Canadian Streaming Service Shomi to Shut Down

Amy Landecker Transparent s3 - H

Shomi launched in November 2014 for Rogers and Shaw cable subscribers.

Canadian cable giants Shaw Communications and Rogers Media are shutting down local subscription video-on-demand service Shomi, reducing competition against Netflix Canada.

David Asch, senior vp and general manager of Shomi, in a statement Monday blamed an online video marketplace in Canada that has "changed markedly" in recent years, a reference to the impact of Netflix launching north of the border in late 2010.

"Combined with the fact that business is more challenging to operate than we expected, we've decided to wind down our operations," Asch, a former Redbox and In Demand Networks executive who joined Shomi in mid-2015 to spearhead content acquisition and strategy, added.

Shomi launched in November 2014 for Rogers and Shaw cable subscribers, and expanded as a stand-alone Canadian streaming service in August 2015. The local streamer was heavily backed by licensing deals with NBCUniversal, Disney/ABC, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox that gave Shomi exclusive rights to popular American series like Transparent, Empire and Beta.

The upstart streamer also offered catch-up viewing for network shows like The Strain, New Girl, Elementary and Chicago Fire. But Shomi's fate appeared sealed in July 2016 when Shaw wrote down the value of its 50 percent stake in the SVOD, and had no additional comment on its future with the streaming joint venture.

That left Rogers to consider whether to continue operating Shomi on its own, even as it made little headway competing against local rival CraveTV and Netflix Canada online. Netflix currently has over 5 million Canadian subscribers, making it a streaming juggernaut.