Your Definitive Guide to Streaming Sites in Canada

Can you even get Hulu in Canada? How much does Crave cost with all the good HBO and Showtime shows? And why is it all so confusing?! We have answers

(Illustration: Elham Numan)

Remember a few years back, when everyone got Netflix and dumped their cable packages, excited by the prospect of the one-stop shopping experience? All the TV shows and movies in one place for an affordable price: Revolutionary!

Sadly, those days were short-lived. Streaming sites have become all the rage, with new ones popping up seemingly every other day—and companies like Disney and Apple launching their own platforms with original content and starring big-name stars, and sites like Amazon and Kanopy hosting massive back catalogues of classic films and TV shows. But are all of these streaming services available in Canada? And do they offer the same content as our friends to the south have access to?

Luckily for you, I’ve pulled together a handy guide of the biggest streaming platforms right now, including what they cost, some of the hottest content they offer and what Canadians can *actually* access. Aren’t I the nicest?

These streaming services are available in Canada:

Netflix

Available in Canada? Yes!

Cost: Basic Plan$9.99 CAD a month (one device at a time, no 4K), Standard Plan, $13.99 CAD a month (two devices at a time, 4K) and Premium, $16.99 CAD a month (four devices, HD and Ultra HD).

Is it worth your money? As the granddaddy of original streamed content, there is a ton to watch on this platform, with a deluge of new material every month. Ever heard of “Netflix and chill?” Well, you don’t make your way into the cultural lexicon if you’re not somewhat ubiquitous. So, yeah it’s probably worth your cash, especially if you have an unofficial family account.

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: The most buzz-worthy original shows currently on the platform include You, The Witcher, BoJack Horseman, Big Mouth, GLOW, Stranger Things, When They See Us and Mindhunter, but you can also watch syndicated classics like Friends, Family Guy and The Office here For movies, 2020 Oscar hopefuls The Irishman and Marriage Story were actually made in-house, while many popular classics like Clueless, Scarface and Dirty Dancing can be found here.

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Amazon Prime Video

Available in Canada? Yes!

Cost: $7.99 CAD a month or $79.99 a year.

Is it worth your money? That depends how much you need original content—or free, fast delivery of, well, almost everything. Unlike Netflix, Amazon has been a bit more reserved in terms of commissioning original content. But they do have a considerable library of tried-and-true classics from other studios, with everything from Lost to Happy Endings to The First Wives Club, and signing up with them means you’ll also get free shipping on Amazon products. Watch something fun *and* get that bulk order of dish soap, right to your door!

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Fleabag, Transparent and Homecoming are probably the streamer’s biggest original hits, with more action-oriented content like The Boys and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan attracting recent attention. Original flicks include the recent Suspiria remake and Oscar winner Manchester by the Sea.

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Crave

Available in Canada? Yes! For that matter, it’s available exclusively in Canada, baby.

Cost: $9.99 CAD a month or $99.90 a year for the basic plan. To get Movies + HBO, it’s an additional $9.99 a month on top of the basic plan, and to get Starz content, it’s an additional $5.99 on top of the basic plan.

Is it worth your money? I’ll get into it more below when I tackle HBO Max, but Crave is basically the home to a considerable bulk of popular U.S. shows from HBO, Starz, Comedy Central and Showtime. As annoying as it can be not to have immediate access to platforms like HBO Max or Hulu (and to spend $26 on one platform, let’s be honest), having one central site with the biggest shows makes searching for content much easier. Plus, the price is steep but you’d probably be satisfied with just subscribing to Crave and its Movies + HBO and Starz add-ons.

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: Again, it depends on your tier of plan, but even the basic one includes most Showtime programming, shows broadcast on Bell Media channels and Crave Originals like Letterkenney and New Eden. And the more money you fork over, the more options you get, with much of the HBO and Hulu content I list below, plus a healthy library of recent Hollywood flicks.

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Disney+

Available in Canada? Yes!

Cost: $8.99 CAD a month, or $89.99 a year.

Is it worth your money? That’s a yes from me. Remember when you were a kid and your favourite movies would go back into the Disney Vault? And you’d be devastated, hoping against hope that Bambi would be released again in your lifetime, confronting your own mortality for the first time? Well, have no fear, the vault has been opened with Disney+, providing you (and your kids) with a century’s worth of family-friendly content—live-action and animated, new and old.

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: Considering that Disney owns about three quarters of the creative intellectual properyt out there (including Lucasfilm, Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic and 20 Century Fox’s back catalogue), you can find most of the year’s biggest films here. But in terms of original content, the rollout has been much slower, with Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian (and Baby Yoda) getting the only real buzz.

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Apple TV+

Available in Canada? Yes!

Cost: $5.99 CAD a month, or free for a year with purchase of an Apple product.

Is it worth your money? Jury’s out on this one. Apple decided they wanted to enter the original content game and threw a bunch of money (and probably iPads, I don’t know) at stars and creators to come on board. The first wave of programming hasn’t been super buzz-worthy, but they’re a billion dollar company with a hobby, so they have time to perfect things. Be warned: Unlike Amazon and Netflix, this platform won’t carry licensed content from other studios, so you’ll only have Apple TV+ content here.

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: The Morning Show (starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston), Dickinson, See (with Jason Momoa), Servant, Truth Be Told, the Ghostwriter reboot and more.

Read this next: What’s New on Netflix Canada in January

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CBS All Access

Available in Canada? Yes!

Cost: $5.99 CAD a month.

