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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

HBO Canada nabs rights to back catalogues of HBO shows like 'Game of Thrones'

TORONTO - Canadians will soon have instant access to every episode of popular HBO shows like "Game of Thrones," "Girls" and "True Detective" through a new multi-platform agreement with the U.S. cable channel.

BCE's Bell Media (TSX:BCE) and Corus Entertainment (TSX:CJR.B) say they've struck a deal that secures the exclusive rights for all HBO scripted series that are currently produced, plus their entire past-season libraries.

Previous agreements with HBO only allowed the Canadian broadcasters to make select seasons of each show available during certain licensing windows.

Under the new deal, HBO Canada will have the rights to air past seasons, as well as make the back catalogues available through video-on-demand and HBO Canada Online, its Internet streaming video service.

More than 700 episodes from past seasons are included in the agreement, in addition to more than 300 episodes already available through its various platforms, Bell and Corus said in the announcement.

Back catalogues have become extremely valuable to broadcasters in recent years as more viewers binge watch their favourite TV shows on services like Netflix Canada, which carries full seasons of shows from around the world, and distributes its own series like "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black."

Some U.S. networks have credited binge watching for giving their TV shows a significant season-to-season ratings boost.

Producers of "Breaking Bad" attribute part of the show's massive popularity to viewers who caught up with the series partway through its run by binge-watching past seasons on Netflix.

HBO helped build momentum behind "Game of Thrones" in the United States by offering all of the past seasons on its subscription-based video streaming service.

HBO Canada is offered as part of a package of movie-themed cable channels, which include Bell's The Movie Network in Eastern Canada and Corus' Movie Central in Western Canada.

The new deal extends for multiple years, though the companies did not disclose the exact timeframe.

— Follow @dj_friend on Twitter.

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