Compare Canada's Best Television Plans for 2023
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Did you know that 28 million people in Canada that watch TV in 2022? They spend a lot of time doing so too, averaging almost 22 hours per adult!
TV watching options are diversifying, with more people watching TV online or through streaming services, but cable TV is still king.
This guide dives into the best cable TV deals, the best providers in your area and how to pick the best television package for you!
How to get TV service?
Did you just get a new TV? Maybe you recently moved? You’re probably shopping for TV services and internet providers.
Today, TV is frequently bundled with your internet package. If you’re interested in both, there are savings to be had and packages that match most preferences.
On the technology side, traditionally people got TV service in Canada through cable or satellite, but IPTV (Internet Protocol television) has grown with the deployment of faster internet. More recently streaming services have attracted a lot of eyeballs and are a viable alternative for many viewers.
This page will help you learn about your TV options. See the tool up top to find great deals.
What types of cable TV packages are available?
While channel line-ups and providers do vary from one area to another, there are generally three types of TV packages available: a basic cable TV package, a basic + choose your own channels à la carte package and comprehensive packages that include dozens or hundreds of channels.
Basic TV packages are universally available. These starter or skinny TV packages come with about 25 channels. They include local and regional stations, mandatory distribution channels and your provincial and territorial educational channels. Additionally, they may also include Canadian over-the-air stations, and American network channels: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBS, PBS and other provincial and territorial channels.
For example, Bell’s Fibe TV Starter package includes the following channels
- ABC - EAST
- CHCH TV
- CPAC - ENGLISH
- CPAC - FRENCH
- ICI RADIO-CANADA TÉLÉ (ICI)
- ICI RDI
- MÉTÉO MÉDIA
- NBC - EAST
- ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
- THE WEATHER NETWORK
- VIDEO ON DEMAND
- YES TV
*note that not all channels are available in all markets
Moving beyond these starter packages, most cable TV providers offer additional à la carte or pay-and-pick channels of your choice. You’ll have a mix of discovery, entertainment, kids, lifestyle, movie news and sports channels available for an additional fee. For example, oxio’s TV service available in Quebec, allows you to add 10 specialty channels for only $15 more. Not enough? You can pick up 15, 20 or 30 channels for a little more than that.
If you’re willing to spend more and enjoy having a range of channels, something for everyone in the family, you may be better off with a package. Providers like Rogers, Telus and Bell all offer packages with many channels including premium movie and sports channels. Some packages may even include a Netflix or Crave subscription.
What cable TV providers are available where I live?
Unfortunately, provider options vary greatly between provinces so giving a list of cable TV providers in your area is out of the scope of this article The best thing to do it to ask neighbours or to visit the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for available providers where you live.
In general, urban areas enjoy greater choice than rural ones. The largest TV providers in Canada including cable, satellite and IPTV operators are:
- Beanfield (check)
- Bell TV
- Sasktel Max
There are many smaller local providers besides these providers. Just remember that no company covers the whole of Canada, so locally you may or may not have a lot of choices.
How to choose a cable TV provider?
Sometimes the choice of cable TV provider comes down to who is available where you live, although with satellite, IPTV and streaming services there are more options than there used to be.
If you are lucky enough to have multiple providers where you live, here are some criteria to help you decide:
- Availability of specific channels (do they carry your favourite sports team’s matches or a channel that you can't live without?)
- The total number of available channels
- The price of service and equipment rental fees
- Discounts for bundling TV service with internet and a home phone
- The length and terms of the contract
- The technology. Satellite TV can be cheaper than cable, but it is affected by poor weather conditions and requires you to install a dish outside.
Good to know
Ready to start shopping for a cable TV deal? You can compare offers from top providers at the top of this page.
How much does cable TV cost?
By law, a basic TV package should cost no more than $25 per month and a choose your channel option must be available on top of that.
In point of fact, TV service is often bundled with internet and phone service these days. Add in internet service and many premium channels and the number is much higher than that.
If you purchase a TV and internet bundle prices start around a minimum of $80 per month. Add a home phone landline and additional channels and that number quickly climbs above $100.
Let’s look at an example. Pricing can change locally and between providers, but here is what Videotron proposes in Montréal:
|Plan||Price per month|
|60 Mbps Internet||$53|
|60 Mbps Internet + 23 basic channels +||$65|
|60 Mbps Internet + 23 basic channels + 5 channel choices||$79|
|60 Mbps Internet + 23 basic channels + plus 10 channels||$89|
|60 Mbps Internet + 23 basic channels + 10 channels (sport option)||$94|
|60 Mbps Internet + 23 basic channels +15 channel choices||$94|
|60 Mbps Internet + 23 basic channels + 15 channel choices (sports options)||$99|
|60 Mbps Internet + 23 basic channels + 25 channels (sports option)||$104|
*Sports channels include TVA Sports, SportsNet, Golf, Fight Network, NBA TV Canada and Fox Sports Racing
Which is the cheapest cable TV provider?
