Corus exiting pay TV, Bell Media taking TMN national

Bell Media has struck a deal with HBO to acquire all rights to its programming in Canada and has announced an original production development program.

The regional marriage of Bell Media’s The Movie Network and Corus’s Movie Central has come to an end.

Thursday evening saw Bell Media announce a long-term agreement with HBO for exclusive rights to its library, past and current seasons of content, and plans to take The Movie Network (TMN) service national.

Simultaneously, Corus announced it is exiting the pay TV business, shutting down its Movie Central service, which included the Western rights to HBO Canada. The media company said it is choosing to focus on its women and kids business instead. A cash consideration of $211 million was paid to Corus by Bell Media as part of the agreement. 

Bell Media will now be the sole operator of HBO Canada, and will maintain its Super Ecran pay service for the French-language HBO programming. 

Game of ThronesThe company’s new, long-term deal with HBO includes all platforms, as well as SVOD rights for first-run programming. That aspect of the agreement represents a big win for Bell Media’s CraveTV service, allowing it to offer high-demand, in-season programming like Game of Thrones in a competitive SVOD space.

Thursday’s announcement also included the reveal of a new original production development program. To be operated by Bell Media and HBO, “the two companies will co-develop original, Canadian drama, comedy, and factual productions for their platforms and for distribution around the world.”

The company said projects from Rhombus Media, Inverted Pictures/Artists Studio and Force Four Entertainment are already underway. And complementary to its Comedy Network and Much Digital Studios brands, the new program will also include consideration of Canadian comedians for HBO Comedy specials.