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.