When we think of streaming services, the first names that come to mind are often streaming giants, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Disney+. This comes with little surprise, as these are some of the most popular streaming services worldwide.
Nonetheless, the popularity of these platforms has resulted in a massive investment in streaming on a global scale. As a result, there are now countless options available based on your location and preferences. In fact, nowadays, streaming goes beyond tv shows and films, with sports streaming platforms, such as DAZN or NBA League Pass, for example, entering the market. In this sense, one of the most popular non-mainstream options in Canada is Crave.
Crave is a video streaming platform founded and based in Canada, owned by Bell Media. The on-demand platform launched in 2014 as a low-cost streaming service, however, since then it has shifted its operations towards premium content. Crave offers a diverse catalogue that includes content acquired from American networks, but also major studios, including WarnerMedia, Paramount and Lionsgate. In addition, Crave also produces original content and, has more recently, expanded into the French language market.
In fact, this decision follows the logic of many entertainment outlets which are aiming to deliver more personalised home entertainment options in Canada. This strategy was first developed by CBC (The Canadian Broadcast Corporation), the oldest broadcasting network in Canada, which has historically sought to serve the Canadian public, by focusing on its internal market. Crave is now attempting to appeal to the Canadian public in similar terms, but they are not the only ones. For instance, the gambling industry has also strongly invested in this idea, with online casinos featuring exclusive offers and games in Canada. But that’s not all, gamblers can also access live dealer casino games in Canada, which feature real dealers via live stream. Such games include poker, baccarat, craps and roulette.
While Crave has been around for some time now, the expansion of the Canadian streaming market has resulted in an increasing number of platforms entering Canada. In its early stages, Crave was only made available as an add-on for subscribers of television service providers owned by Bell Canada. However, less than a year later Bell announced that Crave would transition to an over-the-top service available to all users.
Since then, Crave has become the number one domestic video streaming platform in Canada, topping other services such as Club Illico and CBC GEM. Nonetheless, following the drastic increase in digital viewership in Canada, Crave has struggled to compete with bigger platforms. As of 2022, it is estimated that Netflix, the leading streaming platform in Canada has 19 million active viewers, while Amazon Prime Video totals 13.3 million. Simultaneously, Crave is just short of 7 million, with an estimated 6.8 million active viewers. According to eMarketer Crave could be looking to reach 7.3 million viewers by 2025. Nonetheless, Crave’s percentage of digital video viewers in Canada is expected to drop due to the considerable growth of other streaming platforms.
Overall, these estimates are quite positive and reflect Bell Media’s successful strategies. This is particularly true when it comes to their partnership with WarnerMedia, which has allowed them to reach an agreement to feature a substantial part of HBO’s catalog on their platform. Moreover, Crave has also secured the rights to most HBO Max programs, which has stopped the streaming giant from entering the Canadian market. In turn, this means that some of HBO’s biggest titles, including The Big Bang Theory, South Park, Doctor Who and Friends are all available on Crave.
Overall, while the streaming wars in Canada are becoming more complex due to the increasing number of streaming platforms operating in the country, Crave is a good example of how Canadian based-services can still have a relevant role in delivering personalized high-quality content.