Tag Archives: HD

Videotron makes HD customers a bit happier

TSN in SD (left) and HD (right)

If you’re one of those Videotron digital subscribers who had TSN and/or Rogers Sportsnet in standard definition but didn’t feel like coughing up $3 a month to get the same channels in HD, now you won’t have to.

Last week (in the middle of the Olympics), the cable provider unlocked TSN HD (660), Sportsnet HD (661) and TSN2 HD (681) for subscribers who had the equivalent channels in SD (TSN2 comes with TSN). That’s not an insignificant number of subscribers, since TSN and Sportsnet are in a lot of packages, including the very popular Anglo package.

When I asked her about it this week, Videotron vice-president Isabelle Dessureault said the company had come to new agreements with Bell (TSN) and Rogers (Sportsnet) that allow the channels to fit in with Videotron’s pricing structure. Under Videotron’s system, anyone who pays the HD service fee and adds a channel to their lineup gets it in both standard and high definition. The $3/month sports package was the only exception to that system until now.

The new contract comes into effect on Sept. 1, Dessureault said, so customers will stop being billed the extra $3 fee as of that date (pro-rated depending on each customer’s billing cycle).

But why are the channels being unblocked if people are still being charged? Dessureault said the company is still bound by its previous agreement until Sept. 1, so has to keep charging the way it did. But whether the channel is unblocked or not is decided in a different way, usually at the discretion of the broadcaster. She admitted it may not make much sense logically, but it’s the way they have to operate.

People interested in saving a few cents can call up Videotron customer service and ask to cancel the package immediately.

Videotron wouldn’t say how many people subscribe to the $3/month sports HD package.

New HD channels coming

Sports channels aren’t the only new HD channels some people are going to be seeing on Videotron. The company confirmed via social media that Showcase, Food Network and HGTV will be launching in HD soon.

I’m told the date is Aug. 29, and that they will be on channels 676, 682 and 683, respectively. (The last two don’t correspond to SD channels – 102 and 103 – but 602, 603, 702 and 703 are already assigned.) As with other channels, those who have the SD channel and pay the HD service fee get the HD version without extra charge.

Also launching Aug. 29 with a free preview is Nat Geo Wild Canada, SD only, at Channel 118. The Shaw-owned channel launched earlier this year and is available on Shaw and Rogers systems.

Finally, Videotron is adding Prise 2 HD, which sounds really strange because Prise 2 airs reruns of old shows. TVA says it’s launching it in HD because it plans to introduce original nostalgia-themed programming.

The additions will help quell some complaints about Videotron’s poor selection among English HD channels (Showcase was definitely a noticeably absent one). But the company still lags far behind Bell in English HD selection. Other channels that should be on Videotron’s list include MuchMusic, Comedy and secondary Movie Network channels (currently the main channel and HBO Canada are the only ones in HD, leading MExcess, MFest and MFun in SD only).

UPDATE (Aug. 31): The HD channels and Nat Geo Wild launched as scheduled on those channels. Prise 2 has launched on channel 695.

Those kids and their video cameras

Casey McKinnon and Rudy Jahchan, the couple behind the geek-comedy web show Galacticast, have started up a new venture with their company 8-bit Brownies called A Comicbook Orange (sigh). As you might guess, it is a weekly comic-book review series. Its first episode gives you an idea of what it’s going to be like: a mix of B-roll and voice-over that unfortunately looks and sounds like just about every other TV review show out there, mixed in with the fun cheesy-FX sci-fi comedy that have made them the most famous Montreal-based sci-fi sketch comedy web video show in the world.

I met Rudy and Casey for Galacticast’s 1-year anniversary a couple of weeks ago, where they promised a “big announcement” coming soon. I thought NBC picked them up for a short summer run, but I guess this’ll have to do.

While I was at their exclusive VIP party (oh yeah baby, I’ve got it made!), I had a chat with Mommy McKinnon, and after some small-talk about the weather (Casey, why did you leave me in your living room with your mother?), I asked her the only question that came to mind: What does she think of her daughter going all crazy with the Internet stuff instead of, you know, making money?

“She’ll always be my baby,” Mom said. (Awwww…) Though Mom, as a non-sci-fi fan, doesn’t get 90% of Galacticast’s jokes, she watches it every week and fully supports Casey’s endeavour. Which is good, because if I threw away a good job to do this for a living, my mother would think I’m nuts.

Speaking of Galacticast, they’ve upgraded their equipment. A new wireless clip-on microphone will hopefully solve the dreadful echo that has been distracting from the quality of the show a bit, and they’ve hooked themselves up with an HD camera (like the one that filmed this episode).

The show itself has come a long way since I interviewed them back in December, and even longer since the show began. The scripts are tighter, the special effects are less cheesy and the production is more professional (though, without any crew whatsoever, it’s pretty impressive that they manage to do anything on a weekly basis). And when you’re taking on things like LOST, the Muppets, Star Trek’s mirror universe and Super Mario Bros., how could it be the coolest thing in the world?