Canadian law caps the price of an affordable basic TV package at just $25 per month. In some markets that plan is even lower than that. All cable TV providers should offer a plan, although the name changes. It may be referred to as a basic, skinny or limited plan. Operators are allowed to charge additional fees for equipment.
They must also give you the option to purchase channels individually to add on to this package. Additional channels may cost as little as $3 or $4 a piece, but sports and movie channels command a higher premium price.
For example, Videotron charges:
- 5 channels: $10 per month for 5 additional channels
- 10 channels: $15 per month or 10 additional channels
- 20 channels: $18 per month or 10 additional channels
Good to know
Don’t see a basic plan right away? Providers don’t always make the option easy to find so you may have to navigate to a different webpage or call them for assistance.
How many channels do you get with cable TV?
It depends on your plan and provider and how many channels you get. Basic plans start around 25 channels, but you can get plans with hundreds of channels including specialty channels and foreign channels too.
Below we take Bell Cable's Fibe TV as an example:
|Plan||Fibe TV Starter||Fibe TV Good||Fibe TV Better||Fibe TV Best|
|# Channels||25 channels||80 Channels||124||166|
|# Radio Channels||21||20||20|
|Price per month||$24.95||$72.45||$98.45||$133.45|
*internet package, Fibe TV Box and Cloud PVR required
Beyond what is included in those packages you can add on movies and series, sports, French-language, international and adult channels. Prices range according to your channel preferences. Crave with Starz is available for $25 per month and includes content from the entire HBO library, blockbuster films, Showtime and more.
Most TV operators in Canada offer similar content options and pricing.
For an example of the cable TV channel lineup, here is what is available from Eastlink.
Can I get sports-only cable TV?
Sports content is more accessible than ever. It is usually possible to purchase sports channels or packs à la carte on top of just your basic cable package. Sports are one of the most compelling reasons to subscribe to a TV service.
For example, Telus offers several packs. These include: TSN and Beyond ($8/month), Sportsnet & Beyond ($8/month) and BeIN SPORTS ($15/month). Alternatively, subscribers interested in a Premium bundle get to pick 4 theme packs to customize their packages.
Whether you want to watch the NHL, MLB, CFL, European soccer or something different, you’ll find the right option for you.
While traditionally most viewers interested in sports channels like SportsNet, TSN or RDS got them through their cable provider, that is changing.
SportsNet Now, TSN Go and RDS Direct, the channels’ online streaming services, are available for free to cable subscribers or available as a separate online subscription for cord cutters. Pricing starts at around $15 per month per service.
fuboTV is a new, compelling option for soccer fans. The Essentials base plan starts at $24.99 per month and offers a number of sports channels. Included in the package are beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS en Español, beIN SPORTS Canada, Fubo Sports Network, IMPACT Wrestling, MLB Network, OneSoccer and Premier League TV
Can I get movies-only cable TV?
As with sports programming, you can usually add movie channels to a basic cable $25 plan.
Let’s assume that you’re an Eastlink subscriber. Individually-purchased channels start at just $4.95 per month and you can add movie options like AMC, TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and Hollywood Suite 70s, Hollywood Suite 80s, Hollywood Suite 90s, and Hollywood Suite 2000s and STARZ.
As a subscriber, you can add Crave for $22.50 per month for access to more movies. Other companies may give you the option to add Netflix, Amazon Prime or other streaming services to your plan.
Finally, most cable suppliers offer on-demand movies and even access to streaming services. You'll never be at a loss for movie options.
What are the best alternatives to cable TV?
TV subscription options have gotten better in the past few years, and they need to because the alternatives are better than ever. Consumers have choices today that just didn’t exist a few years ago. Streaming services and IPTV have become popular ways of watching TV.
If you want live TV and already have internet, a service like RiverTV can make sense. You can get 40 live and on-demand channels for $16.99 per month with the option of adding many more channels. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber you can add STACKTV and get 13 popular channels for $12.99 per month. And, as we mentioned above in the sports channel section, fuboTV offers live TV and dozens of channels starting at $24.99 per month.
For local channels, over-the-air antennas can still be a great option. Your channel selection is limited and reception depends on where you live, but it’s free TV to watch. The signals are digital these days, so you can expect great image quality.
Finally, for lots of cord cutters in Canada streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Crave and Disney Plus are enough to replace their traditional cable TV package.