HBO (previously known as HBO Canada) is a Canadian pay television network from Crave (formerly The Movie Network), which is owned by Bell Media. The channel is primarily devoted to original programming and special events sourced from the HBO and Cinemax subscription services in the United States, as well as domestic motion pictures.
|Launched||October 30, 2008|
|Owned by||Bell Media|
|Picture format||1080i HDTV|
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
|Formerly called||HBO Canada (October 2008–June 2019)|
|Replaced||MMore (Eastern Canada)|
Movie Central 4 (Western Canada)
|Sister channel(s)||Crave 1-4|
|Timeshift service||HBO Canada 1|
HBO Canada 2
|Bell TV||Channel 306 (East SD)|
Channel 307 (West SD)
Channel 836 & 1258 (East HD)
Channel 837 & 1259 (West HD)
|Shaw Direct||Channel 231 (East SD)|
Channel 236 (West SD)
Channel 645 (East HD)
Channel 646 (West HD)
|Available on most cable systems||Channel slots vary on each operator|
|Bell Aliant Fibe TV||Channel 361 (East SD)|
Channel 572 (East HD)
Channel 573 (West HD)
|Bell Fibe TV||Channel 306 (East SD)|
Channel 307 (West SD)
Channel 1306 (East HD)
Channel 1307 (West HD)
|Bell MTS||Channel 209 (West SD)|
Channel 210 (East SD)
Channel 1209 (West HD)
Channel 1210 (East HD)
|Optik TV||Channel 400 (West HD)|
Channel 401 (East HD)
Channel 9400 (West SD)
Channel 9401 (East SD)
|SaskTel||Channel 203 (West SD)|
Channel 1210 (West HD)
|VMedia||Channel 302 (East HD)|
Channel 303 (West HD)
|Zazeen||Channel 172 (East HD)|
Channel 173 (West HD)
Although branded distinctly from Crave's other channels, HBO is not available in Canada as a standalone channel; it is only included with a subscription to either the Crave linear pay TV service through a television provider, or the Crave OTT streaming service with the "Movies + HBO" add-on.
Background and launchEdit
Prior to October 2008, much of HBO's programming aired in Canada on the various multiplex channels of both Astral Media's The Movie Network, which at the time was available only in Eastern Canada, and Corus Entertainment's Movie Central, which was offered in Western and Northern Canada. A few HBO programs aired in first-run and/or second window on basic cable specialty channels such as Bravo and Showcase.
On September 22, 2008, The Movie Network and Movie Central announced that the two networks would jointly begin offering a dedicated HBO multiplex channel (in both standard definition and high definition formats), which would debut on October 30. For TMN subscribers, HBO Canada replaced MMore and MMore HD, while for Movie Central subscribers, HBO Canada replaced Movie Central 4 and Movie Central 1 HD. As different multiplex channels of a single pay service cannot have separate sets of owners, Astral and Corus each held de jure full ownership of HBO Canada in the designated service areas of their respectively owned pay services. However, in practice, the channel was jointly managed by both companies and the HBO Canada schedule was common to both services, except that TMN's feed of the channel operated on an Eastern Time Zone schedule while Movie Central fed the same programming two hours later on Mountain Time.
Although much of HBO's programming had already aired in Canada as discussed above, many other programs from the network were not previously widely available in Canada; the new channel was created with the intention to fill the gap. Original programming from HBO's sister service Cinemax have also been broadcast at times, particularly action series that Cinemax has aired since broadening its series programming content to include mainstream original series in August 2011 (prior to this, Cinemax's series programming consisted only of softcore pornographic programs).
Some HBO series already carried by TMN or Movie Central were initially simulcast on their respective main channels, but shortly thereafter HBO programming became exclusive to HBO Canada, as opposed to any of the other multiplex channels of TMN or Movie Central.
A selection of Canadian films and series also airs to satisfy Canadian content requirements, and programs from other U.S. sources to which TMN and Movie Central both own rights (such as HBO and Cinemax competitor Showtime) may air as well at times. However, few feature films that had their original theatrical release in countries outside of Canada air on the channel, even when those movies air on HBO's main channel in the United States.
