For the first time ever, a Canadian company is going to be broadcasting videos on the Internet.

At least that’s what Quebecor would have us believe. They’re calling their new service Canada’s first Internet broadcaster. In its newspapers, it clarifies that it’s the first Canadian web broadcaster “to feature specially commissioned programs in English and French“, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

The service, available in French and English, is basically a YouTube clone, only without any of that user-generated content junk that nobody wants. It also includes live content from networks like LCN, though the live feeds use Windows Media instead of Flash like the rest of the site.

On the French side, its content includes Prenez garde aux chiens, as well as interviews from Larocque-Lapierre, Denis Lévesque and others. Curiously, no Vlog despite the fact that Quebecor Media owns the show and the show is about online video.

The English side is even stranger. There’s more content from CBC (Just for Laughs, Rick Mercer, Peter Mansbridge, etc.) than there is from Sun Media’s crappy SUN TV. There are, however, plenty of Sunshine Girl videos.

But aside from their arrogance proclaiming to be the first to do something everyone else is already doing (in fact, the entire site was designed by a company called Feed Room), here’s why I don’t like the site:

  1. There’s no way to embed individual videos in blogs
  2. There’s no way to comment on videos
  3. Videos are referred to as “stories” in the “bookmark” page (that’s how you find out how to link to individual videos), and have 81-character URLs (just long enough to get cut in emails — YouTube’s URLs are half that length, and they have a lot more videos)
  4. Navigation uses some sort of proprietary Flash/JavaScript system which breaks just about every tool my browser has (opening links in new windows, the back button, scrolling)
  5. Videos are undated (probably deliberately, since most of them are old)

If I wanted to design a web video portal that was doomed to failure, it would look something like this. It might get some traffic, thanks to exclusive video (though anything worth watching is available straight from the source), but it’s not going to take off.

In short: FAIL.

UPDATE (Nov. 29/30): Some more reaction from the blogosphere:

InfoPresse points out that the site has virtually no fiction content, because of licensing issues. Le Devoir also has an article with detail about the problem.

UPDATE (Nov. 30): Pierre-Karl Péladeau does a very awkward-sounding presentation of In it, he says it’s a “totally Canadian” site, which is laughable because it was designed by an American company.

He also says that Sun Media can do a better job than the Canadian Television Fund at producing Canadian programming. The CTF funds things like Degrassi: TNG, The Rick Mercer Report, Slings and Arrows, ReGenesis, Intelligence and Little Mosque on the Prairie, all of which won Gemini awards this year. Sun Media funds sucker-generated-content show CANOE Live and … uhh … that’s about it.

Also, the Sun Family blog points out that 24 Hours Toronto didn’t even bother to rewrite the press release announcing the network so it conforms to its style.

UPDATE (Dec. 6): CBC tech guy Bruno Guglielminetti (whose name I can spell without looking it up first) interviews Peladeau for an article in Le Devoir.

UPDATE (Dec. 11): has an interview with Dominique-Sébastien Forest, who has some long title at In the overly long interview that sounds more like a press release until the last few minutes, he notes:

  • They’re working on getting a real-time Flash encoder for live feeds, which are currently displayed through Windows Media.
  • Quebecor doesn’t consider CBC as competition online. They’re just another content provider who will share in the revenues.
  • The site is focused on professional content only (you know, like the Sunshine Girls I mentioned above).
  • It doesn’t offer embedding because their content license agreements don’t permit them to.
  • Nobody apparently noticed that there are no dates on the videos.
  • They’re working on adding comments to videos, like Espace Canoë has
  • He’s confirmed that Vlog will be coming back as a web-only show on

3 thoughts on “ Clueless

  1. denki

    Vlog is most likely coming back as a web-only something-or-other on in January.

    From the horse’s mouth : “Par ailleurs, c’est aussi sur Canoe.TV que Vlog, qui a vu le jour à TVA cette saison, sera diffusée à compter du début de 2008.”

    In the wise words of Monty Python :

    “The directors of the firm hired to continue the credits after the other people had been sacked, wish it to be known that they have just been sacked.

    The credits have been completed in an entirely different style at great expense and at the last minute. “


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