U.S. only: Streaming platforms not available in Canada
John Goodman's "Alpha House" is available on platforms we can't access in Canada. (REUTERS file photo)
I experienced a beautiful family moment this past weekend.
After spending the past year raving about Netflix to my parents, I visited their house and noticed my mother sit down at her laptop, pull out her credit card and sign up for an account. They are now consumers of streaming entertainment, and I'm a proud son. My mom's probably burning through episodes of Orange is the New Black at this very moment.
And while they haven't cut the cable cord yet, I know they've thought about it. Do we have enough streaming options here in Canada - services like Netflix, Crackle and TMN GO - to say goodbye to traditional television forever? As readers of this column have often pointed out, it seems like Americans always get the better end of the deal, whether it comes to a larger Netflix collection, a bigger iTunes catalogue or a greater variety of streaming services. While tech-savvy readers know how to find loopholes, which often start with using a VPN service to fudge their Canadian addresses, here are a few platforms that the rest of us are missing out on:
AMAZON PRIME INSTANT VIDEO
This week, HBO's recent deal with Amazon's streaming service comes into play, which brings much of HBO's acclaimed back catalog - including shows like The Wire, The Sopranos and Eastbound & Down - to Amazon Prime Instant Video. The platform, which comes with a $99 yearly subscription to Amazon Prime in the U.S., seems to rate below Netflix in terms of content selection, but the HBO agreement and original shows from Amazon Studios - such as the political comedy Alpha House, starring John Goodman - might make it a worthwhile investment. Are there plans to bring this to Canada, though? Nope.
For current stuff, Hulu Plus is the place to be. American viewers praise this service for offering the latest episodes of popular shows that are currently airing on TV, especially compared to Netflix or Amazon. And U.S. cinephiles have access to a number of classic films with the platform's selection of Criterion Collection movies. In terms of original content, Hulu Plus subscribers can watch The Awesomes, the animated superhero show created by Late Night host Seth Meyers and featuring the voices many of his former Saturday Night Live pals, including Bill Hader, Kenan Thompson and Taran Killam. But don't fret about missing out on Hulu Plus that much, because despite the monthly fee of $7.99, it still shows commercials. We've already got Crackle for that, right?
I was thoroughly impressed during my first experience with a Redbox movie rental kiosk - the selection was decent and the price, at $1.50 a DVD for one day, felt very reasonable. Plus, the feeling of renting a hard-copy movie is starting to feel charmingly vintage, isn't it? But in the U.S., Redbox combines old-school and new-school by offering a streaming service called Redbox Instant, which gives customers unlimited access to an online movie catalogue - along with four credits for DVDs at the kiosks - for $8 a month. Unfortunately, and I know you're used to hearing this by now, we can't access that deal here. I guess Mom and Dad are stuck with Netflix for now.