Do I want my MTV?
January 13, 2008 5:10 AM   Subscribe

Help me choose my Canadian cable television channels.

Here in Montreal, we can choose our cable programming a la carte-- instead of getting 400 channels we won't watch, we can choose 20-30 that we actually might! We have moved here from the US, so there is a whole new array of channels that I know nothing about. What are your favorite (English language) channels? Specifically:

1) What Canadian stations have good programming (even if it's just one or two shows you like)? Shows that perhaps I was able to get in the US and moreover Canadian programming that I have never seen.

2) Where can I find the high quality US shows and sports (e.g., I know Smallville and Battlestar Galactica are on SpaceTV)? Where do you find your favorite shows? (BONUS: Can I find Project Runway 4 on any channel in Canada?)
posted by picklebird to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
TVTropolis (for your Family Guy fix)
Food Network
Discovery (Mythbusters!)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:38 AM on January 13, 2008

1. Get your local CTV and CBC channels. What little (oh, so little) good Canadian TV there is will be found there.

2. You already know about Space. I'd add Discovery, History and Comedy, as well as those dirtynum suggested above. The movie network + MPIX + MEscape carry a lot of good US material - HBO stuff etc. Even better, most of it comes "on demand" for free when you have those channels.

The Canadian "Project Runway" is carried on Slice. Hey, if you like that kind of thing :)
posted by thparkth at 5:51 AM on January 13, 2008

- If you're a sports fan, definitely get TSN (the Canadian version of ESPN).
- G4TechTV (Leo Laporte has a great call-in show which I don't think is carried in the U.S.)
- The Documentary Channel: this is great if you want to expand your knowledge of "Canadiana"! Lots of "National Canadian Film Board" movies are carried here.
- CBC News World: Like CNN, except with news.
posted by mcroy at 6:01 AM on January 13, 2008

I'd also get the basic US channels - CBS, ABC FOX etc, because unlike the Canadian channels you don't get a delay in airing of new episodes.
posted by fermezporte at 6:23 AM on January 13, 2008

Project Runway is on Slice. There is no redeeming quality to that station except Project Runway and Project Runway Canada. As far as I can tell the only other stuff they run is diet shows and plastic surgery shows.

My selections are probably extremely nerdy. I get:

both PBSes (I think one is Burlington and one is Buffalo? I forget)
Discovery, Discovery Civilization, Discovery Health
National Geographic
Showcase (Weeds)
Documentary (I LOVE having this. I've seen some amazing stuff.)
MTV Canada (So I like Newport Harbour and The Hills. So what.)
Movies (Dexter, Big Love, obviously lots of movies)
posted by loiseau at 6:24 AM on January 13, 2008

Oh and incidentally I get the US channels (like ABC, NBC) but I truly never, ever turn them on. I'm considering flushing them. There's way too much interesting stuff that's not on those big networks.
posted by loiseau at 6:25 AM on January 13, 2008

The Documentary channel on Videotron has a lot of Canadian content. IFC is the only cable channel that I'll never give up.
posted by furtive at 6:32 AM on January 13, 2008

I cut cable about six months ago, but I remember liking APTN, BBC world, both CBC Newsworlds (French and English), and TV5 (French station).
posted by philfromhavelock at 6:51 AM on January 13, 2008

Thirding CBC Newsworld. They show some great documentaries.
posted by good in a vacuum at 8:37 AM on January 13, 2008

fermezporte, simulcasts on Global and CTV aren't "delayed" at all- what are you talking about?

