Warner Bros. Discovery Inks Exclusive Content Distribution Deal With Canada’s Bell Media

Warner Bros. Discovery and Canada’s Bell Media May 2 announced a long-term and exclusive licensing agreement that makes Bell’s subsidiary Crave the home of programming from the studio for years to come.

The agreement also feeds CTV, CTV.ca, the CTV app, and Bell Media’s suite of specialty channels. The deal ranges across many parts of Warner Bros. Discovery’s portfolio, including HBO and Max Originals; the DC universe; the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; new cable series; library television series; pay and post-pay window rights for Warner Bros.  films; and library films.

The deal also includes French-language rights for HBO and Max Originals, Pay 1 films, the “Friends” franchise, the “Harry Potter” collection of films, and other select content.

“[This is] a true landmark deal for the Canadian media industry,” Karine Moses, SVP of content development and news, and vice chair for Québec for Bell, said in a statement.

The distribution deal continues WBD CEO David Zaslav’s goal of expanding content distribution beyond streaming video.

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“This new multi-year deal will ensure Canadians have full and easy access to our shows and movies and the new programming coming from HBO and Max,” said David Decker, president of content Sales at Warner Bros. Discovery.

New Max Original programming comes to Crave, expanding on the licensing agreement announced in 2019. This includes the recently announced “Harry Potter” series, and titles from the DC Universe, including the recently announced drama “The Penguin” starring Colin Farrell.

Crave remains the exclusive Canadian home of new, current, and library HBO programming, including recently announced “Game of Thrones” prequel “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Night,” drama series “The Sympathizer,” “True Detective: Night Country,” and “The Regime,” and returning series, including “The Last of Us,” “House of the Dragon” and “The White Lotus,” among others.

The deal includes Warner Bros. library series such as “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory” for Crave, CTV.ca, and the CTV app.

Movies coming to Crave and CTV following their theatrical and home entertainment windows include The Flash, Dune: Part Two, Magic Mike’s Last Dance, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Library titles include “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the “Harry Potter” collection, Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy, Goodfellas, The Shining, The Departed and Inception, among others.

Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’ Tops TV Time Charts

Netflix’s “Bridgerton” was the top rising show and the top binge on the TV Time charts the week ended Dec. 27.

The romance series “Bridgerton” hit screens on Christmas. Produced by Shonda Rhimes and based on Julia Quinn’s bestsellers, the series follows eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family looking for love and happiness in London high society.

Perennial ABC favorite “Grey’s Anatomy” took the silver on the binge chart while Netflix’s “Tiny Pretty Things,” which hit screens Dec. 14 and is based on the book set in the world of an elite ballet academy, took the bronze.

No. 2 among rising shows for the week was the Canadian series “Letterkenny,” which debuted on Crave Christmas day in Canada and in the United States the following day on Hulu. The show follows the residents of Letterkenny, a small rural community in Ontario. Taking the third spot on the rising show chart was Netflix’s “Sweet Home,” which debuted Dec. 18. In the horror series, as humans turn into savage monsters and wreak terror, one troubled teen and his apartment neighbors fight to survive.

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TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the service. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The network displayed is the network where the show first aired (e.g. “Friends” on NBC).

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended Dec. 27 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Bridgerton” (Netflix) — 3.03%
  2. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.82%
  3. “Tiny Pretty Things” (Netflix) — 1.76%
  4. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.72%
  5. “Modern Family” (ABC) — 1.41%
  6. “The Office” (NBC) — 1.41%
  7. “One Piece” (Fuji TV) — 1.40%
  8. “The Mandelorian” (Disney+) — 1.38%
  9. “Attack on Titan” (NHK) — 1.37%
  10. “Gossip Girl” (The CW) — 1.26%


Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended Dec. 27 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Bridgerton” (Netflix) — 100%
  2. “Letterkenny” (Crave) — 83.9%
  3. “Sweet Home” (Netflix) — 64.3%
  4. “American Dad” (TBS) — 56.7%
  5. “neXt” (Fox) — 56.2%
  6. “The Legend of Korra” (Nickelodeon) — 39.1%
  7. “Wish You: Your Melody in My Heart” (YouTube/Viki) — 37.8%
  8. “I May Destroy You” (HBO) — 37%
  9. “El Cid” (Amazon) — 36%
  10. “Masterchef IT” (Sky Uno) — 33.3%

Netflix Pushed Canadian SVOD Spend Past $1 Billion in 2018

With Canada Netflix’s highest household penetration market, it’s no surprise consumer spending on subscription streaming video across the northern border surpassed CA$1 billion in 2018, according to new data from Futuresource Consulting. Overall spend on video entertainment in Canada remained flat at CA$11.3 billion.

By 2022, video entertainment in Canada is expected to be a CA$12 billion market, with SVOD carving out significant market share. In 2018, pay-TV accounted for 74% of the market, with SVOD and box office accounting for 9% each. However, by 2022 consumer spend on SVOD will be twice that of box office and therefore accounting for 17% of all video entertainment spend.

“SVOD spend broke through the CA$1 billion mark in 2018, up 33% with 11.3 million subscriptions,” Tristan Veale, market analyst at Futuresource Consulting, said in a statement. “This was driven by market leader Netflix, which reached 6.3 million subscribers, despite a steep price hike in 2018.”

The research firm said 58% of Canadian households have at least one over-the-top video subscription, with household penetration reaching 69% by 2022 — equal with pay-TV.

Growth was driven in part by Bell Media’s revamped Crave SVOD service which saw a nearly doubling of subs in 2018 – thanks in part to assimilation of pay-TV operator’s The Movie Network channel; in addition to Amazon Prime Video.

The rise in SVOD spend contributed to 8% drop in transactional (packaged media and digital) home entertainment revenue to CA$853 million.

Futuresource said consumers are buying more digital content digitally than renting — with EST spending projected to surpass transactional VOD and on-demand pay-TV by 2022.

Indeed, Canadians are buying more digital movies with nearly 7 million EST transactions recorded in 2018 — up 18% from 2017. Apple iTunes continues to drive EST sales in Canada, which accounted for over two thirds of spend across movies and TV content. Other services include Google Play Movies and Cinemax.

“There are an estimated 1.3 million Apple TVs in use in Canada, equivalent to 10% of households,” said Veale. “This means consumers have an easy way to watch premium content on a big screen, driving increased buying.”

Notably, Amazon has yet to commit to digital rental/sales of movies and TV shows in Canada, in addition to France, Italy and Spain.

“When it does launch, it could be a catalyst to propel these markets to the next level,” Veale said.