Rogers, Shaw Set Launch For Netflix Rival

Subscription Streaming Service ‘shomi’ To Start With 14,000 Titles
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Two Canadian cable operators, Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications, have taken the wraps off of “shomi,” a subscription video streaming service that will lock horns with Netflix, which launched services in Canada about four years ago.

Shomi, a joint venture equally owned by Rogers and Shaw, will launch the first week of November in beta form to the MSO’s broadband and TV customers. Shomi starting off with about 14,000 TV episodes and movie titles, including north of 11,000 hours of TV shows (340-plus TV series), and about 1,200 movies. Roughly 30% of that library is of Canadian origin, the companies said.

The service, which shares some similarities with Comcast’s subscription-based, multiscreen Streampix service, will sell for C$8.99 per month (US$8.20) and initially be offered on tablets, smartphones, the Xbox 360 and set-top boxes. Shomi, which will also feature trailers and movie factoids, will allow for up to six profiles per account and let subscribers watch on two devices, plus a set-top box, at the same time.

Ottawa-based You.i Labs, a company that came away with “Best New Idea” honors at the 2013 CableLabs Summer Conference, is supplying the engine that underpins the shomi user experience.

The operators said shomi is booting up with exclusive access to past-season streaming rights to shows such as Modern Family, Sons of Anarchy, Sleepy Hollow, Shameless, 2 Broke Girls, Vikings, New Girl, 24: Live Another Day, Chicago Fire, The Strain, and American Horror Story.

The launch comes about eight months after Rogers was said to be in talks with most major Hollywood studios about securing the digital rights for a subscription streaming service that could compete with Netflix, which launched in Canada on September 22, 2010. Netflix no longer breaks out how many subs it has in Canada, but it eclipsed the 1 million mark there in August 2011.

"We've taken the time to talk with Canadians to find out what they want and to create an unbelievable user experience," said Keith Pelley, president of Rogers Media, in a statement.

"They told us loud and clear – they want all the past seasons of the most popular, current TV shows and they want it to be easy.  shomi takes the guesswork out of finding what to watch, acting like a new-age video clerk serving up all the best content based on individual viewing habits."

"shomi is our first step into the new world of content streaming and we're so pleased to be able to bring this made in Canada service to the market,” added Barbara Williams, SVP of content for Shaw Media. reported that shomi, despite its lofty ambitions and its efforts to squeeze out Netflix by securing digital rights to valued content, could be considered a “tepid launch” in part because it’s initially offered only to subscribers of Shaw and Rogers, rather than a “bold launch of a pure OTT SVOD play made available to all Canadians.”