uses old movies to grab piece of Netflix streaming market

Nova Scotia start-up is hoping to capture a chunk of the Netflix market by streaming old black and white films and B-movie cult hits like the original Planet of the Apes series. capturing 15,000 movie watchers a day

Bill Boutilier is the the owner of ChannelB Media, a Nova Scotia start-up that is streaming old black and white movies as well as cult films. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

A Nova Scotia technology start-up is aiming to capture a corner of the Netflix market by using old movies to attract older viewers. launched at the end of July, after purchasing the licensing rights to 15,000 movies from a California studio. It is currently getting approximately 15,000 movie views a day. 

"It's starting to build up," said Bill Boutilier, the owner of ChannelB Media. "We're pretty excited about it." 

The site functions similarly to its larger competitor Netflix, but instead of carrying big name movies and popular TV shows, the site carries mostly old black and white films, B-movie cult hits like the original Planet of the Apes series, and creature feature flicks like the 1958 version of The Blob.

The site does not carry the most popular movies, Boutilier said, because licensing fees for those films can range as high as $200,000 per month. 

'You can watch our stuff for free'

"In time we do plan on becoming something like Netflix, and licensing more of the expensive content, but right now the big difference between us is you can watch our stuff for free," he said.

"Our general audience would be more the baby boomers, right now with the content we have. Because it's a lot of the older movies that our parents liked a lot. It reminds them of their childhood. That's a lot of people that are coming to the site. But over time as we add more TV shows and more unique content, the age group's really going to widen up at that point." 

The site makes all of its money through advertising. There's no subscription fee to watch movies, although viewers can pay a fee to remove the ads. 

ChannelB is bringing in enough money to employ six people in its main Nova Scotia office and approximately 13 others who work remotely in areas like the United States and Ukraine. 

For Boutilier, a 36-year-old native of Dartmouth, the company is part of a movement to bring more IT jobs to his home province. 

"I would like to have more jobs and more people doing it here versus outsourcing it everywhere else in the world," he said.

Traditional TV 'going the way of the dinosaur'

"It means a lot to be able to have this here and to be able to provide some of my best friends, that I've gone through high school with, with good meaningful jobs."

Nate Dempsey, ChannelB's VP of marketing, says a large part of his job is making partnerships with new networks and video producers to fill the site with more content. 

"A lot of these older networks or more traditional networks, they want to go online. They kind of have to. If you don't, you're going to die — the traditional television is going the way of the dinosaur," he said.  

ChannelB recently partnered with MiCasa Network, a Los Angeles-based traditional television network that airs shows aimed at young Hispanic people. 

"The world is changing," said Sharon Will, the president of MiCasa.

"People are cutting the cable and cutting the TVs. People want to watch programs when they want to watch them, not when they're being aired. So by teaming up with ChannelB, we feel like we're going to expand our reach." 

Nate Dempsey also says he's been in talks with some Nova Scotian artists to bring their work to ChannelB.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.