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Is there anything a tablet can’t do? Tablets today are extremely versatile. You can use them for video games, taking photos, listening to music, surfing the web—even controlling your home automation. But one of the coolest things you can do with a tablet is turn it into a handheld HDTV. There is a lot of high quality streaming video content available, thought thanks to cross-border media licensing complications finding content is a little more difficult in Canada than it is in the US. To help you out, I’ve put together a list of some great streaming video sources.

The most annoying thing you can see pop up on your tablet is this:

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I’m not getting into the ways around geolocation-based video restrictions or the various illegal or quasi-legal sources of video content. Those options are definitely there, but you’re on your own. This is purely the openly available stuff posted by mainstream broadcasters and media sites. Of course there’s no way I can track down and feature everything —so if you have a favourite that’s not mentioned, please let our readers know in the comments.

And now on to the good stuff, the streaming video content for your tablet…


Apple iTunes

(Extensive selection, app-based + PC, paid content)

Apple’s iTunes store is one of the largest and oldest sources of streaming video content. Access is via an app on an iOS-based device, via Apple TV or through the iTunes software running on a Mac or Windows PC.

The selection of movies available to Canadians through iTunes is excellent —I often buy new releases through iTunes weeks before they hit store shelves as a DVD or Blu-Ray. Movies offered on iTunes are paid content, available to buy or rent (in standard definition, 720p and 1080p). They can be stored locally or streamed using Home Sharing (steaming from an iTunes library to an iPad).

When it comes to pure online streaming, Apple doesn’t technically do that from iTunes itself. You can watch a movie on demand as it streams to your iPad (one that you buy, rent or that is in your account’s purchase library), but it still downloads a copy to that device. 

Cinema now movies.jpgCinemaNow

(Extensive selection, app-based + PC, paid content)

CinemaNow lets you buy or rent thousands of movies, with new release titles available the same day they are released on DVD or Blu-Ray; new TV episodes are available the day after airing. Video quality is an option of standard definition or HD.

Access is via app (iOS, Android, PS3, Xbox 360 and Smart TV) and content can be downloaded locally or streamed.


(Lots of older movies, small selection of recent releases, app-based + PC, monthly paid subscription)

Netflix is a pure streaming video service with an extensive selection of standard definition and HD movies. However, unlike services like iTunes and Cinema now, Netflix doesn’t do new release movies. You get “all you can watch” for $7.99 ($8.99 for new customers) per month, but don’t expect to find Guardians of the Galaxy or other new blockbusters any time soon.

Movies also rotate in and out of availability, so if you see one you want to watch, it’s a good idea to do so before it gets taken out of the library.

Netflix has apps for virtually any connected device —if you have any tablet, you’re golden— and offers HD streaming with various quality settings (you can turn it up or down based on your ISP bandwidth allowance).

Google Play

(Extensive selection, app-based + web, paid content)

Google Play offers a very similar service to Apple’s iTunes. The primary difference is that Google Play content is Android compatible —an iOS app is also available. Content can also be purchased or rented to watch on a PC. Saving content to a file is not easy with Google Play content, which considers the cloud to be its primary storage locker.

While Google Play has surpassed iTunes in sheer number of apps, iTunes still has the lead in movie content. 


(Large selection, app-based + web, paid content, free content)

YouTube can be a bit of a Wild West when it comes to movies. There are tons of movies, but you’ll quickly discover that many of them are old, foreign titles, documentaries, clip collections, fan movies or illegally uploaded titles (those tend to get taken down pretty quickly). There are also frequently commercials preceding the content. In other words, when it comes to the free stuff, there’s a lot of browsing and wading through junk while trying to find what you’re looking for.

YouTube Canada also sells and rents a large library of recent and new release movies. These can be played through YouTube apps on tablets or through a web browser (although not all HD content is available through browser access).


(Modest selection of mostly pre-2012 movies, app-based + web, subscription-based)

One of the newest players in the Canadian streaming movie market, Shomi is a joint venture between Rogers and Shaw. Content can be streamed and watched with a web browser or through an app (iPad and Android tablets are supported).

Shomi competes with Netflix as an “all you can watch” for $8.99/month subscription service, but also offers curated content with recommendations.

TV Shows

Apple iTunes 

(Extensive selection, app-based + PC, paid content)

Most TV shows are offered by the season and as individual episodes, in SD and HD (when high definition is available).


(Extensive selection, app-based + PC, paid content)

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CinemaNow offers purchase and rental of hundreds of TV shows in SD and HD, by individual episode or by season. The vast library of shows includes new series like Arrow and Constantine, popular HBO choices like Veep and Boardwalk Empire and selection of kids’ programming.


