What is Su­per Chan­nel?

Montreal Gazette - - Culture - STEVE FAGUY THE GAZETTE

On Wed­nes­day, Videotron dig­i­tal cable sub­scribers in Mon­treal and Gatineau saw some­thing called Su­per Chan­nel for the first time. But cable and satel­lite sub­scribers across Canada have had ac­cess to this ser­vice since 2007.

Su­per Chan­nel is a pay TV ser­vice sim­i­lar to The Movie Net­work. It’s pricey ($15 a month on Bell and Videotron, $20 a month on Shaw Di­rect), com­mer­cial-free, comes with four re­lated HD chan­nels, and airs a mix of movies and pre­mium tele­vi­sion se­ries from chan­nels like Show­time, Starz, TNT and Bri­tain’s Chan­nel 4. This gives it ex­clu­sive Cana­dian first-run broad­cast rights to se­ries like The Big C, Burn No­tice, Jus­ti­fied, Lever­age, Port­landia, Skins and Sons of Anarchy. It also airs con­certs and Show­time box­ing events.

But it’s prob­a­bly Home­land, the Emmy-win­ning Show­time drama about the fight against ter­ror­ism, that is the big­gest draw right now.

Su­per Chan­nel is owned by Al­larco En­ter­tain­ment, which is more than 90 per cent owned by Charles R. Allard, an Ed­mon­ton-based en­tre­pre­neur who cre­ated one of Canada’s first pay TV ser­vices, also called Su­perchan­nel, in 1983. That chan­nel was sold to Corus and re­branded Movie Cen­tral in 2001. Allard reac­quired the Su­perchan­nel brand and launched Su­per Chan­nel in 2007. Movie Cen­tral and The Movie Net­work are its com­peti­tors.

Al­larco filed for bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion in 2009, but emerged from it a year later. It has since nearly dou­bled its sub­scriber base to 410,000 in 2012, ac­cord­ing to the Cana­dian Ra­dio-tele­vi­sion and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion, and af­ter los­ing al­most $100 mil­lion in 2008, 2009 and 2010, has man­aged to make money since.

Videotron’s free pre­view of Su­per Chan­nel con­tin­ues un­til Oct. 9.

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