Bell TV Launches Video On Demand, 1080p Hi-Def Movies


bell-TV-video-on-demandIn the ultra-competitive world of TV distribution, particularly here in Canada, the big battle has been waged predominantly between cable and satellite providers. Cable companies traditionally speak of their advantage over satellite in areas like reliability, Video on Demand (VOD) and quick channel-changes. Satellite for its part makes claims around superior picture quality and geographic coverage.

Today however, the landscape has changed yet again, with Bell TV announcing that it has launched satellite-based VOD  – a first of its kind in Canada.

Typically, satellite customers have been able to order scheduled Pay Per View programming, but the infrastructure needed to handle true real-time access to videos on demand hasn’t been available. Now, not only is VOD possible, the movies are being made available in what’s known as “Full HD” or 1080p, meaning that these movies are being streamed at the equivalent of Blu-ray quality. By way of comparison, all broadcast HD programming on cable and satellite is typically done in 720p – slightly less than half the resolution of 1080p. This is the first time 1080p has been made available in Canada. If you’ve been resisting the call of Blu-ray so far, Bell TV’s offering may mean you can forego that purchase altogether.

As of this announcement, the selection of available VOD content was slim – only 10 movies. However, if the selection of content on Bell’s IPTV product – Fibe TV – is any indicator, many more movies and shows should be available soon. According to Bell, new titles will be “made available every week.”

To access Bell TV’s VOD service (see their FAQ here), you’ll need one of their HD PVRs – either the 9242 or the 9241.  To enjoy the full HD 1080p signal, you’ll need to have one of these PVRs connected to a 1080p-capable HDTV. No word yet whether Bell will extend the service to their PVR-capable 6131 HD receivers.

Update: As one of the commenters pointed out below, these receivers only show two HD options: 720p and 1080i. So how does one achieve full 1080p? The answer from Bell is:

The set top box automatically overrides the existing setting and outputs at 1080p. The output settings will include 1080p in the future when there is 1080p broadcast available.

Movies cost $6.99 per title for up to 48-hour access, and are available instantly by remote control on channel 1000 or by calling 1-866-68 ORDER.

Disclosure: Sync is owned and operated by Bell Canada.

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13 comments

  1. D. Roland

    Will Bell ever have ‘hardwired’ TV at the residential level? Perhaps through phonelines? Fiber optic phone lines? Internet?

    Dying for a Rogers Alternative.

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    • Simon Cohen

      Yes, in fact it was formally announced earlier this week. It’s called Fibe TV – stands for fibre-optic TV. It’s only available in certain neighbourhoods in Toronto and Montreal for now, but the plan is roll it out to a much wider area soon. Here’s their site: http://fibetv.bell.ca

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      • kevin

        anybody else find it interesting that as Rogers and Bell roll out more and more TV over the internet services they are also removing unlimited internet plans and reducing the basic GB allowances on other plans. I guess we will be paying one way or another.

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  2. BNP

    Does this new Full HD (1080p) format apply to all HD programming that is received by my Bell TV 9242 receiver or is it just related to the VOD selections I order?

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  3. John

    VOD Movies are downloaded and stored on the bell 9141 and 9142 recievers, there is an area on the hard drive reserved for these movies. so all 10 movies are on your hard drive and when you pay for them then there unlocked for 24 hours. as for the 1080p, just one is 1080p but I am having troubles with this. I have the 9242 reciever and a 1080p led-dlp samsung, it does 1080p witn my computer and with my ps3, it does 24fps and 60fps from my ps3, also the ps3 just had an update to do 3d blu-ray now, anyhow. my 9242 has no settings past 1080i and i am using a good 1.4 hdmi cable. i am stumped and bell is no help, they told me my tv probably does not do 24p. been on samsungs website, and no updates. when i select the 1080p vod movie it says my tv does not support 1080p which it does.

    any suggestions?

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  4. Simon Cohen

    Great question George. I’ve wondered the same thing. I’ll get an answer and update the post.

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