While under the joint management of TMN and Movie Central, the two timeshifted HBO Canada feeds (East/West), in both standard-definition and high-definition, were available nationally to those television providers who wish to carry them; they both remain available nationally under the restructured national TMN service (discussed below). The Movie Network and some service providers refer to the applicable out-of-region feed as HBO Canada 2 on their websites; other service providers simply distinguish them as East and West feeds.
Takeover by Bell, expanded rightsEdit
On March 4, 2013, the Competition Bureau approved the takeover of Astral Media by Bell Media. Bell filed a new application for the proposed takeover with the CRTC on March 6, 2013; the CRTC approved the merger on June 27, 2013, effectively turning over control of HBO Canada in Eastern Canada to Bell.
Until 2014, HBO Canada was in many cases only permitted to offer current seasons of HBO programming on its linear channels or on-demand, as second window rights to older seasons continued to be sold to basic-cable specialty channels such as Showcase. In September, Bell and Corus announced a new deal whereby HBO Canada can now offer all episodes of all currently-produced HBO scripted programming through its various platforms.
Simultaneously, Bell announced a separate deal for rights to the "off-air" (i.e., series no longer in production) HBO catalog "for future exploitation", similar to HBO's U.S. streaming deal with Amazon Video. Bell later announced that the off-air HBO library would become part of its then-upcoming streaming service CraveTV.
On November 19, 2015, Corus Entertainment announced its plans to exit the pay TV business, agreeing to shut down Movie Central in exchange for a C$211 million payment from Bell, which announced plans to relaunch TMN as a national service. As a result, Bell took over full operations of HBO Canada once the changeover occurred on March 1, 2016. Bell also announced a further expansion to its agreement with HBO, giving it exclusive rights to distribute all current and library HBO programming on any of its linear, VOD, and digital platforms.
On November 1, 2018, Bell announced the merger and rebranding of TMN and CraveTV as Crave. HBO first-run programming will become available to Crave streaming subscribers via its new "Crave + Movies + HBO" subscription tier, making its content available on a direct-to-consumer basis for the first time in Canada.
In early June 2019, without fanfare, the linear channel rebranded from "HBO Canada" to simply "HBO". The change aligns the channel's branding with that of Bell Media's other pay channel operating under a licensed brand, namely the Canadian version of Starz, and with the branding of programming from HBO (and other partners) on the Crave streaming platform. However, there were no immediate changes to the linear channel's programming mix.
Video on demandEdit
Initially, most service providers included HBO Canada programming under a "HBO Canada On Demand" section, separated from TMN or Movie Central's main VOD folder. This section included feature films, original and imported programming, and special behind-the-scenes features including interviews. HBO Canada On Demand's rotating program selection incorporated select new titles that are added each Friday, alongside existing program titles held over from the previous one to two weeks.
With the changeover from TMN to Crave, on most cable/IPTV providers HBO programming is now part of the "Crave Movies + HBO" folder (as distinguished from the "Crave" folder which holds programming available on the Crave streaming service's base tier).
HBO Go CanadaEdit
TMN Go was discontinued in November 2018, with customers instructed to use the Crave apps and website instead. HBO/Cinemax content is now part of Crave's HBO Collection, and the "HBO Go" brand is no longer used.
HBO Canada carries the vast majority of original programming produced or distributed by HBO (U.S.), and certain original programs produced for Cinemax (such as Strike Back). From time to time, this has included older HBO movies and series no longer available through the American service, including Mr. Show with Bob and David. In the vast majority of cases, newly produced programs are carried day-and-date with HBO in the U.S., though several notable programs such as Going Clear and Lemonade aired several months after their American premieres.
HBO Canada did not air Vice News Tonight at launch; the newscast instead aired on the now-defunct Canadian version of Viceland despite HBO Canada airing the main weekly Vice series. It picked up the daily series in fall 2017 alongside sister channel Much, later replaced by MTV.
