Shomi in Brand Channel

By Sheila Shayon

November 29, 2014

Shomi, the Canadian streaming video-on-demand service that launched this month, aims to slow growth of Netflix Canada with binge-worthy hits such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black.

To do so, shomi is programming and leveraging U.S. content like those hit shows—and other titles including The Blacklist2 Broke GirlsTwo and a Half MenDaVinci’s DemonsAmerican Horror StorySons of AnarchyWilfredModern Family and Sleepy Hollow—to attract and build a loyal audience.

The subscription video on demand (SVOD) brand’s backers—Canadian cable giants Shaw Media and Rogers Media—are dipping into a $100 million war chest to license in-demand titles from Disney/ABC, CBS, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Starz Digital Media and BBC Worldwide.

The service, launching with 12,000 hours of content (movies and TV shows) in year one, is available to Rogers and Shaw cable and broadband customers, free of data fees. Priced at $8.99/month (with a free 30-day trial), it promises to deliver U.S. shows to Canadian subscribers sooner than Netflix.

Launch marketing include a heavy social push (hashtag: #readysetshomi), an upcoming Xbox 360 app and a landmark test of Twitter cards in Canada. And content. Tons of great content.

As for how it’s differentiating its brand, Carolyn Ray, Managing Director of Interbrand Canada, commented that “shomi’s story is partly about brands collaborating to put the customer first, knowing that the average Canadian owns over four digital devices each.”

brandchannel spoke with Marni Shulman, Head of Content and Programming for shomi, about the importance of foreign content to a Canadian digital broadband brand—and any plans for original programming to celebrate its homeland.

brandchannel: What is shomi’s biggest bet against Netflix in Canada?

Marni Shulman: I don’t think it’s any one title, but rather the strength and diversity of shomi’s overall content offering. We have exclusive titles that are some of the most popular and talked about cable and network hits, like Sons of AnarchyScandalJane the Virgin and Vikings, that you won’t find on Netflix. That, coupled with our human-curated recommendations and collections, is what we are betting on.

bc: Is binge-viewing now a factor in how you buy and schedule your content? 

Shulman: It absolutely is. We are always looking for multi-season, binge-worthy series—which to us is not simply the long-running series. It’s about compelling characters and immersive stories that you just can’t get enough of. You need to know what’s going to happen and you need to know that now, not next week. Plus, you can’t discount the added benefit of the convenience and control that binge-viewing allows.

bc: When do you expect your movie offerings to amp up—and what is your ideal blend of movie versus TV titles? 

Shulman: We’ve struck the optimal balance between TV and movie content based on what our viewers want to see. I think we have a great foundation of movie content—these are some of the best movies ever made. And with our curated collections, viewers can rediscover amazing stories and fall in love with them all over again.

Having said that, we are always adding new content to shomi and will continue to look for ways to expand and enhance our overall content catalogue to make sure our users can always find something great to watch.

bc: Any plans for original programming yet, or further down the road? 

Shulman: This is something that we are definitely exploring. It’s on our roadmap, but in the meantime, we will be making some very exciting announcements in the coming weeks about content that is exclusive to shomi—content you cannot get anywhere else in Canada.

We are proud to be a Canadian service and as such, definitely have a desire to support homegrown Canadian talent and the great stories they have to tell.

bc: How do you see the landscape for streaming services like shomi and competitors playing out in the next the five years?

Shulman: We can already see a proliferation of streaming services in the U.S. with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, as well as studios like CBS, Sony, and HBO developing their own SVOD (offerings). Watching trends out of the U.S., we know consumers subscribe to more than one service. But I don’t think there will be room in Canada for too many more larger services like shomi or Netflix.

Much like the introduction and growth of specialty broadcast channels, I think in addition to the larger, general interest services, we will likely start to see smaller, niche services develop as well. You could imagine a world where multicultural and other genre-specific SVODs pop up.

By Sheila Shayon on November 28, 2014 Shomi, the Canadian streaming video-on-demand service that launched this month, aims to slow growth of Netflix Canada with binge-worthy hits such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. To do so, shomi is …

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