Rogers, Shaw challenge Netflix Canada with SVOD rival Shomi

As Canada's Rogers Media and Shaw Media co-launch Shomi, their JV competitor to Netflix, execs in Toronto outlined the strengths of their new video portal, which will launch in November.
August 27, 2014

Canada’s Rogers Media and Shaw Media have unveiled Shomi, a subscription-based VOD service that aims to take on streaming video players such as Netflix.

The new video portal promises a superior user interface, curated programming and content to rival Netflix, accord to top executives from both companies, who addressed a Toronto press conference yesterday (August 26).

But can Shomi really take on Netflix Canada, which launched in 2010 and has a head-start of some three million customers?

“Absolutely,” Rogers Media president Keith Pelley told press. “Our user interface is superior; the content we have is very recent.”

Barb Williams, Shaw Media’s senior VP of content, added: “We are, at our core, great broadcasters with great access to great content, with great connections to studios around the world.”

The launch comes as both cable and broadcast players look to boost their library content for Shomi, an SVOD service priced at CAD$8.99 (US$8.24) a month.

That means doing leading-edge deals with the major studios in Los Angeles that start with traditional linear rights and then pursue VOD, online streaming and mobile streaming and SVOD rights.

“All those deals become more complicated and more layered and it will be important to us that we’re getting the content we want and will serve all those platforms because our customers are expecting it,” Williams argued.

The aim, Pelley added, is to offer current seasons of popular shows on Rogers and Shaw’s existing conventional and specialty platforms, and VOD, and then to stream past seasons of those series on Shomi. The Shaw GO digital app will remain in place, as will Rogers on Demand.

“We see this as complementary to what we already offer viewers. Global GO will remain, and as a new season of Sleepy Hollow stacks on Global GO, past seasons will be on Shomi,” Williams said.

In all, Shomi will feature some 14,000 episodes and movie titles when it launches in beta stage in November. The testing phase is expected to run from six to 12 months as the joint venture between Rogers and Shaw makes tweaks based on customer feedback, and takes on new distribution partners.

Shomi will launch with around 30% Canadian content, much of that coming from national pubcaster the CBC as part of a programming supply deal.

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