TORONTO – Sony Pictures’ free streaming video platform Crackle is packing up its Hollywood entertainment and leaving Canada.
The ad-supported service posted a notice on its website saying that starting on Thursday it will no longer offer its library of older movies and TV shows to Canadian viewers.
The move comes as Bell Media prepares to launch two of its own video-on-demand (VOD) platforms, CTV Movies and CTV Vault, later this year. Both will house a collection of older film and TV shows owned by Sony.
While Crackle has never rivalled the awareness of Netflix and CraveTV in Canada, it was one of the few streaming options in the market when it launched in 2010.
The brand fostered Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” before the show was acquired by Netflix last year, and produced films including “Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser” and “Chosen,” which was among the first streaming TV series with a narrative arc designed to encourage binge viewing.
Aside from its original content, Crackle is also known for a rotating selection of popular movies like “Men in Black,” “The Karate Kid” series, and Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview,” which play on demand with frequent advertisement breaks.
But in recent years, Crackle began shifting its priorities for the Canadian market by selling the distribution rights for many of its original programs to rival streaming platforms.
“Startup,” a TV drama about the creation of a cryptocurrency, was acquired by Amazon Prime Video in Canada, while Dennis Quaid’s “The Art of More” and Bryan Cranston-voiced animated series “SuperMansion” went to the now-defunct Shomi, owned by telecom companies Rogers and Shaw.
Many of those series have since become unavailable in the Canadian market.
Early plans for CTV’s free streaming platforms indicate that like Crackle it will offer older content with commercials, though Bell Media says it hasn’t determined all of the devices it will support, leaving it uncertain if Roku and PlayStation consoles will be supported. It has confirmed the service will be available on a number of devices, including Chromecast, Apple TV and XBox One.
Few platforms offer ad-supported, free access to big-ticket Hollywood entertainment in the Canadian marketplace, though the main broadcast networks — including CTV, City, Global and CBC — stock recent episodes and a limited library of films on their websites and apps.
Representatives for both Bell Media and Sony would not say whether Crackle’s original series will be available on the new CTV platforms.
by David Friend | The Canadian Press – Follow @dfriend on Twitter.