Rogers, Shaw launch SVOD service

Canadian cable giants Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications are jointly launching a subscription-based streaming service, shomi, in a bid to take on Netflix.

The service is launching in a beta phase in early November and will initially only be available to subscribers of Rogers and Shaw cable and internet packages. It will be priced the same as Netflix at $8.99 per month.

At launch, shomi will offer 1,200 movies and 11,000 hours of TV shows from 340 series, including exclusive past-season streaming rights to titles such as Modern Family, Sons of Anarchy, Sleepy Hollow, Shameless and American Horror Story.

It will also offer first-window premieres. 30% of the content is Canadian in keeping with local regulations for broadcasters. Subscribers will be able to access shows on-demand via phones, tablets, web browsers, set-top boxes and Xbox 360. The service allows for up to six profiles per account and lets subscribers watch on two devices, as well as a set-top box, at the same time.

“We’ve taken the time to talk with Canadians to find out what they want and to create an unbelievable user experience,” said Rogers Media president Keith Pelley. “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.”

“We keenly understand the media landscape is rapidly changing and that viewers are looking for greater flexibility when it comes to what they watch and how they watch it,” said Shaw Media senior VP, content, Barbara Williams.

Pelley also told Canada’s Globe And Mail newspaper that producing original programming is “definitely on our road map”. Cord-cutting is on the rise in Canada, as it is over the border in the US, with Netflix winning over an estimated four million subscribers in Canada since launching in 2010. Total cable and satellite subscribers declined for the first time in the year ending August 31, 2013.