Canadian TV-over-Internet Providers
If you are thinking about scrapping your current TV service provider and switching to getting all your drama and comedy over the Internet, you have to weigh what you can and cannot replace. Free channels are the best, of course, except for the fact that you are going to see a lot of ads. Subscriptions give you access to some great television, with no commercials, but at a monthly price. Authentication is the worst, because you have to have those channels as part of a TV package over cable, DSL or satellite. (If you would like to see the full list all Canadian content distributors, click here.)
With free access to a TV provider’s content, you typically do not need a login or a subscription to watch their shows. As free over-the-air broadcast channels, CTV, City, CBC and Global do not risk any subscriber revenue by streaming online for free. However, they do show commercials, unless you pay a subscription fee (like CBC’s $4.99/month Gem). And CBC is also requiring a login for some of their free content, to collect basic demographic information on viewers and sell more lucrative targeted video ads.
As the name implies, subscriptions require you to pay a monthly fee to access their content. This is the model that all channels will transition to eventually, as fewer and fewer viewers subscribe to traditional cable/DSL/satellite packages. You can see all pricing information here, and even calculate what your monthly bill will be (before taxes).
Authentication is the broadcast industry’s way of offering you streaming content over the Internet for free, provided you are a paying subscriber of their TV product (whether that’s through cable, DSL or satellite). This is really a transition step before channels start offering you their shows directly over the Internet for a monthly subscription fee (as CBS is doing now in Canada with CBS All Access). You must have a login/password for your TV provider’s site to see authenticated content.