Canadian Streaming TV Apps: Report Cards!

Television watchers in Canada usually get the short end of the stick when it comes to watching shows, on-demand, online. If we aren’t being restricted because we don’t live on American soil, then we’re being restricted for not having a specific type of account.

To give you an idea of what we’re dealing with, I spent a bit of time with four of the only streaming TV apps that work well for *any* Canadian who has an iOS device or a computer. In addition, I’ve tested out how each of the apps handles AirPlay and what happens to the quality of the video upon doing so; a useful metric for those of us who own an Apple TV.

NOTE: If you want to see the combined report cards, go directly to the Canadian TV Streaming App Report Card page!



I visualized the data into a “report card” of sorts to give you a side-by-side comparison of features and offerings. Here’s how to read the report cards:

Canadian Streaming TV App Report Card Reading Instructions

  1. App Info
    The name of the app and who it is published by. This is also an indicator of which of the major media companies in Canada happens to own this channel and app.
  2. Device Availability
    From left to right: iPhone, iPad, Web, and Airplay. Certain apps are only available on certain platforms. If it is not available, that given platform will be greyed out, such as AirPlay in this instance.
  3. Measurement Minimum
    For the given section, in this case the “Number of Shows,” this is the minimum number for the measurement. For both instances, it will be zero.
  4. Measurement Maximum
    For the given section, in this case the “Number of Shows,” this is the maximum number for the measurement. This is determined by the highest number I encounter while measuring.
  5. Measurement Average
    For the given section, in this case the “Number of Shows,” this is the average number measured across the board.
  6. Video Quality Indicator
    For a given device, I took a look at the video quality available for a user across multiple shows and made my judgment. This is rather subjective, but if it is passable quality (not full of artifacts and jaggies) then it is given a checkmark. An ‘X’ will only be given if it is not available in the first place, and/or it is of very poor quality.
    NOTE: Quality, for most of these apps, was great on iOS devices and so-so on the web at full screen.
  7. Advertisement Usage
    An indicator of when and where advertisements show up, in relation to watching a television episode. Some apps, such as the CTV app, will actually interrupt you as you are using the app and looking for a show to watch.

General Comments

While using these apps, it became increasingly apparent that “on-demand” was a term that could only be loosely used by these apps. There seems to be a general trend, with web content from large media companies, where they will only store a handful of the most recent episodes (if that) and the rest are nowhere to be found. In fact, CTV had the highest show count of the four apps, but had the lowest “average number of episodes available” count because they just had so many shows that had zero video content.

In addition, there can be some misleading content in these apps. For example, I don’t believe a collection of your season finale episodes count as a “show,” CBC. And 245 videos labeled “Season X, Episode Y,” but are actually just 2 minute clips, do not count as episodes, CTV. Not to mention, certain platforms do not show all content actually available; CBC had a handful of shows only available on their website but not on the CBC TV app.

With “on-demand” apps like this, it would be a great way to reduce piracy of your shows while receiving some advertising revenue. However, you are forcing consumers to either purchase DVDs (which I assume is the reason to not put full catalogues online) or to pirate shows. I would suggest a re-evaluation of how content is provided to consumers, because you are only making it more difficult for us.

Additional Notes

As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, I only spent time with these four apps. For the sake of full disclosure, you should know that there should have been a fourth: Rogers Anyplace TV. There were two reasons, on my part, to exclude a valid television streaming service: 1) you need a working Rogers account to access the site, which not all Canadians have. 2) even if you have a Rogers account, the tablet app is restricted from you if you are on a monthly plan.

Rogers Anyplace TV

That made no sense, so they were not included.

In addition, I do not hold any of the copyrights for the app icons used in the report card, they are owned by their respective media companies.

You can also find the data I collected here. It contains all of the shows that can be found in the apps themselves, along with episode numbers, and any notes I may have made along the way.

I am happy to answer any questions that might come up, as well as add analyses of any apps that I may have missed.

Thanks for reading!

NOTE: If you want to see the combined report cards, go directly to the Canadian TV Streaming App Report Card page!


Lessons From Shooting With the SLR

Shooting with a Canon T2iIt has been just about 3 months since I have bought my Canon T2i, and I have done my best to really get to know it better. I have done quite a bit of video in the past, and I have done some video with SLRs as well, but there are just tiny little tips and tricks you figure out along the way.

Here are a few for the beginner videographers to help you along your journey to shooting better video!

Tip #1: Autofocus in video sucks with the T2i.

Seems rather silly, but autofocus on the T2i in video mode is… well, it’s shoddy. It is slow, it is loud, and it opens up your aperture as wide as it can while it does it, and will whitewash your entire video. Instead, get comfortable using manual focus and zooming in to check on the focus. At least that’s how I do it.