There is the rare (very, very rare) American show that doesn't have rights purchased by Global, CTV, or City (CBC does almost zero US broadcasting, God love 'em), but even when you watch a "US" channel you're usually getting a Canadian feed (for major networks I mean). So even when I watch a show on, say, a Seattle channel (in Calgary here), there is a "Global" logo on it. That's the case for cable/satellite and not for over-air broadcasts of course, which is irrelevant for us so far north of the border anyway.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:13 AM on January 13, 2008

ethnomethodologist: huh, I suppose I'll have to look for the logo's/start watching more TV. Here in Montreal we get mostly Burlington VT and Plattsburgh NY stations, but I'll keep an eye out for logos. I know there's a lag for episodes of Nip/Tuck, and I guess I assumed there must have been others. Plus I'm pretty sure only the Fox station plays America's Next Top Model...
posted by fermezporte at 10:04 AM on January 13, 2008

When I still had Montreal cable (Videotron) I subscribed to IFC, the Documentary Channel, BBC World. Thanks to BitTorrent I don't watch regular TV anymore since the ads were making me sick (even with a ReplayTV that skipped them.)
posted by maremare at 10:10 AM on January 13, 2008

ethnomethodologist - I can think of at least one simulcast exception, Global has Canadian rights to The Office but has rarely simulcast it when NBC had new episodes (at least since the start of season three).

That is because they also had the rights to Deal or No Deal and would show that when it was new. And then Deal or No Deal was on they showed six weeks of Are You Smarter Than A Canadian Fifth Grader? So, if you had to depend on Global to watch the Office you'd be nearly out of luck (I think they showed a few simulcast episodes at the beginning of season three and then showed the remainder of the season three episodes in chunks, seemingly to fill time and at least not have wasted the money they spent getting the show).

So Global locks up the rights to the Office and Canadians are unable to watch the "extra content" NBC puts online because of online region blocking. So, Global is poop when it comes to trying to watch The Office in Canada.

On the other hand, sometimes the Canadian feed runs earlier than the American feed. Studio 60 was running on Sundays in Canada, Mondays in the States.
posted by gspm at 10:27 AM on January 13, 2008

As a rule, Canadians get American network TV at the same time. And even if you don't, basic cable comes with the American networks too.

American cable shows? Not so much. Slice runs Project Runway, but they do it weeks or months after the US run, for instance.

I don't have this channel-picking option (I am in BC), so I can't give you a comparative list, but I'd also put in a plug for Turner Classic Movies, which is like the best thing to ever happen to television.
posted by SoftRain at 11:59 AM on January 13, 2008

If you have any desire to be a good Canadian, get CBC (as previously mentioned), but you'll also need Sportsnet and possibly TSN, as well. Why, you ask? Hockey, of course. In Montreal, consider having your new found local friends over to watch a Habs (Montreal Canadiens) game. Heck, if you really want to get into hockey, get all 4 Sportsnet Channels - Pacific, West, Ontario and East.

I'd also recommend the Comedy Network. If only because they re-broadcast 'Corner Gas' a lot (which is a Canadian CTV sitcom, but is shown more frequently on the Comedy Network.)

On a side note - i had no idea a la carte programming was available in Montreal - I'm so jealous! Why oh why has it not come to BC yet?
posted by cgg at 12:21 PM on January 13, 2008

I'm in BC as well, but I like Discovery, History, Bravo, Showcase, Comedy, PBS, BBC world news, & BBC Canada. All of that comes with in a package except BBC canada which is a single channel add-on for me for Hustle, various English police procedurals & Top Gear. History is great. They have Carnivale & Deadwood, they used to have Foyle's War and reruns of China Beach (which is TOTALLY AWESOME), and they're just about to start showing Rome.
posted by juv3nal at 12:25 PM on January 13, 2008

If you have children, the Family Channel airs shows from the US Disney Channel and several Canadian, high quality children's shows.

Disclosure: I work for the Disney Channel.
posted by Argyle at 2:08 PM on January 13, 2008

You can watch Project Runway Canada on the Slice site, so if you can find Project Runway America online, don't bother with Slice.

Go with TMN (The Movie Network), and, if you can, the TMN-on-demand channels. There's 4 or 5 'regular' TMN channels with different themes, (choose as ye will), and there's two on-demand channels with similar names: one carries recent movies and HBO shows and is called, unsurprisingly, TMN on Demand; the other carries 'classic' films). I suggest both on-demand channels.

TMN carries most of the HBO shows.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:29 PM on January 13, 2008

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