Canada’s Bell Streams Out Set-Top-Free Pay TV Option

Canadian telco Bell has added a set-top-free, apps-driven pay TV option with the debut of Fibe Alt TV, a service that offers up to 500 channels in the home via iOS and Android mobile devices, fourth-gen Apple TV boxes and Web browsers.

Fibe Alt TV, an alternative to Bell’s Fibe TV service, starts at $14.95 per month for a lineup of more than 30 channels in a “Starter” package that includes basic networks such as CTV, CBC, Fox, NBC, CBS and ABC,  though customers must also take an Internet service from the company.

Bell is also selling bulkier Fibe Alt TV tiers that carry a regular price of up to $103 per month. Those customers can also tack on premium such as The Movie Network, CraveTV, and HBO Canada.

Alt TV is initially available to qualified Internet customers in Ontario and Quebec, with plans underway to extend access to Atlantic Canada and Manitoba.

Fibe Alt TV offers up to two simultaneous streams in the home via a managed IP video network, and also supports access to certain content when customers are on the go.

Bell said it expects to extend support for Fibe Alt TV to Android TV-based devices later this year.

Alt TV doesn’t support certain features offered on its flagship Fibe TV product, such as select programming and content in 4K format, DVR recording, the ability to pause and rewind live TV, to restart shows in progress or from the past 30 hours, or movie rentals and purchases. It does, however, support pay-per-view programing and has access to a VOD library.

Bell’s TV unit added 22,402 net new Fibe TV subs in Q1 2017, and ended the period with 2.83 million TV subs, including 108,107 that came way of its acquisition of Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS), and a loss of 38,065 satellite TV subscribers.

Bell’s new streaming TV option comes on the scene as other service providers launch or make plans for next-gen video services.

Of recent note, Telus recently soft-launched a slimmed-down IPTV service/package called Pik TV that runs on smartphones, tablets and an Android TV-powered box and leans on Ericsson’s MediaFirst platform.

RELATED: Telus Soft-Launches Skinny Bundle IPTV Service

Shaw Communications, meanwhile, has launched “BlueSky TV,” a service that uses Comcast’s X1 platform. Rogers Communications has plans to debut an X1- based IPTV service by early 2018.

RELATED: Rogers to Tap Comcast’s X1 Platform for IPTV Shift