly by year end. Apple TV+ joined the market in November and has generated one million subs by the end of 2019. However, many are free annual subscription due to qualifying device purchases, retention once the free trial expires will be key.

“Despite the short-term industry challenges, next year’s recovery is expected to generate the largest consumer expenditure on video entertainment ever recorded,” Veale said. “What’s more, the growth will continue to be sustained, with an average expansion of 4% each year from 2020 to 2024, achieving nearly CA$13 billion in 2024.”