Tip #2: Invest in a good microphone.

This is especially important if you have people speaking on camera. I recently filmed an interview with Wes and Darcy of Dealpage, and we were on the roof of my office building on a rather windy day. If I didn’t have a mic, I am pretty sure my audio would consist of bits and pieces of their answers, but mostly the wind blowing right into the mic. And nobody wants to interview the wind.

The mic I use is a Rhodes VideoMic. I’d love to buy a wireless lavalier mic in the future, but for now it isn’t viable for me.

Tip #3: Don’t cheap out on the SD card.

When I took the camera to Austin for SXSW, I had JUST purchased the camera along with this cheapo 32GB SD card from Canada Computers. Worked great for photography, but when you used video mode and you moved in the slightest, you would memory buffer right out. Why? The SD card just wasn’t fast enough. Instead, invest in a card that gets at least 30mb/s and memory buffer issues should be a thing of the past.

I bought the SanDisk Extreme 16GB card, best purchase ever.

Tip #4: Auto settings are versatile enough for most situations, but get comfortable with manual settings.

This is something I have only recently started fiddling with, because for the most part, auto exposure settings were just good enough for anything I was doing. However, setting it to manual is the best way to control image quality and the look and feel of your video. Get some practice down by shooting a still scene and changing the settings until it looks right to you. Soon enough, you’ll get comfortable enough to change the settings on the fly and while on the move.

This has been the largest effect on my work, simply because being able to change the settings at will has given me the control I need to make it look just the way I want it to look.

So there you have it, a few nifty tips I have picked up along the way, and I hope they help you out too!

Awesome Link: OliviaTech

I love discovering useful and/or educational content that is well made. That’s why I was quite happy to discover about OliviaTech, a blog of Olivia Speranza, sharing her tips and tricks about audio, lighting, photography, and videography. This is my favourite kind of site to stumble upon, because you immediately learn a million things.

There’s an even better part: her video tutorials and reviews!

She has a collection of very professionally made videos on YouTube and Vimeo that educate us amateurs about different equipment and techniques. They’re short and they pack a lot of good, educational content.

Thanks Olivia, you’re doing great work!

My Mic Broke, And They Fixed It!

It’s been a while since I have blogged here, but I have been busy traveling, building the business, and creating a list of things to consistently blog about (Hopefully!) So here’s the very first: my RODE VideoMic broke, and they fixed it for free – and fast too!

The Story

While filming something with my good friend Darius Bashar, I accidentally left my camera standing on a tripod in his car while we started driving. All it took was one hard turn for the camera to fall down and for one of my fears to come true: my microphone was broken. In reality, the functionality of the microphone was still intact, it was just now impossible to mount it onto the camera even after countless attempts to superglue the cold shoe pieces back together.

Tape all over.
I went on for months sort of sulking about my loss – the RODE VideoMic is $230 + tax on the regular, and it seemed stupid to buy another just because of the cold shoe. I did the stupidest thing I could think of and resorted to taping the microphone on whenever I was filming something – making me look rather unprofessional and making my tiny camera look even worse than it already was.

Finally, last week while filming with Andrea Liew, she asked me “Why didn’t you just buy another one of those parts you broke? I’m sure you could buy it for a couple bucks, it’s plastic!” After hearing that, I immediately cringed due to my extended stupidity and shot out an email to the Canadian service agent for RODE products: Audio Distributors International.

Within a couple hours, I received back an email from Eric Lasnier telling me they would not only replace the part, but they would do it for free! Well, the package came yesterday with two, count them, TWO cold shoe replacements!

I am quite impressed and appreciative of the prompt response and service that I was given by ADI, and they’ve probably just made a customer for life. Thanks guys, you’ve saved my life (and career!)

The new cold shoe on my mic

ViddYou – Streaming HD Videos for Free!

Recently, I’ve discovered that Vimeo has transitioned into a subscription-based revenue model, or as they call it – Vimeo Plus. I had briefly considered supporting the site that had been so good to me for so long, until I found out they only allow accounts from the US to upgrade. Fantastic, time to migrate to a new service!

Meet: ViddYou

Viddyou is a free and premium personal video service focused on offering the best quality in video, privacy control, and overall ease of use.

There are a few restrictions: HD conversion isn’t fantastic, 250MB limit per upload, and a max of 5 minutes recording time. For a free account, that’s not bad, and it’s only $34.95 per year if I wish to remove those limits.

Here’s a sample – and a free plug for LIVE Conference 2008:

Like it? Try it out! Let me know your experiences!

EDIT: Found a great new feature – under ‘Community’, you can start your own community to post specific videos to. We’ve separated some sensitive videos this way and it seems to be working quite well! Awesome feature!