Online Video Media Comes to Canada

When it comes to technology and product launches, Canadians have gotten used to watching Americans get all the cool toys. We then get to wait weeks or months before it trickles north. Usually in some lesser form. On the bright side, at least we don’t live in Europe or Australia, where those same products arrive years later (the only recent exception to this being the iPhone).

Case in point: Microsoft launched an online service to distribute television shows and movies to Xbox 360 owners. The service was launched in USA on November 22, 2006 via Xbox Live. In October 2005, Apple updated their popular iTunes Music Store to sell music videos and episodes of popular television programs, that could be watched on their updated iPods. I remember being excited about both launches... only to be disappointed when I discovered it wasn’t available in Canada.

Now, a year after the Xbox Video Marketplace went live, and two years after the American iTunes Store update, Canada is finally getting online video distribution. And, as expected, it’s the poorer cousin to the US versions.

The Xbox Video Store officially launched in Canada on December 10th, 2007, with a total of 31 movies available. It’s an odd collection of movies, from Warner Bros., Maple Pictures, and MPI, but it has to start somewhere I suppose. The US store originally launched with 37 movies, but today has somewhere around 300.

The Apple iTunes Store began selling TV shows in it’s Canadian store on December 12th, 2007, though music videos have been available for much longer. The selection, however, is stereotypically unimpressive; Corner Gas, Little Mosque On the Prairie, NHL reruns? Am I supposed to be excited about this? In comparison, the US store has Dexter, Lost, Babylon 5, Firefly, Venture Bros., and a handful of anime.

Recently, Apple is no longer distributing some Universal Media Studios shows (including Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, and House) due to a disagreement over pricing.

It’s still questionable about whether online video sales are sustainable. Or at least wether or not they are sustainable in their current format/prices. And I can only imagine the legal nightmare of getting permission and rights to distribute anything in different countries, especially anything as touchy as digital media. But I must admit to being happy that Canadians at least get to try it out.

Now, we just have to wait for our iPhones...

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Wil Alambre of Visual Lizard