TSN & RDS Launch overpriced underwhelming OTT offering for cordcutters

Bell Canada recently announced that it has launched it's RDS and TSN app. As per the announcement here:

TSN Direct and RDS Direct are available for $24.99 a month with no contract, allowing digital subscribers to access TSN and RDS’ programming through their computer, tablet, mobile device, Apple TV, Samsung SmartTV, and Xbox One, with more platforms to be announced soon.

This announcement came as part of up front week where all the Canadian networks present their content lineups to the ad agencies.

So here is a walkthrough of both apps and comparing it to some of the other sports offerings for cordcutters.

Let's have a look at the TSN app on the Apple TV.

UPDATE: On March 4th TSN & RDS lowered the monthly price of their services to $19.99 and also launched a daily option for $4.99 for 24 hours.

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When you open the app you'll get a basic home screen that shows you all the TSN feeds (TSN 1-5) as well as some 'Bonus' feeds showing you what is on. You can click on any of these and then start watching the live broadcast. There is no option to rewind to the start of a broadcast though and of course you can't fast forward either. You also can't pause the broadcast.

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When you scroll down you'll see a guide that shows you what is on each channel throughout the day. You can't click on any of this and no description of the programming is available.

This is the odd part of the app. For one the fact that you can't select any of these options makes it sort of useless. So you can't click on any of the current events to just jump into the feed and you can't click on any of the upcoming events to get a description.

Perhaps this will evolve over time but right now both the TSN and RDS apps are so bare bones compared to other similar sports apps which is odd since they are launching this two full years after Sportsnet launched their service. From that standpoint the app just feels rushed and completely primitive.

To even use the app you have to subscribe for $24.99 per month and there is no free trial offered at this time. You can also use your existing cable credentials to log into the app, as long as you have TSN as part of your current cable package.

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For both options you are redirected to use a browser url and enter a unique code generated by your device and then enter your cable credentials or your TSN account info. It's a fairly simple process and standard for these kind of apps.

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You can't subscribe directly through iTunes though which means that if you want to manage your subscription you have to go to TSN's website to cancel rather than being able to unsubscribe through the Apple TV or any IOS device.

The RDS app is exactly the same as the TSN app. The home screen will show you all the RDS feeds.

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Below it is the same guide.

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The sign up process is the same as well.

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From a performance standpoint both apps do what they promise. They give you TSN and RDS live via your Apple TV. I was able to watch a few matches from the French Open with no issues. The big test for new streaming services like this though is when there is a big event that everyone wants to watch at the same time and both TSN and RDS haven't had to face that issue yet.

So if your a Canadian cord cutter who has been dying for TSN or RDS is the service worth trying? In our opinion $24.99 a month is pretty pricey. For Canadian English cord cutters that are sports fans that means subscribing to both TSN and Sportsnet on a streaming device will cost you over $50 a month since Sportsnet's service is also $24.99 a month.

UPDATE: As of Oct 2018 Sportsnet lowered the price of their monthly service to $19.99 but also launched a more expensive offering called Sportsnet Now+ for $27.99 per month. They also have a yearly Sportsnet Now+ subscription for $249.99.

Sportsnet Now was launched in March of 2016, so it's taken Bell more than two years to launch a competitive offering at the same price level. It's worth noting though that the TSN app lacks a few things that the Sportsnet app has.

First off even if you don't subscribe to the Sportsnet app you can at least watch all the clips and highlights you want. The same experience you would get on their website or mobile app.


The Sportsnet app also allows you to sort content to watch by league, team and show although there is limited on demand content there, mostly clips and highlights.

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The point is that if you are paying $24.99 a month for one channel you should have access to all the content you want. This brings up my biggest complaint about both of these apps.

They are great for watching sports live, but they both offer zero real content on demand.

If you look at any of the league streaming services you get every game live and on demand. So if you miss a game or if you are a fan of something like the English Premiere League who's games are on and odd times due to the time difference you can catch up and watch the game whenever you want.

Services from DAZN, MLB, NHL, NBA even NLL all offer this ability to go back weeks or months to watch games.

For the same cost of $50 Canadian a month you could subscribe to Sling TV's $25 US a month package and get over 45 channels including NBC Sports & Fox Sports as well as a whole host of other channels live as well as on demand content.

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You could also subscribe to ESPN+ for $4.99 US a month on top of that.

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Both the ESPN app and the NBC Sports app have live feeds as well as full on demand libraries of games.

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Having more choice in Canada is great, but the Canadian offerings have been slow to develop and over priced for what you get. The biggest win for any cord cutter is at any given time you can choose to subscribe to whatever you want.

This buffet table of choice is what we preach to our cord cutter clients all the time. Try out any of these services and switch them on and off as you see fit. For now though you can get more bang for your buck with other services.

For most people it will come down to what content is on each service. Sportsnet broadcasts most Blue Jay games, but for people who are baseball fans I would suggest that the MLB service is a better option.

TSN and Sportsnet both split the rights for NHL games depending on the team and region so this is where it can get costly for cord cutters.

TSN and Sporstnet should be in the $9.99 a month range each for what you get in our opinion. The idea that each of them have muliiple feeds is why both Bell and Rogers think Canadians will pay $24.99 for each, but considering most of the time the other channel feeds are broadcasting the same thing or have content that is blacked out due to regional restrictions doesn't make it worth that amount. Until then you are better off spending your money elsewhere.

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