Notable HBO original programming not seen on HBO Canada includes Sesame Street (to which HBO acquired the U.S. first-run rights in 2016), which continues to air in Canada on Treehouse TV and in second-run on American PBS stations.
While HBO boxing coverage was carried on HBO Canada until its cancellation by HBO U.S. in October 2018, several other HBO Sports programs are not seen on the channel, including Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and Hard Knocks. Some of these exclusions may be due to issues involving leagues or other rightsholders which sometimes retain international distribution rights. For example, the Canadian rights to 24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic were sold separately by the NHL to Rogers-owned Sportsnet. Hard Knocks, co-produced with the NFL, is believed to be in a similar situation.
For a time following the launch of HBO Canada, many of the Canadian series produced by The Movie Network (and previously Movie Central) began to air primarily on the channel. Nonetheless, these shows were generally indicated in introductory bumpers as being TMN and/or Movie Central original programs (as opposed to HBO Canada original programming).
Current and upcomingEdit
- Just For Laughs Presents (comedy specials – various titles)
- Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures
- Call Me Fitz
- Funny as Hell
- Good Dog
- Good God
- Hip-Hop Evolution
- Less Than Kind
- Living in Your Car
- Sensitive Skin
- Sports on Fire
- The Yard
- What Would Sal Do?
HBO Canada airs a large selection of original films and documentaries produced by or for HBO, as well as Canadian films from various distributors to which Crave holds domestic broadcast rights. The latter is required as part of Crave's Canadian content obligations for its pay TV licence, which much be met separately by each of the service's linear multiplex channels.
The channel does not generally air any non-Canadian theatrically-released films. However, since 2016, the vast majority of theatrical films aired by HBO and Cinemax in the U.S. – specifically those released theatrically by Warner Bros. Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios, and 20th Century Fox and their respective labels and subsidiaries – have aired in Canada on TMN/Crave's other linear channels.
- Astral/Corus press release, September 22, 2008.
- BCE takeover of Astral OK’d by Competition Bureau[permanent dead link], The Montreal Gazette (via The Canadian Press), March 4, 2013.
- Astral and Bell Comment on New Acquisition Application to CRTC Archived 2015-10-02 at the Wayback Machine, Broadcaster Magazine, March 6, 2013.
- CRTC approves Bell-Astral merger, CBC News, June 27, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
- Bell Media (2014-09-04). "Bell Media and Corus Entertainment Sign Landmark Deal with HBO". Retrieved 2014-09-06.
- Bell Media (2014-09-04). "Bell Media Acquires HBO's Iconic Programming Library". Retrieved 2014-09-06.
- "Bell launches Project Latte streaming service with entire HBO catalogue". CBCNews.ca. 2014-10-30. Retrieved 2014-11-01.
- The Canadian Press staff (2015-11-19). "Bell expanding TMN into national pay TV service; to be sole operator of HBO Canada". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2015-11-19.
- "Bell Media and HBO Sign Historic Agreement Bringing Canadians Unprecedented Access to HBO Programming". Bell Media. 2015-11-19. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "All-New Crave Features HBO Collection". TVCanada. 2018-11-01. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
- "HBO Goes Direct to Consumer in Canada to Challenge Netflix". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
- "Crave Schedule". Retrieved June 8, 2019.
- "The Movie Network Launches Three Video Streaming Services". Broadcaster Magazine. February 28, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- "Big-Buzz Documentary GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF Premieres September 6 on HBO Canada". Bell Media Press Room. August 19, 2015. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
- "Beyoncé's Lemonade lands at HBO Canada". Montreal Gazette. June 23, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
- "Sesame Street". TreehouseTV.com. Retrieved 2016-06-28.
- "Sportsnet secures rights to '24/7′ documentary" (Press release). Sportsnet. 2013-04-07. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
- Whittock, Jesse (2016-03-02). "Throop: TV, Family staying strong for eOne". Television Business International.