Telus Soft-Launches Skinny Bundle IPTV Service

Canadian service provider Telus has soft-launched a slimmed-down IPTV service/package called Pik TV that runs on smartphones, tablets and an Android TV-powered box.

That service, which relies on Ericsson’s cloud-based MediaFirst interface/experience, complements Optik TV, Telus’s full-freight, managed IPTV service that currently uses Mediaroom, the IP video platform that Ericsson acquired from Microsoft in 2013.

Update:  The original version of this story characterized Pik TV as an “over-the-top” service. Telus stressed that Pik TV is not OTT, and that the new offering “fully complies will all Canadian CRTC Broadcast Distribution Undertaking licensing requirements and qualifies fully as a pay-tv service the same as our existing Optik TV service… or any other CRTC licensed pay-TV service.” An official also stated that Pik TV is also “onside of all of our content licensing deals.”

The Pik TV FAQ also notes that watching the service live or on-demand using the Pik TV media box at home does not count against the customer’s monthly Internet data allowance. However, use of apps such as Netflix on the Pik TV media box will count toward the user’s Internet data plans. Likewise, usage of the service away from home will be subject to data usage charges, Telus noted.

Pik TV appears to have debuted last week, as apps for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets went live on April 19. A web site dedicated to the Pik TV service notes that Telus customers can purchase the associated 4K-capable Android TV box for C$100.

Pik TV has some a la carte-like aspects. The core $20 service includes 23 basic local and regional channels and a VOD library, and gives customers the ability to add five more channels from a selection that includes AMC, Comedy Network, Space, Food Network, A&E, Discovery Channel, Bravo, TLC, Much HGTV, CBC News Network, CTV News Channel, E!, CNN, and Slice.

Pik TV subs can add other channels for $4 each, and can also add several premium-level options, including Sportsnet ($15 per month), Crave TV ($7 per month), TSN ($15 per month), or a bundle of Crave TV, HBO Canada and The Movie Network for $20 per month.

Ericsson was showing off Pik TV at this week’s NAB Show in Las Vegas, and people familiar with the product expect Telus to follow with a full-launch of Pik TV in May.

Customers can buy and self-install the Android TV box for Pik TV, and also use the device to load apps such as Netflix. It’s not clear yet when or if Telus will extend access to retail devices under a bring-your-own-device model.

According to the FAQ, Pik TV is for Telus Internet customers and currently available in limited areas, including Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie, Victoria, Saanich and Prince George, and not have a subscription to Telus’s Optik TV service

Though Pik TV is not an over-the-top service, subscribers are required to have an IP broadband connection that delivers at least 15 Mbps and a Google email address. Notably, Pik TV customers can bring the box to another house to watch their subscriptions, though access to some channels are geo-restricted.  

Those customers can remove and add channels once every 30 days. To prime the pump, Pik TV’s first 30 days of service is free.

Telus has also outlined how Pik TV and Optik TV are tailored to fit the needs of different customers. Pik TV, for example, is for customers who want to pick their own channels, are comfortable “self-managing” their technology, watch TV on one screen at a time, and don’t record shows. The higher-end Optik TV offering has a bigger bundle of channels, supports multiple outlets and has DVR options.