Canada's Rogers and Shaw team up to take aim at Netflix

Looking to reclaim lost video subscriber share from all-you-can-watch online operators like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), Hulu and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Canadian pay-TV giants Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications have teamed up to launch their own subscription video-on-demand service, shomi.

Touting 340 TV series and 1,200 movies for streaming on IP devices, shomi will operate independently and charge subscribers $8.99 per month for a smorgasbord of premium, big-studio-made video.

The service will launch in November, emphasizing TV content, with many of the same shows that are also available on Netflix in the U.S., such as Sons of Anarchy and American Horror Story, and others that are not, such as Modern Family, Shameless, The Strain and Sleepy Hollow.

In keeping with Canadian media rules, 30 percent of the content offered on the SVOD service will be Canadian. There was no mention in the company's joint announcement about original series, but there were a few kicks that seem aimed squarely at Los Gatos, Calif.

For example, the announcement notes that a "team of entertainment experts" will "hand pick recommendations" for users, a shot that seems directed at Netflix's polarizing algorithmic selection process. Rogers and Shaw also say shomi is the answer to those who are "tired of watching outdated series," perhaps a slight to Netflix's library of archival titles.

The service will allow access to six users and two simultaneous streams per subscription. It will also employ Netflix-style algorithmic science to render user recommendations. 

"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, Rogers Media. "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."

Netflix first expanded its streaming service to Canada in 2010 and immediately proliferated in a region with higher broadband penetration than the U.S. In fact, a survey conducted in the fourth quarter of 2013 found that nearly 30 percent of English-speaking Canadians have a Netflix subscription.

For more:
- read this Rogers & Shaw press release
- read this TechCrunch story
- read this Toronto Globe and Mail story

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