Gem, CBC's rebranded TV app, to stream 'crown jewels of Canadian content'

CBC is rolling out a new streaming service called Gem that will feature Canadian movies and kids shows, not just from the public broadcaster, but other top content providers as well, the head of CBC/Radio-Canada said in a keynote address.

CBC/Radio-Canada head announces new streaming service during keynote in Toronto

CBC CEO and president Catherine Tait discusses why the public broadcaster is launching a new streaming service called Gem, as well as details about its offerings from various partners, including Telefilm Canada. 1:59

CBC is rolling out a new streaming service called Gem that will feature Canadian movies and kids shows, not just from the public broadcaster, but other top content providers as well, the head of CBC/Radio-Canada said in a keynote address.

"Gem will be the crown jewels of Canadian content," Catherine Tait told an audience at Content Canada, a new industry event in collaboration with the Toronto International Film Festival on Wednesday. "It won't just be CBC content. It won't be just our news and our current affairs."

Tait's announcement was the first major one she has made since being appointed CBC/Radio-Canada's first female president and CEO in April.

The new streaming service will be available before the end of the year on the CBC TV app, which is being rebranded. Subscribers have the option of an ad-supported, free option, or for $4.99 a month, an ad-free version.

Gem will offer 150 feature films from Telefilm Canada over the coming months, and the service will also partner with the National Film Board of Canada to stream "the very best of their library," she said. The participation of other companies and broadcasters will also be sought "to build up a really robust viewing experience for Canadians."

Tait said that Gem is doing what Radio-Canada has already done with its ICI Tou.TV streaming service for the French market under CBC executive vice-president Michel Bissonnette.

"So taking a feather from Michel's cap, we're doing the same now on the English side."

CBC/Radio-Canada president and CEO Catherine Tait was a keynote speaker at the Content Canada conference, a one-day industry event in collaboration with TIFF on Wednesday. (Michael Cole/CBC)

Not competing with Netflix 

But Tait said Gem is not trying to compete with Netflix.

"They kind of have that one nailed," she said. "But what we want to do is: you're Canadian, you have Netflix and for $4.99, you're going to subscribe to Gem because you know you're going to get all the other Canadian experience."

The new service will also feature "the very, very best of Canadian kids programming," Tait said. Gem will have about 225 hours of kids programming and plans to double that over the next year.

Tait said Canadian content is going to be the lion's share of what Gem provides, but on a selective basis it will also offer content from the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries.

"We're not interested in broad commercial fare that you might see on an American network," she said.