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Is it worth it?

March 1 marked the arrival of a smaller "skinny basic" bundle of channels all television providers must offer for $25 per month or less, thanks to new rules from the CRTC. Users can add theme packs, build-your-own packs, or in some cases, à la carte channels. But is it really a better deal than a large cable or satellite bundle? James Bradshaw and Shane Dingman crunched the numbers for some fictional viewers to find out

Who are our viewers?

Garret Sparks of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Garret Sparks of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The Sports Fan

You're a general-interest sports nut. The Jays are finally contenders, and they're Canada's team, so you want to follow them. You also grew up on Hockey Night in Canada, but want to follow your team's regional broadcasts, too. You'll watch golf, tennis, or soccer if it's on, and a few times a year, you like a good curling fix.


Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in HBO's Game of Thrones

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in HBO’s Game of Thrones

photo courtesy of HBO

The Emmy Juror

You can't stand to have the best shows on TV spoiled on Twitter. You mark the start of the next HBO series in your calendar. You must watch Walking Dead as it airs, and you're proud that Orphan Black comes straight outta Canada. But you're also transfixed by The Americans and American Horror Story.

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Home improvement host Mike Holmes

Home improvement host Mike Holmes

The Do-It-Yourselfer

If cooking shows are your jam, or you want to improve your home or body, enjoy (watching) the great outdoors (indoors) or gawking at lifestyles of the strange and famous, then you might want a taste of these channels. A healthy dose of celebrity or property schadenfreude is included.


YTV's cartoon SpongeBob Squarepants

YTV’s cartoon SpongeBob Squarepants

The Busy Parent

For many busy parents with young kids or tweens, sometimes a little tube time can be the baby sitter, or the reward for good behaviour. Assuming your children can sit still for a full half-hour, and aren't just addicted to YouTube clips, a rich array of age-appropriate content awaits.


CNN correspondent John King

CNN correspondent John King

Ross D. Franklin/AP Photo

The Newshound

Sure, your phone will serve up plenty of news from Facebook, TMZ, or The Globe and Mail. But when that major world event comes out of the blue, or disaster strikes, you may decide only the 24-hour networks' talking heads will do, and you can't rely on Wolf Blitzer alone.

Note: Prices do not include taxes, additional fees or bundle discounts. We have chosen to include the rental price of the cheapest available set-top box offered to skinny basic subscribers. While some companies have already started to offer channels individually, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission does not require full "pick-and-pay" to be in place until December.


Rogers || Bell || Shaw || Telus || Cogeco || Videotron

Rogers

Rogers primarily offers pre-assembled theme packs for $3 to $18 on top of its starter package, although select premium networks like The Movie Network or an array of multicultural channels can be bought à la carte. Later this year, when the CRTC requires it, Rogers will offer a full selection of standalone channels. Adding a PVR set-top box that can record and rewind shows, will cost $24.95 per month, rather than $5.49 per month for the basic box.

The Sports fan

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Channels you need: Sportsnet regional feed, Sportsnet One, TSN 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Skinny total:

$55.48 per month
  • Includes 46 channels
  • $24.99 - Starter Package
  • $5.49 - set-top box rental
  • $25 - Sportsnet and TSN bundle

Bundle alternative: $85.47 per month
Extra Plus package – includes 315 channels and set-top box

The Emmy Juror

Channels you need: The Movie Network/HBO, AMC, FX, Space
Skinny total: $61.43 per month

  • Includes 42 channels
  • $24.99 - Starter Package
  • $5.49 - set-top box rental
  • $10 - Drama & Comedy Bundle
  • $20.95 - The Movie Network/HBO pack

Bundle alternative: $106.42
Extra Plus package plus TMN/HBO – includes 324 channels and set-top box

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The Do-it-Yourselfer

Channels you need: Food Network, HGTV, OLN, Slice, W Network
Skinny total: $60.48

  • Includes 58 channels
  • $24.99 - Starter Package
  • $5.49 - set-top box rental
  • $10 - Lifestyle pack
  • $10 - Variety pack
  • $10 - Adventure pack

Bundle alternative: $71.48 per month
Plus package – includes 280 channels and set-top box


The Busy Parent

Channels you need: Cartoon Network, Disney Jr., Family Chanel, Treehouse, YTV
Skinny total: $45.48

