Bell Canada announces online video service to challenge Netflix

George Cope, the CEO of Bell Canada (NYSE: BCE), on Monday announced that the telco will launch its own "made in Canada" online video service as part of its pending $3.4 billion acquisition of Astral Media.

Like Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), the service would allow consumers to access various pieces of content, including Canadian and international movies from Astral's pay TV services, such as HBO Canada and The Movie Network, in addition to traditional news, sports and entertainment that its Bell Media unit currently offers.

The announcement was made during a public hearing with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which is reviewing the Astral Media deal.

Cope said the service would be available "to all Canadians" via any cable, satellite or IPTV provider, according to an article in The Telegram.

While he did not reveal when the service would go live, Cope emphasized during the hearing that Canada needs a way to effectively compete with foreign OTT video providers like Netflix, to which an estimated 10 percent of Canadian consumers currently subscribe.

"The Canadian system needs companies with the scale to compete against foreign content companies like Netflix, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and (Nasdaq: AMZN)," he said. "With scale, Canadian companies can make the investments in Canadian content and technology required to go head-to-head with these well-financed global competitors."

Despite Cope's contention that Canadian operators need to stay competitive, Bell rival Telus said in a filing with the CRTC last month that if the deal were to be approved it would give BCE a "monopoly advantage" of 37.6 percent of Canada's viewing audience. BCE countered Telus' claims, saying that it would have only 33.5 percent of the English language market, which is under CRTC's 35 percent threshold.

Telus, of course, is not the only service provider opposed to the Bell/Astral Media merger. The Say No to Bell colation consisting of Quebecor, Cogeco and Eastlink have also been outspoken about their concerns on the new marriage.

For more:
- The Telegram has this article

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