Shaw launches online video portal

VOD offers content from Universal, Maple, MGM

TORONTO -- "TV Everywhere" is catching on in Canada.

Western Canadian cable giant Shaw Communications on Thursday launched a new online video portal, Shaw Video on Demand, to enable subscribers to view content on their TV sets or computers at home or away via a broadband video player.

Calgary-based Shaw secured deals with Universal Studios, Maple Pictures and MGM to supply movies on its online video portal's appeal out of the gates.

Shaw also stands to acquire a host of U.S. network series for its online VOD offering when it completes the $2 billion purchase of Canwest Global Communications Corp.'s TV assets, pending court and creditor approvals.

Introduction of Shaw VOD comes a day after rival Quebec cable giant Groupe Videotron launched on-demand Illico Web service, which will offer 32 online channels of video and music programming.

Cable giant Rogers Communications got the Canadian video portal market rolling when it launched Rogers On Demand Online as a beta site in late 2009, followed by a similar "TV Everywhere" offering from Bell TV, and Quebec-based Radio-Canada introducing Tout.TV as an online extension of the French-language public broadcast service.

With the emergence of online TV video sites like Hulu, Canadian cable operators are providing their subscribers with online access to VOD libraries to dissuade customers from scaling back on cable packages or cutting the cord completely.