  • Includes 44 channels
  • $24.99 - Starter Package
  • $5.49 - set-top box rental
  • $10 - Tween Entertainment pack
  • $5 - Kids Entertainment pack

Bundle alternative: $85.47 per month
VIP package – includes 365 channels and set-top box

The News Junkie

Channels you need: BNN, CBC News Network, CNN, CTV News Channel
Skinny total: $45.48

  • Includes 40 channels
  • $24.99 - Starter Package
  • $5.49 - set-top box rental
  • $5 - Canadian news theme pack
  • $10 - U.S. News theme pack

Bundle alternative: $85.47 per month
Extra Plus package – includes 315 channels and set-top box


Rogers || Bell || Shaw || Telus || Cogeco || Videotron

Bell

On one hand, Bell has gone farther than its competitors by making every one of its channels available à la carte, most of them for $4 or $7 per month, and also offered a 10-channel build-your-own option for $37. But it has not included U.S. networks like ABC, NBC or PBS in its new skinny bundle, and most customers must rent a high-definition PVR for $15 per month (satellite subscribers have a $7 option without PVR functions).

The Sports Fan

Channels you need: Sportsnet regional, Sportsnet One, TSN 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Skinny total: $64.95 per month

  • Includes 32 channels
  • $24.95 - Starter package
  • $15 - Whole Home PVR rental
  • $25 - Sports theme pack

Bundle alternative: $71.95 per month
Bell's Good package plus Sportsnet ONE – includes 131 channels and PVR

The Emmy Juror

Channels you need: The Movie Network/HBO, AMC, FX, Space
Skinny total: $80.95 per month

  • Includes 35 channels
  • $24.95 - Starter package
  • $15 - Whole Home PVR rental
  • $20 - TMN/HBO package
  • $21 - AMC, FX, Space ($7 each a la carte)

Bundle alternative: $110.95 per month
Bell's Better package plus TMN/HBO – includes 187 channels and PVR

The Do-it-Yourselfer

Channels you need: Food Network, HGTV, OLN, Slice, W Network
Skinny total: $71.95 per month

  • Includes 25 channels
  • $24.95 - Starter package
  • $15 - Whole Home PVR rental
  • $28 - Food Network, HGTV, OLN, and W ($7 each a la carte)
  • $4 - Slice (a la carte)

Bundle alternative: $94.95 per month
Bell's Better package plus Slice – includes 176 channels and PVR

The Busy Parent

Channels you need: Cartoon Network, Disney Jr., Family Chanel, Treehouse, YTV
Skinny total: $71.95 per month

  • Includes 25 channels
  • $24.95 - Starter package
  • $15 - Whole Home PVR rental
  • $28 - Disney Jr., Family Channel, Treehouse, YTV ($7 each a la carte)
  • $4 Cartoon Network (a la carte)

Bundle alternative: $82.95 per month
Bell's Good package plus three channels – includes 133 channels and PVR

The News Junkie

Channels you need: BNN, CBC News Network, CNN, CTV News Channel
Skinny total: $67.95 per month

  • Includes 24 channels
  • $24.95 - Starter package
  • $15 - Whole Home PVR rental
  • $28 - four news channels ($7 each a la carte)

Bundle alternative: $78.95 per month
Bell's Good package plus two channels – includes 132 channels and PVR


Rogers || Bell || Shaw || Telus || Cogeco || Videotron

Telus

The Telus Lite package starts with 35 channels, 15 are HD, but none is the U.S. conventional networks. After that, there are 140 à la carte channels, and dozens of package add-ons. An optional $15 a month PVR rental is also available for the basic Lite combo.

The Sports fan

Channels you need: Sportsnet regional, Sportsnet One, TSN 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Skinny total: $49 per month
Includes 63 channels

  • $20 - Lite TV, including 35 channels
  • $5 - HD receiver rental
  • $14 - Popular sports pack (28 extra channels)

Bundle alternative: $70 per month
Build your own, You Pick 6 with popular sports pack (PVR and 2 digital box rentals come free with the package) – includes at least 94 channels

The Emmy Juror

Channels you need: The Movie Network/HBO, AMC, FX, Space
Skinny total: $61 per month

  • Includes 82 channels
  • $20 - Lite TV, including 35 channels
  • $5 - HD receiver rental
  • $36 - Prime Time, World Beyond packs, plus FX a la carte and Movie Network and HBO

