Canadian Game Of Thrones fans who have been trying to find ways to work around Bell Media’s required $20 per-month subscription fee to access HBO networks, and watch Game Of Thrones in Canada, will soon be able to catch the entire first season, completely unedited, on CTV with their basic cable package.
While Americans have the option of paying $14.99 per month for HBO Now, the on-demand streaming service is unavailable in Canada, leaving Canadian fans of Game Of Thrones and other HBO shows stuck with two undesirable options: either pay for the top-tier cable package offered by Bell Media, which owns the Canadian rights to HBO content, or illegally access shows through pirating websites.
In order to receive HBO, Bell Media requires consumers to purchase a TV package that includes other lesser-known premium cable channels that many people do not want or need to receive, rather than offering HBO a la carte. And while pirating may sound like an attractive and, obviously, free option, it does have its downsides. In addition to the moral issues with illegally streaming content, doing so can place the viewer’s computer in jeopardy of being hacked, and the actual video quality of pirated content is often grainy and pixelated–far from the HD quality HBO broadcasts in.
Bell Media’s decision to air the first season of Game Of Thrones on CTV can be attributed to a number of reasons. The decision to air the season can be seen as an attempt to appease angry Canadian HBO fans, who angrily voice their displeasure with Bell Media every time a new season of Game Of Thrones airs and they are unable to watch episodes as they air. Bell Media may be using the show as an opportunity to give viewers a “free trial” of the content they would be able to watch on a nightly basis if they subscribe to Bell’s top-tier cable package.
However, airing just the first season of the show so long after its original run may be too little, too late for disgruntled fans. Canadian consumer advocate Meghan Sali believes that airing the first season on basic cable is simply not enough to make a difference in the public’s perception of Bell Media. She called the decision “piecemeal, throw-you-a-bone,” and shared her opinion that airing the first season of the show may be counter-productive to Bell Media’s goals, stating “I could actually see this potentially fanning the flames.”
Regardless, it may come as a surprise to us in the United States that the notoriously graphic, adult-content riddled Game Of Thrones will be aired completely un-edited on basic cable, a decision that would never happen in the U.S. The show will also air with limited commercial interruption, perhaps to bring the viewing experience closer to that of HBO and other premium cable networks, which don’t need sponsors for their content, and perhaps because it would be hard to find conventional, TV ad-buying corporations that would air commercials during such a graphic program.
For our Canadian friends, the air dates are as follows:
Monday, Aug. 8: Episode 1 – Winter is Coming
Tuesday, Aug. 9: Episode 2 – The Kingsroad
Wednesday, Aug. 10: Episode 3 – Lord Snow
Thursday, Aug. 11: Episode 4 – Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things
Friday, Aug. 12: Episode 5 – The Wolf and the Lion
Monday, Aug. 15: Episode 6 – A Golden Crown
Tuesday, Aug. 16: Episode 7 – You Win or You Die
Wednesday, Aug. 17: Episode 8 – The Pointy End
Thursday, Aug. 18: Episode 9 – Baelor
Friday, Aug. 19: Episode 10 – Fire and Blood