Shomi to Expand as Standalone Canadian Streaming Service

Transparent Still - H 2014
Beth Dubber

Transparent Still - H 2014

TV viewers north of the border will be able to watch shows like 'Transparent,' 'Betas' and 'Mozart in the Jungle' without a cable subscription.

Canadian cable giants Shaw Media and Rogers Media are expanding their upstart streaming service Shomi in a move that amps up the competition against Netflix Canada.

When it expands this summer, Shomi will be available to Canadian cord-cutters on tablets, mobile, online, Xbox 360, Apple TV, Chromecast, as well as on cable set-top boxes, the cablers announced Wednesday.

Shomi since launching in a beta stage in November 2014 has been available only to Shaw and Rogers cable subscribers. The Canadian streamer, which has secured licensing deals with NBCUniversal, Disney/ABC, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Starz Digital Media, will risk reducing Shaw and Rogers' existing cable TV subscriber base still further to compete against Netflix.

The bet is that giving Shomi customers access to Transparent, Betas and Mozart in the Jungle — as well as catch-up viewing rights to series that include Sons of Anarchy, The Americans and Vikings — will be enough to draw Canadians away from Netflix Canada, which launched in late 2010.

Shomi launching as a standalone streaming service follows former Redbox and In Demand Networks executive David Asch becoming senior vp and general manager, set to spearhead content acquisition and strategy. "We know more Canadians want the bleary-eyed but oh so satisfying experience of an epic entertainment binge, and that they want the freedom to choose how they access the service," Asch said in a statement.

Shomi is also getting set for HBO's standalone streaming service, which may become available in Canada after 2018, when its current exclusive license in Canada to Corus Entertainment and Bell Media expires.