By Sahil Patel
Codenamed “Project Latte,” the service, which will go live this month, has already built an impressive library of current and past TV shows that it will offer at launch. Every season of “Seinfeld” and “The West Wing” will be available on the service, for instance, as will past seasons of current shows like “Orphan Black,” “Masters of Sex,” “Arrow,” “The Flash,” and “Doctor Who.” HBO’s entire off-air library will also be available exclusively to Latte customers.
But those are licensing deals covering libraries and previous seasons. For current-season episodes of popular TV shows, Latte won’t be able to help you — unless it’s a show produced by Bell Media. The broadcaster just announced a new “first-look” program for the service, which will offer new episodes of select TV shows 24 hours before their network TV premieres.
Bell Media productions selected for this program include “Saving Hope,” “Motive,” and “Spun Out.” “Corner Gas: The Movie,” a feature-length film based on the popular comedy series of the same name from CTV (which is owned by Bell Media), will also be available on Project Latte before its TV debut. The film makes its theatrical debut in Canada tomorrow.
Allowing people to sample new episodes/shows on digital platforms ahead of their TV premieres has become a common practice both in the US and North of the Border. If Bell Media wants to seriously compete with Netflix Canada, which has at least 3 million subscribers according to July report from Digital TV Research, then it needs to incentivize people to come to its service. Having content that they want to watch, before it’s available anywhere else — including TV — certainly helps.
The only wrinkle? Unlike Netflix, or the homegrown rival Shomi, Project Latte will only available to those who already have a TV subscription. (In other words: Even when it’s not TV, it’s still TV.)
In total, Project Latte will be home to more than 10,000 hours of TV programming and 320 different non-kids titles at launch. It will be available online and across mobile and connected-TV devices including game consoles — initially as an add-on for customers of Telus Optik TV, Bell Fibe TV, and Bell Aliant FibreOp TV.