This week, Rogers and Shaw teamed up to launch shomi, their attempt to unseat Netflix as Canada’s go-to for streaming television and video entertainment. At launch, Rogers boasts that shomi has more than 12,000 hours of telvision and movie content. And while this TV Addict is inclined to agree with David Purdy (SVP, Product Management Video & Content) who proudly proclaimed that the service “combines binge-worthy television shows and Hollywood hits,” whether or not one should ‘shomi the money’ (See what we did there!), is another question entirely. And quite frankly, one that we’ve been struggling to answer all week. But before we get into the downside of shomi’s launch, let us start with the positive shall we.
As advertised, shomi has done an admirable job of replicating the Netflix experience by offering up a colourful collection of popular television shows and movies available across all devices. By combining catalogues from parent companies Rogers and Shaw, there is quite something for TV Addicts of all ages. What’s more, in an attempt to differentiate themselves from the incumbent, shomi has cleverly hired actual human beings to curate collections such as “Comic Con Hangover,” “The Art of War” and “Gretzky has the Ball” to name a few. Also of note, their “shomi later” and “shomi history” features, the former of which allows viewers to create a playlist of must-sees to watch later with the latter allowing users to see their viewing history and continue watching shows they may have stopped part-way through.
Content wise, shomi has plenty of binge-worthy television shows and a handful of popular movies. And while we’re not going to complain about any service that makes available such TV Addict favorites like THE WEST WING, BUNHEADS, JANE THE VIRGIN, ALIAS, PART DOWN and many more we’d list by name if the service would allow us to log in*, the majority of the shows aren’t exclusive to the service and are also available on Netflix. Which brings me to the first of our two serious issues with shomi.
* Since shomi is technically launching in “beta,” we are going to gloss over the plethora of technical difficulties it seems to have launched with. Including but not limited to… the fact that it hasn’t been able to remember where we stopped watching Notting Hill, a somewhat sluggish interface and a serious unreliability when it comes to logging in and out of the service.
The single biggest issue we have with shomi is that it is completely devoid of original content.** And while the service gets point for launching with plenty of kids content, quality television shows and movies we love (“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy…”), there is no must-see show akin to Netflix’s HOUSE OF CARDS, or Netflix’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK or Netflix… well, you get the idea! Look, if we were one of the increasingly large number of Canadians cutting the cable cord, it would be a different story. But since we still pay for cable (You’re welcome Rogers), subscribe to Netflix and don’t have kids to entertain 24/7 (Sorry Mom!) we simply can’t justify recommending a service that offers very little we don’t already have access to. We also won’t tout a service that is only available to a handful of Canadians, which brings us two issue number two.
** shomi recently announced plans to launch an original Canadian drama to be produces in partnership with Rogers and, curiously enough, rival network Netflix.
WIth shomi’s launch leaving Bell customers out in the cold, I’m once again left with the unsettling feeling that parent companies Rogers and Shaw care more about the bottom line then they do building an amazing product. When will Rogers, Shaw and Bell learn that GREAT companies like Amazon, Apple and Netflix release products that put their customers first while companies more interested in serving shareholders release a product with strings attached***. Suffice it so say, if there is any truth to the saying “you only get one chance to make a good first impresesion” shomi failed spectacularly so. Worse still, launching shomi as an exclusive for Rogers and Shaw customers all but guarantees that when Bell releases their currently-in-delveopment “Project Latte” it will be exclusive to their customers. Thus, continuing the petty and small-minded pattern of Canadian cable conglomeretes doing nothhing but infuritating hard-working and honest customers for choosing one service over the other. But I digress.
*** Strings like tacky upsells upon sign up that offer shomi to Rogers customers free of charge, but only if one agrees to sign up for far pricier tier of internet service.
The bottom line is, that despite the fact that we will not commit to spending $8.99 per month for shomi until they expand their offerings and produce original and compelling content that we can’t see anywhere else, we approve of their service and look forward to checking back with them once they drop the “beta.” If for no other reason than competition is not only good for customers, but something we’re sorely lacking up here in Hollywood North.