Bundle alternative: $84 per month
Basic combo with Essentials, and same add-ons (PVR and 2 digital box rentals come free with the package) – includes 107 channels

The Do-it-Yourselfer

Channels you need: Food Network, HGTV, OLN, Slice, W Network
Skinny total: $46 per month

  • Includes 61 channels
  • $20 - Lite TV, including 35 channels
  • $5 - HD receiver rental
  • $21- Living, lifestyle beyond and adventure theme pack: 26 channels

Bundle alternative: $69 per month
Basic combo with Essentials, and same theme packs (PVR and 2 digital box rentals come free with the package) – includes 92 channels

The Busy Parent

Channels you need: Cartoon Network, Disney Jr., Family Chanel, Treehouse, YTV
Skinny total: $43 per month

  • Includes 60 channels
  • $20 - Lite TV, including 35 channels
  • $5 - HD receiver rental
  • $18 - Family Time and Kids Time theme packs, Disney Jr. a la carte (25 channels)

Bundle alternative: $76 per month
Pre-built Favourites with Disney Jr. à la carte and Family Time pack (PVR and 2 digital box rentals come free with the package) – includes 83 channels

The News Junkie

Channels you need: BNN, CBC News Network, CNN, CTV News Channel
Skinny total: $39 per month

  • Includes 66 channels
  • $20 - Lite TV, including 35 channels
  • $5 - HD receiver rental
  • $14 - Lite Plus A and News North America Theme Pack (31 channels)

Bundle alternative: $45 per month
Basic combo with Essentials with News North America theme pack (PVR and 2 digital box rentals come free with the package) – includes 79 channels


Rogers || Bell || Shaw || Telus || Cogeco || Videotron

Shaw

Shaw's Limited TV package starts at $30 ($25 for a couple dozen channels and $5 for the box rental) but allows customers to add themed packages of channels on top. Some themes come with discounts if bought together, but they typically start at $6 per theme.

The Sports Fan

Channels you need: Sportsnet regional, Sportsnet One, TSN 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Skinny total: $44 per month

  • Includes 53 channels
  • $25 - Limited TV package, comes with 40 channels
  • $5 - HD box rental
  • $14 - For TSN and Sportsnet theme packs, adds 13 channels

Bundle alternative: $51 per month
Personal TV with $8 TSN add-ons - 71 channels and set-top box

The Emmy Juror

Channels you need: The Movie Network/HBO, AMC, FX, Space
Skinny total: $60 per month

  • Includes 54 channels
  • $25 - Limited TV package, comes with 40 channels
  • $5 - HD box rental
  • $30- Suspense and Variety theme packs and the Movie Network and HBO Canada bundle, 14 channels

Bundle alternative: $73 per month
Personal TV, plus same two movie packs and the TMN add-on - includes 80 channels and set-top box

The Do-it-Yourselfer

Channels you need: Food Network, HGTV, OLN, Slice, W Network
Skinny total: $48 per month

  • Includes 58 channels
  • $25 - Limited TV package, comes with 40 channels
  • $5 - HD box rental
  • $18- Three theme packs: Inside & Outside, Lifestyle and Large Sports Pack (18 channels)

Bundle alternative: $55 per month
Personal TV plus Large Sports and Lifestyle - includes 79 channels and set-top box

The Busy Parent

Channels you need: Cartoon Network, Disney Jr., Family Chanel, Treehouse, YTV
Skinny total: $50 per month

  • Includes 53 channels
  • $25 - Limited TV package, comes with 40 channels
  • $5 - HD box rental
  • $10 - Young adult and Kids theme packs, adds 12 channels. Cartoon Network is currently free

Bundle alternative: $53 per month
Personal TV plus same theme packs - includes 76 channels and set-top box

The News Junkie

Channels you need: BNN, CBC News Network, CNN, CTV News Channel
Skinny total: $45 per month

  • Includes 53 channels
  • $25 - Limited TV package, comes with 40 channels
  • $5 - HD box rental
  • $15 - All three parts of the Large News theme pack

Bundle alternative: $53 per month
Personal TV with two of the three news packs - includes 75 channels and set-top box


Rogers || Bell || Shaw || Telus || Cogeco || Videotron

Cogeco

To build on Cogeco's $25 basic bundle, which includes U.S. conventional networks such as ABC and NBC, subscribers can add any of 110 channels à la carte, most of them for $3.50 or $6 a month. It also offers My Mix build-your-own packages of 10, 20, 30 or 40 channels, which cost $38 to $59 monthly and include the same basic channels. The simplest PVR costs $10 monthly.

