In case you hadn’t noticed from coverage by La Presse, Canoe, Rue Frontenac, Branchez-Vous, MSN, Radio-Canada and, like, every other news media in Quebec, Radio-Canada last week launched tou.tv, a video portal with content from Radio-Canada but also some other television networks like Télé-Québec, TV5, ARTV, TFO and others, including some European francophone channels. (The inevitable comparisons to Hulu followed quickly, even though Canadians can’t use Hulu and therefore don’t have much basis for comparison).
Notably absent from that list are V, the former TQS network that already puts all its content online on its own website, and anything owned by Quebecor, including TVA. Quebecor’s strategy is to leverage its video content to improve the bottom line for its Videotron cable service. So the only way to get TVA shows on demand is to use Videotron’s Illico video-on-demand service (which has most TVA content for free).
Still, even if it was just Radio-Canada stuff, it would be pretty cool. I’d finally get a chance to see two of my favourite shows – Tout le monde en parle and Infoman – on demand (I usually miss the initial airings of both).
Oh but wait, neither show is part of Tou.tv’s vast repertoire.
How can that be? They’re both Radio-Canada series. And because they’re both about the news, you’d think they’d have a short shelf life. Wouldn’t you want them to get maximum exposure in a short period of time? Are people going to buy DVDs of these shows in three years? (Well, maybe…)
Despite being on Facebook and Twitter, Tou.tv hasn’t been communicating very well with users. Its first response on Twitter came a week after it launched, in which it reassured me (don’t I feel special) that it’s just getting started. I can understand that, though there’s still a lot of viewer inquiries and stuff that’s not being responded to, making it seem like it’s being ignored.
There’s also technical problems, like videos freezing halfway through, or (as I experienced) not being able to resume after a long pause. But I can understand that too, assuming they eventually fix it.
So what’s up with TLMEP and Infoman? I sought out to inquire. I sent messages to Radio-Canada (for both shows), and to the production houses behind those shows: Avanti Ciné Video and Les productions Jacques K Primeau (TLMEP) and Zone 3 (Infoman). The only response I got was from Radio-Canada’s Marie Tetreault, who said that they couldn’t include these programs because of rights issues. (One of those annoying problems that even forced them to temporarily pull their own launch video).
“Il n’est pas prévu d’offrir la version intégrale en différé de Tout le monde en parle” was the final word.
So those hoping that these shows would soon be added to Tou.tv, don’t hold your breath. They’ll have the entire series of Et Dieu créa … Laflaque!, Virginie, Tout sur moi, and the RBO Bye-Byes, but two of its biggest shows won’t be added because Radio-Canada doesn’t want to go through whatever trouble is necessary to secure the appropriate rights.
I could understand if this was a 20-year-old TV show, conceived long before the Internet existed, and which has some rights holders who can’t be reached or something, but surely RadCan can come to some arrangement with its own shows to clear online on-demand rights for new episodes.
UPDATE (Feb. 16): La Presse explores producers’ worries about Tou.tv eating into their revenue.