Is it worth your money? A fledgling streamer, CBS All Access is a second home for all the CBS Network’s content, plus a few originals. So, if you love your network procedurals and broad sitcoms, this is probably money well spent for you, Grandma.

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: The Good Fight, Big Brother and Star Trek: Discovery are the streamer’s original series, with another highly anticipated Star Trek series (Picard) in the pipeline.  

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YouTube Premium

Available in Canada? Yes!

Cost: $11.99 CAD a month.

Is it worth your money? To be honest, I’m not sure (but I’m also over thirty). Kids these days love the YouTube, and this version is ad-free, with exclusive content by the popular stars of the site, offline playback and access to YouTube Music.

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: Cobra Kai, Step Up: High Water, Kedi. I legit have no idea what these are, but they’re obviously very popular, so if you’re into that kind of thing, give it a go, and then come back and explain it to me so I can look cool.

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Kanopy

Available in Canada? Yes, in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Vancouver Island.

Cost: Free, with your public library card.

Is it worth your money? While other streamers are more focused on their own bottom line, this Australian-based platform partners with public libraries, sharing film collections with a focus on education. Now, that might *sound* boring, but it’s actually more akin to your classic video store rental place, with the Criterion Collection available (hello, Rashomon!) and oodles of other cinema classics. And it’s all free, with an eight-film limit. Worth it.

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: Now, I’m a film nerd, so having access to Ingmar Bergman, French New Wave and silent films is an incentive for me (don’t laugh, and yes, I wear turtlenecks), but for those of you more interested in contemporary stuff, Call Me By Your Name, Her Smell, Boyhood and My Friend Dahmer are all available, with new titles added often.

 

Read this next: These Were Netflix Canada’s Most-Watched TV Shows and Movies of 2019

 streaming services in canada: the cbc gem logo

CBC Gem

Available in Canada? But of course.

Cost: FREE, or $4.99 CAD a month for a premium membership that serves your content ad-free, plus gives you access to streaming news.

Is it worth your money? Duh. This is the online home for all of the Canadian broadcaster’s content, like Schitt’s Creek, plus homegrown movies and some British content (Catastrophe!) for all of you Anglophiles out there.

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: Schitt’s Creek? Baroness Von Sketch Show? Kim’s Convenience? Anne with an E? And films like Last Night, Away From Her and Don’t Talk to Irene? What can I say? Our country is talented.

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Hayu

Available in Canada? Yes!

Cost: $5.99 CAD a month

Is it worth your money? I feel like I’ve done reality television a bit of a disservice in this piece by overlooking them; most of the platforms I’ve discussed do include popular reality shows, from Big Brother on CBS All Access, to Drag Race and The Voice on Crave, to Queer Eye on Netflix. But if you’re a true reality TV nut, then this is the platform for you, with more than 200+ shows and same-day availability on U.S. series. Put on those sweatpants, pour a glass of moscato and get to judging!

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: The entire Real Housewives franchise, Vanderpump RulesProject Runway, Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Dance Moms, Blind Date, and classics like The Hills, Jersey Shore and The Simple Life. 

 

These streaming services are *not* available in Canada—but here’s where to access most of their content:

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HBO Max/HBO Go/HBO Now

Available in Canada? No!

Cost: While HBO Go/HBO Now/HBO Max aren’t available in Canada, their content is, via Crave’s Movies + HBO add-on ($9.99 CAD monthly or $99.90 for the year).

Is it worth your money? Bell Media has signed an exclusive deal to all HBO content for the foreseeable future (as well most content from Starz, Showtime and Comedy Central), meaning that Crave (with a monthly add-on) is the only place to access your favourite shows from this premium cable channel. But let’s be honest here: HBO continues to set the bar with high quality content and water cooler shows, so it’s definitely worth it if you’re a big TV fan.

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: Watchmen, Succession, Chernobyl, His Dark Materials, Barry and Euphoria are just a few hot new shows, but you can also access HBO classics like Game of Thrones, Sopranos, Six Feet Under and Sex and the City.

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Hulu

Available in Canada? No!

Cost: Some content can be accessed via Crave ($99.90 per year), CBC GEM (free) or Amazon Prime ($7.99 CAD a month or $79.99 a year).

Is it worth your money? Sadly, Hulu is not available in Canada, although some of its original content is spread across Bell Media’s Crave, Amazon Prime or CBC Gem, with its syndicated content spread across Netflix, Amazon, etc. But be warned: Not all shows have a broadcast home in Canada, so this will require some patience and scrolling.

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: Handmaid’s Tale, Castle Rock, Veronica Mars, Shrill and Pen15 are examples of some of the bigger and better titles from the Hulu roster.

Read this next: The 10 Best TV Shows of the 2010s—That You Can Still Stream

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Peacock

Available in Canada? No!

Cost: TBD

Is it worth your money? NBC wades into the streaming content game with this service, aimed to be launched in the spring. Most of the network’s shows are currently spread between other streaming platforms or licensed to specific Canadian networks (all of which you can access if you have a cable package), so while this would be a nice way to have it all in one place, we’re not heartbroken that we can’t subscribe.

Best show or movie to watch on the platform now: This streamer is playing the nostalgia card, creating an exclusive home for their extensive backlog of sitcoms and dramas (30 Rock, Will & Grace, ER, Friday Night Lights, etc.) so that folks like Netflix can’t be the only ones to benefit from their IP. Still, original shows like a Battlestar Galactica reboot from the creator of Mr. Robot and an adaptation of Brave New World, starring Alden Ehrenreich and Demi Moore, are in the pipeline, so we’re intrigued.

Happy viewing!

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