(Extensive selection, app-based + PC, monthly paid subscription, some original programming)

When you want to stream TV shows on your tablet, it’s tough to beat market leader Netflix. Even though Canada doesn’t get as much content as the US, that monthly subscription still lands you a lot of TV. 

There are a few 2014 seasons like Cosmos and Marco Polo, and a massive library of shows dating all the way back to the 1960s. Netflix is also beginning to offer content streamed in 4K (although Ultra HD resolution would be wasted on most tablet displays), charging extra for the few shows currently available with 8 million pixels.

Netflix has a few original series like the critically acclaimed House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.  It also plans to release at least 8 new series in 2015.  

Google Play

(Extensive selection, app-based + web, paid content)

Google Play offers a large variety of past and present TV shows for rent or sale in Canada.


(Excellent selection of recent and past TV series, app-based + web, subscription-based)

Shomi currently has over 160 TV series to choose from including popular shows like Sons of Anarchy.


(Extensive selection, app-based + web, monthly paid subscription)

CraveTV is a new launch from Bell that just went live in December, competing against other subscription based streaming services —primarily Netflix and Shomi. It currently has a price advantage at $4/month (free through some cable providers), but requires cable provider participation, which limits access for many people.


If you are eligible for CraveTV, you can stream to your tablet using an app (iOS or Android) and gain access to the only Canadian service with the full library of scripted HBO series. It also offers current seasons of popular shows like Doctor Who and Arrow.


(Extensive selection, app-based + web, paid content)

Like its movie content, YouTube offers a sprawling selection of free TV shows from a range of sources and of varying quality along with thousands of clips that sound like they could be full episodes until you notice the 2 minutes play time…

YouTube also sells and rents high quality episodes of many past and current TV series that can be streamed to your tablet using the YouTube app or a web browser. 

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Other streaming video services with Canadian content to consider include: Crackle, Shaw Go, Bell TV Online, Global TV (shown in the image on the right), CTV, HGTV and CBC. Many of these allow you to watch current popular television series (including Survivor, SNL and Jimmy Fallon, CSI …) even just release episodes, right on your phone or tablet.  They don’t charge a fee, but will interrupt programming regularly with commercial content; it is similar to watching the show on a television station, without a DVR to permit fast forwarding of ads.

Others (Sports, Music)

As well, many sporting specialty channels provide apps for streaming professional sporting events like NHL hockey and NFL football to your tablet —check out NHL Game Centre Live (from Rogers).  In fact there are apps available to stream almost any sport you are interested in. So whether you are into Tennis, or Cricket, you can find online recorded and often live, content to purchase and enjoy whereever you are.

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You can also stream music videos on your tablet for free from sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Live concert footage is also easy to find on these sites, although much of it is the of the shaky “filmed at a concert with my iPhone” variety. For some really high quality streaming concert footage, hit up iTunes for its yearly iTunes Festival concert series. 

My Last Word

What about services you hear of frequently online and in the news like Hulu Plus, Redbox Instant Video and Amazon Prime Instant Video? Sorry, but these are currently US-only.

However, with a half dozen major video streaming services to choose from (and more being added seemingly every month), plus the many TV channels that stream shows after broadcast and specialty streaming apps for sports events, Canadians still have plenty of choices for streaming video content to their tablets.

With all of this content available, you should also be cautious about download limits imposed by your internet provider.  Check your plan so you know how much content you are allowed to stream into your home.  This was the primary reason why I went to an unlimited Internet plan shortly after discontinuing cable and switching completely to streaming.

Is there one service that you love that I missed?  Let me know so I can add it to the list.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. I have been writing about technology for several decades for a wide range of outlets including Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, MSN,, Kiplinger, and GeekDad. I’m in my 10th year as a senior contributor for Forbes with a focus on reviewing music-related tech, Apple gear, battery power stations and other consumer electronics. My day job is with the Malware Research Center at AI-native cybersecurity pioneer CrowdStrike.


  1. One of my fav streaming services…  Optik on the Go is free for Telus Optik customers

    • on demand movies
    • on demand tv shows
    • live TV…. love being able to watch local news in and out of my home
    • premium TV… not many options to stream FairChild
    • no region issues

    tablet, phone, or laptop!  It’s like a second screen when watching another program on the TV.


  2. The other day my recording of The Mentalist was incomplete because a football game went too long. I just went to the CTV Go app on my iPhone and streamed the rest of the episode to my Apple TV.  It was no hassle at all and free! 

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