Want choice with Bell TV? Move to Quebec

Bell TV (formerly Bell ExpressVu) announced on Friday that it will begin offering à la carte packages for customers in Quebec, in an obvious response to Videotron, which already offers à la carte packages.

Here’s a comparison chart to give you an idea of how they match head-to-head on à la carte packages:

Package Videotron Bell TV
Basic + 15 à la carte $37 $40
Basic + 20 à la carte $39 $44
Basic + 30 à la carte $47 $47
1 extra channel $2 $2
5 extra channels $5 N/A ($2×5=$10)
10 extra channels $10 N/A ($2×10=$20)
15 extra channels N/A ($5+$10=$15) $15
20 extra channels $15 $19
30 extra channels N/A ($10+$15=$25) $22

Both Bell and Videotron tack on a $3 “network access fee” and a 1.5% LPIF fee, neither of which are included in their advertised prices (and aren’t included in this table). None of the prices include installation, equipment rental, or bundle rebates (which is why Bell’s basic rates are $10 more than advertised).

It’s no coincidence that Bell’s basic + 30 is the same price as Videotron’s, that’s the whole point behind Bell’s offering, which is only available in Quebec. People in Ontario who might want to benefit from this aren’t allowed to for no good reason other than Bell is better able to screw them over.

CBC asked the Competition Bureau about this obviously targetted pricing, but they said it would actually increase competition between Bell and Videotron in Quebec, and be good for consumers here. That’s true, but it’s obviously unfair to consumers in Ontario and elsewhere who won’t have à la carte packages for the sole reason that Bell doesn’t have a competitor in those areas willing to offer that option.

The CRTC should look into this, and consider requiring direct-to-home satellite providers to give the same options to customers in all areas unless provincial or local regulations make different demands.

UPDATE: Elias Makos points out something I hadn’t noticed: Bell excludes a number of popular channels from its à la carte offering, including CNN, A&E, TLC, MuchMusic and Teletoon. You have to get a separate package for that.

In related news, Bell will also be offering remote DVR programming using Sling Media technology. This will be useful for people who forget to set their DVR to record a show while they’re gone – now they can go online and remotely program it from the office or wherever they are.

12 thoughts on “Want choice with Bell TV? Move to Quebec

  1. Michael

    When I moved to Ontario for a couple of years I got cable service from Rogers, and of course all that was available were terrible and expensive packages that forced you to take channels of no interest but also practically forced you to take LOTS of such channels because to get one channel that they decided was in a different category, you had to take the whole thing. When I called Rogers to complain (having had Videotron’s a la carte service for years prior in Montreal), the rep had the gall to tell me it wasn’t their fault, they’d love to offer more granular choices but the CRTC forced them to do it in packages.

    When I told him about Videotron of course he lied and told me I must be wrong. Because to a Canadian cable customer service rep, all customers are idiots.

  2. Jay

    Although I applaud bell tv being able to offer a la carte programming , they are deluding themselves if they think they can catch up w/videotron superior choices (in the a la carte field)., which sucks because I think Bell TV is a better product than Videotron’s Illico, Hopefully a sign of better things to come.

    1. Shawn

      Jay, I’m inclined to agree with you that Bell is a better product, even though I remain stuck with Videotron. If you get a chance, can you expand on why? I’m moving soon and might consider switching… thanks.

    2. Soranar

      That is simply not true. Videotron is much cheaper than Bell (even without phone/internet/TV packages) ,it’s also more reliable (no snowstorm fritz for TV, no weird noises on your phone line, repairs rarely take more than 24 hours) and has better customer service (no hidden charges, no surprises).

      I would know, I’ve used both services and I’ve sworn off Bell forever. Since I switched my bill went down at least 25% and I’ve had to call customer service once in the last year (as compared to several times a month with Bell) and they actually fixed the problem.

      The internet service also didn’t cheat through my internet speed (I actually get 7mb instead of 4.5 to 6) , put random charges on my bills or decide to charge a full year on my credit card without my consent (there are several good reasons why I switched).

      There’s a reason Bell is on La Facture every other episode.

      The only good thing about Bell is that you can usually get service where no one else bothers to. But since it’s a monopoly you know you’re at their mercy.

  3. Fassero

    In “some” fairness (?), viewers will be getting CNN International in the basic package (although it’s in “free preview” so I guess it’s anyone’s guess what happens when that ends.) There’s also an interesting little quirk in that you can’t get TSN HD unless you pay for an extra HD package for a minimum of $5 a month. However, if you’re a Habs fan you won’t give a crap since they are more liberal with providing RDS HD. There’s also the oddity of the French Teletoon Retro coming in the basic package while you have to pay extra for the English version.

    Not perfect, but the best improvement Bell has made in at least five years in the TV packages.

  4. Serge

    When you say “this obviously predatory pricing”, what do you mean? Pricing schemes like these have nothing to do with predatory pricing as the term is defined in law or in economics. What makes it obvious to you that this is “predatory pricing”, or some other improper method of pricing? And why on earth should the CRTC do something about it?

  5. Montreal Guy


    You might want to update your article. Bell does offer 15 + 20 channels a la carte for $15 and $19 respectively.

  6. Jay


    I think bell tv has a better product overall, with all due respect to videotron.

    The pluses-better user friendly guide and remote, picture quality is 100% digital, more HD channels, better pvr than videotron, if you prefer english only or french only lineups in your programming, bell is the way to go.
    minuses: can be more expensive if you want a billingual package, only 90 day warranty on install, no VOD(video on demand). unable to record one show and watch another(unless you have a dual tuner receiver, and with time shifting available, not a big deal). Personally, I would wait until IPTV (internet protocol television) is deployed, which is supposed to be coming later this year to Montreal. I’ve seen it, and it is really awesome! TV delivered via fibre optic cable = no more dishes and VOD will be available. Bell has been slow on bringing out IPTV because there had been some tech challenges with the manufacturer and network that needed to be worked out and bell didn’t want to rush out a product on the market until they felt it was going to be a winner before going to battle with rogers and and Videotron in the urban centres (this is where they have to grow their customer base, since rural areas are now saturated with dishes). Hope it helps.


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