Rogers, Shaw Take Aim at Netflix

In a bold joint venture, Canada's two largest pay-TV providers -- Rogers and Shaw -- are teaming up to launch a subscription video-on-demand service that will compete with Netflix in the Canadian market.

Dubbed shomi, the new VoD service will be available from November for C$8.99 per month and will include more than 11,000 hours of TV episodes and 1,200 movies. The service will also provide personalized video recommendations through a combination of data-driven technology and input from human experts. Subscribers will be able to access video content on set-tops and the Xbox 360, as well as on the web, tablets and smartphones.

Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) and Shaw Communications Inc. aren't the only ones experimenting with subscription on-demand services. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) continues somewhat quietly to market Streampix as an over-the-top offering for subscribers at a price point of only $4.99 per month. The service is bundled for free with higher-tier service packages.

At the same time, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has partnered with The Chernin Group to invest in online video businesses, and Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) has promised to launch an OTT video service before the end of the year. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), meanwhile, offers Redbox Instant by Verizon. However, at $8 per month, that service only includes movies and video games. Redbox Instant subscriptions are also tied to DVD rentals available through the company's in-store kiosks. (See Redbox Falls Flat in Streaming Space.)

Get the latest updates on new OTT video services by visiting Light Reading's OTT video content channel.

On the technology front, shomi will rely on the user interface company YOUi Labs Inc. to power its UI for mobile devices using iOS and Android. In an interview, You.i told us that its You.I Engine compiles the interface down to one code base for multiscreen distribution, which allows it to deliver performance levels significantly above what competitors can offer. You.i was a winner at the CableLabs summer conference in 2013 for "best new idea" for its gesture-based UI framework. Gesture control for the primary television screen is not part of You.i's contribution to shomi as the company is only responsible for the video interface on tablets and smartphones. (See Motion Control UI Scores Big .)

Additional information from the shomi press release indicates that the service includes enhanced features including "trailers and factoids for movie titles," and allows customers to access content with up to six different user profiles per account. The service will be available initially in beta to Rogers and Shaw TV and Internet customers. Rogers and Shaw say that shomi will operate as a separate entity from both companies and will maintain an independent management structure.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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pcharles09 9/23/2014 | 9:28:24 PM
Re: Shomi the money! @Liz G,

That's the point I'm at now. I feel like TWC is throttling my Internet bandwidth because I refuse to upgrade to their 3x play package.
Liz Greenberg 9/2/2014 | 10:52:48 PM
Re: Shomi the money! No problem,  for me it is a cost trade  off between individual sports subscriptions and the cost of the cable/TV providers. Whichever wins that war wins me...
pcharles09 8/31/2014 | 10:41:39 PM
Re: Shomi the money! @ Liz G,

Excellent. That's exactly what I was looking to hear. Thanks.
For the most part, WatchESPN will cover me. For the other add-ons, I'd have to already have the extra subscriptions, which I don't.
Liz Greenberg 8/28/2014 | 1:01:26 PM
Re: Shomi the money! Thanks for the tip about the Plex software...I didn't know about it.  I will look into it for a nice upgrade.
Liz Greenberg 8/28/2014 | 12:58:43 PM
Re: Shomi the money! @kbode...the day the NFL wakes up and has a Roku channel I will finally cancel TV.  I would pay for their service and the MLB.  Because I am stuck with TV for NFL I don't bother with an MLB purchase on Roku.  I do however, have my AFL (Aussie Rules Football) subscription so that I can watch on my computer.  Roku doesn't carry it unfortunately.
KBode 8/28/2014 | 8:41:44 AM
Re: Shomi the money! I've been consistently impressed with MLB offerings over Roku and the like. I'm still waiting for the day when the NFL wakes up, ditches the DirecTV (soon to be AT&T) exclusivity contract, and makes their content as easy and inexpensive to access -- in the process opening the door to many millions more paying customers.
KBode 8/28/2014 | 8:40:03 AM
Re: Shomi the money! I agree. I have the Roku 3 and use it with Plex software, and it does considerably more than even the next-generation gaming consoles -- which are supposed to be dedicated to, and specifically aimed at, the next-generation connected living room. I've tinkered some with the Apple TV and the GUI seems clunky in comparison (strange, for a company so loved when it comes to design).
KBode 8/28/2014 | 8:38:35 AM
Re: Shomi the money! Again though, such a service if done right would have provided better value than the traditional massive bundles of cable channels, causing companies to lose money. They can't build a better moustrap in this instance because everyone would leave their old, outdated system of over-priced channel bundles behind...
Liz Greenberg 8/27/2014 | 11:36:53 PM
Re: Shomi the money! I am a huge sports fan (working on fantasy football draft at the moment). According to Roku,  "Roku streams the biggest selection of live streaming sports packages out there, including WATCH ESPN, MLB.TV, NBA League Pass Broadband, NHL GameCenter, MLS LIVE, UFC, WWE, and more. International sports offerings on Dishworld include Indian Premier League cricket and Brazilian pro soccer."

They use to have Aussie Rules Football on MHz but no more.  The issue isn't really Roku but really the NFL, etc who control where the games are broadcast.  So hopefully they will follow the MLB and create their own streaming channel  for a reasonable subscription fee.
MikeP688 8/27/2014 | 10:04:06 PM
Re: Shomi the money! If Iran's State Broadcaster can figure out a way to get into the game, it seems to me that the large players amongst us can do no less--even though Time Warner did not do the Industry too much favor when it suffered an outage that impacted its' customers in its' entire system.
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