Canada’s Shaw Communications took its X1 licensing deal to the next level Wednesday with the introduction of BlueSky TV, the brand for a new TV service that is powered by Comcast’s cloud-based platform.
Shaw’s new service, initially offered to customers in Calgary, will feature several features that grace Comcast’s X1 service, such as the voice remote, Kids Zone, a sports app, and a whole-home DVR, but not yet a newer cloud DVR capability that Comcast has been rolling out across its footprint. Comcast has also integrated Netflix with X1.
Shaw said it will launch BlueSky TV to more markets in the coming months. Shaw is selling BlueSky TV starting at C$99.90 (US$75.85) a month for 12 months when subs bundle in the MSO's when coupled with its WideOpen Internet 150 tier as part of a two-year "ValuePlan."
The launch of the X1-based pay TV service follows Shaw’s launch last year of a TV Everywhere app called FreeRange TV that also leans on Comcast’s platform.
Shaw’s latest launch marks another win for Comcast’s strategy to expand the scale of its technology (and recoup some of the costs associated with it) beyond its own footprint. Comcast’s X1 syndication plans picked up steam again after the MSO failed in its bid to acquire Time Warner Cable.
Cox Communications has already deployed an X1-based product, under the Contour brand, across its service area. Another Canadian operator, Rogers Communications, recently struck a long-term strategic deal to deploy Comcast’s X1 platform and usher in a next-gen IPTV service that will sebut in "early 2018," effectively killing another IPTV project that Rogers had under development.
Shaw, which grapples with Telus and its Optik TV service, will be looking for the new service to help its video business return to growth. Shaw lost 22,171 residential cable video subs in Q3 2016, ending the period with 1.67 million.
“We are proud to be the first in Canada to pioneer Comcast’s ground-breaking technology and to be their first international partner,” Shaw CEO Brad Shaw said in a statement.
“With features like the voice remote and advanced search, X1 has given Comcast customers a completely different video and entertainment experience than what they’re used to in the home,” added Tony Werner, Comcast’s president, technology and product. “We’ve seen a tremendous response from millions of customers in the U.S. and we’re excited Shaw’s customers will soon experience the same game-changing TV platform.”
More to come…