TORONTO — The CBC has launched a new streaming service featuring live and on-demand programming for free as well as an option to upgrade to a premium membership for a monthly fee.
The public broadcaster says CBC Gem has more than 4,000 hours of content and will offer original programming, including the upcoming drama series “Northern Rescue.”
William Baldwin and Kathleen Robertson star in the family drama, which will launch exclusively on CBC Gem in Canada starting March 1.
The CBC has also announced a partnership with Wattpad for emerging Canadian writers to create exclusive content for the streaming service.
Meanwhile, a partnership with Telefilm Canada allows CBC Gem to offer more than 100 Canadian feature films.
All the Canadian films are available ad-free, with additional titles from the National Film Board of Canada to be added in the coming year.
All children’s programming is also provided ad-free within CBC Gem.
Announced in September and launched Tuesday, CBC Gem replaces the public broadcaster’s previous app and offers the full programming slate, from drama to documentaries and sports. It’s available for free as an app for iOS and Android devices and online at cbcgem.ca, and on television via Apple TV and Google Chromecast.
Included are current and past seasons of favourite shows. Canadian titles on the service include “Kim’s Convenience,” “Baroness von Sketch Show,” ”Schitt’s Creek,” “Murdoch Mysteries,” “Anne with an E,” “The Kids in the Hall” and “Being Erica.” International titles include “Fortitude,” “The Great British Baking Show,” “Luther,” “Portlandia” and “Top of the Lake.”
Films include “Barney’s Version,” “Cairo Time,” “Mommy” and “Midnight’s Children.”
The free version also has the ability to live stream CBC TV at any time, with access to 14 of the public broadcaster’s local channels and their newscasts.
CBC Gem, which is exclusive to Canada, also offers French-language programming from ICI Radio-Canada.
The premium membership, available for $4.99 per month (with the first month free of charge), will offer all on-demand content ad-free and access to a live stream of CBC News Network 24/7.
All content on CBC Gem is available with closed captioning, and described video is available for most on-demand content.
The CBC said it plans to collaborate with new partners in order to expand the streaming library and offer additional Canadian and international content.
CBC original titles that are currently on Netflix, such as “Schitt’s Creek,” will remain there dependent on the deals that are negotiated with each production individually, said the public broadcaster.
In addition, CBC/Netflix co-productions — including “Anne with an E” — have separate agreements in which they are available exclusively on CBC and CBC Gem in Canada for a specific window (and internationally on Netflix), before also becoming available on Netflix Canada.