The Sports fan

Channels you need to add: Sportsnet regional, Sportsnet One, TSN 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Skinny total: $52.00 per month

  • Includes 39 channels
  • $38 - My Mix 10 build-your-own package
  • $7 - set-top box rental
  • $7 - extra fees for TSN, Sportsnet and Sportsnet One

Bundle alternative: $66.00 per month
Perfect Mix package – includes 55 channels and set-top box

The Emmy Juror

Channels you need to add: The Movie Network/HBO, AMC, FX, Space
Skinny total: $71.99 per month

  • Includes 49 channels
  • $38 - Mr Mix 10 build-your-own package
  • $7 - set-top box rental
  • $21.99 - TMN/HBO package
  • $2 - extra fee for AMC

Bundle alternative: $97.00 per month
Ultimate Mix package – includes 65 channels and set-top box

The Do-it-Yourselfer

Channels you need to add: Food Network, HGTV, OLN, Slice, W Network
Skinny total: $45.00 per month

  • Includes 39 channels
  • $38 - My Mix 10 build-your-own package
  • $7 - set-top box rental

Bundle alternative: $78.00 per month
Perfect Mix package plus two à la carte channels – includes 57 channels and set-top box

The Busy Parent

Channels you need to add: Cartoon Network, Disney Jr., Family Chanel, Treehouse, YTV
Skinny total: $45.00 per month

  • Includes 39 channels
  • $38 - My Mix 10 build-your-own package
  • $7 - set-top box rental

Bundle alternative: $75.50 per month
Perfect Mix package plus two a la carte channels - includes 57 channels and set-top box

The News Junkie

Channels you need to add: BNN, CBC News Network, CNN, CTV News Channel
Skinny total: $45.00 per month

  • Includes 39 channels
  • $38 - My Mix 10 build-your-own package
  • $7 - set-top box rental

Bundle alternative: $72.00 per month
Perfect Mix package plus BNN à la carte – includes 56 channels and set-top box


Rogers || Bell || Shaw || Telus || Cogeco || Videotron

Videotron

Videotron's basic package exists, for $25 with an additional $6.99 monthly HD box rental fee, but to do any customization, users have to spend on the company's pick-your-own combo packs, which let you choose increments of five, 10, 20 or 30 channels. So none of these cases has a separate price for a bundled alternative (as we see in the most of the other providers).

The Sports fan

Channels you need: Sportsnet regional, Sportsnet One, TSN 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Skinny total: $56.99 per month
Includes 35 channels

  • $50 - Custom 10 package
  • $6.99 - HD terminal rental

Bundle alternative: $56.99 per month
TSN and Sportsnet are not available in the cheapest Custom 5 package

The Emmy Juror

Channels you need: The Movie Network/HBO, AMC, FX, Space
Skinny total: $72.97 per month

  • Includes up to 40 channels
  • $50 - Custom 10 package
  • $6.99 - HD terminal rental
  • $15.98- Movie package includes AMC, FX, TMN channels and HBO Canada

Bundle alternative: $72.97 per month
Custom 10 package needed for Space – includes 33 channels and set-top box

The Do-it-Yourselfer

Channels you need: Food Network, HGTV, OLN, Slice, W Network
Skinny total: $56.99 per month

  • Includes 35 channels
  • $50 - Custom 10 package
  • $6.99 - HD terminal rental

Bundle alternative: $56.99 per month
Custom 10 package needed to pick relevant networks – includes 33 channels and set-top box

The Busy Parent

Channels you need: Cartoon Network, Disney Jr., Family Chanel, Treehouse, YTV
Skinny total: $56.99 per month

  • Includes 35 channels
  • $50 - Custom 10 package
  • $6.99 - HD terminal rental

Bundle alternative: $56.99 per month
Custom 10 package needed to pick relevant networks – includes 33 channels and set-top box

The News Junkie

Channels you need: BNN, CBC News Network, CNN, CTV News Channel
Skinny total: $56.99 per month

  • Includes 35 channels
  • $50 - Custom 10 package
  • $6.99 - HD terminal rental

Bundle alternative: $56.99 per month
Custom 10 package needed to pick relevant networks – includes 33 channels and set-top box

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