shomi Review: Why We’re Not Buying What Rogers and Shaw are Selling (At Least Not Yet!)

shomi

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.

Related: We Review Bell Media’s shomi competitor CRAVETV

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  • ngoal

    There a serious lack of children content on shomk compared to Netflix. There’s really only dora . the rest was already available from rogers on demand for free

  • James Graham

    I was hoping that for $8.99 + tax, that Shomi would be offering new movie releases (those recently available on DVD) but unfortunately they have showed me nothing new.

  • Dan

    I’ll give it a shot once they drop the having to be subscribed to Shaw already.. It’s an alternative to cable..but you have to own cable..

  • Yeah I’m gonna stick with netflix which has better programing and I don’t have to owe cable. Thanks but no thanks

  • BrosnanBlogs

    Netflix has to be the biggest name in the online streaming market with worldwide coverage and a gross of billions in revenue. Why would any company try and compete with them when they have less viewing material and a higher price for subscription?

  • SkepticsRUs

    The technical difficulties are more than a little tedious. I signed up for the free trial today only to discover that I had already apparently started a free three weeks ago when I first started signing up but really thought I had quit before completing. This time the signup process put me into an endless loop until a Shaw technician eventually solved it for me. I then had to create a Shaw email account in order to access the service, but my attempt to create an email address failed with no reason given. The technician could see my new email but could not get it to work either so he created a new email address for me. OK, so now I have a Shomi trial account but I can’t get anything to play in my browser. I get nothing but a nice blank purple window. On my third try to watch the same movie I was told I can only stream two things at a time unless I “pull serious rank” with someone already watching something else. The overly chummy interface tries too hard to be cute. It is a turn-off for me. Besides I have no clue how I would see who else is watching what on my account or how to stop one of the other streams. Besides all that the collections are lame (does anyone really need a whole collection of Adam Sandler). If you have young kids there is plenty of choice. If not don’t bother.

  • Nora Verruca

    All episodes of Modern Family were free on Rogers on Demand. Now they have been moved over to “Shomi”.

  • Jewels Ten

    So, I am deaf and count on captioning. Shomi does not support captioning. I will be cancelling my subscription. Unbelievable!

  • Gord Harris

    If Rogers is involved…it will in all likelihood be over priced and it will not work properly just like their hardware!!!

  • Gord Harris

    No surprise Nora, like I said if Rogers is involved they will be looking to screw people out of more money…

  • Mandy

    Shomi sucks. Apparently I get it temporarily for being a Rogers customer?…but honestly, it’s a complete joke. %50 of the time it doesn’t work AT ALL. When it does decide to play something for me, if I stop it or pause it, it won’t work again!! There’s nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of a movie & have it just stop playing. This program is RIDICULOUS! What baffles me the most is that people actually pay money for this junk! SMH. Typical Rogers.

  • GoodIdea

    It does now. It’s in your profiles under closed captioning.

  • is it Monday

    what I find frustrating is we get stuck with programs under the guise of “Canadian Content” which is usually boring but likely cheaper for them what a joke
    recently there was a free trial of Hollywood Suite movie channels and out of every 7 movies there might be one interesting one …

  • Paul Woods

    Almost every movie I search for isn’t available, and I’m talking about Almost Famous, High Fidelity, Adventureland, and Empire Records. I can find Stranger Than Fiction online, but not on my Rogers Shomi. Why is that?

  • Norma Sorensen

    You don’t need to have Shaw cable–I was offered a free trial because I have Shaw internet.
    My biggest beef is that it doesn’t work with any device I currently own aside from my laptop. It also seems to have very little that Netflix doesn’t. So–trying the free trial, but already losing interest staring at the lap top screen…I already do that half the day at work…

  • Mark

    Whatever you do, do not join shomi through your Rogers Digital Cable box. There is apparently no intention to ever offer the same selection of shows that are available to Shaw Digital Box or users that stream through another device. Shomi charges $8.99 per month, for many shows that are easily 10 years old (One Tree Hill, anyone?). Also, when you complain to Rogers about a shomi issue, they eventually email you a ticket number with a phone number to call. Nobody ever answers that telephone and there is no voicemail, or option to press 0 to reach another employee.

    Contacting shomi directly, is typical customer service. Content is not their problem. Shows disappearing from the menu months or years prior to the “Available Date” listed is not their problem. Shaw Digital Cable customers get shomi to give step by step instructions on how to add content to their digital box, but there is no such option for Rogers customers. Don’t get too involved or binge too much, because it really sucks when you find a show that you’ve been missing out on, and you go to watch more of it later and it has been completely removed.

    I would give shomi a 2/5 for content, I would give shomi a 1/5 for technical support and 0/5 for usability.

    Rogers, as usual, expensive, and honestly don’t give a crap about their customers.

  • John Nobody

    once they knock out NetFlix , it will be monopoly of big two again. I doubt Shaw/Rogers will offer any new contents that are going to bring down their pay per view business.

  • Gen L

    Shomi is included in my internet/cable package which is the only reason I have it because it’s pretty awful. It takes forever to go through the menus, which you have to do after EVERY EPISODE (probably because it’s set up like an On Demand service, not a streaming service) and it seems to have very limited selection. Modern Family is featured in the commercials (which play on the main menu) but not offered. Sleepy Hollow is listed, but has zero episodes attached. It’s sort of a mess and I feel bad for anyone paying for it.

  • Gen L

    They’re not even available for me. Even though it’s in the commercials.

  • Gen L

    That is actually pretty unbelievable.

  • Gen L

    It’s so unbelievably terrible that I doubt there’s much danger at that.

  • StarGeezer

    I get Shomi included in my Rojerks Internet package free until …? I can’t even imagine paying for this third rate Netflix knockoff. That’s the only reason I even bother to look at it. In the 3 months I’ve been subscribed I have yet to find ANYTHING worth looking at that I don’t already get either from Netflix or for free from other sources. Their (Shomi) site is so poorly organised that it’s difficult to find content of interest. And I can’t be bothered to look at their bogus collections. Just another tedious layer to find content. It’s almost as if Shomi doesn’t want you to find anything interesting. Just collect the subscription fee and provide nothing in return. I really hope Shomi AND Crave die a swift death.

  • Travis Ulrich

    Shomi is pure evil. Rogers & Shaw have no intention of making this a money-making venture, they just want a platform with which to outbid Netflix for distribution rights into Canada for domestic and foreign content. That is it. Do not subscribe, even for a trial. Firstly because they make you jump through hoops to unsubscribe and secondly because it gives them more amo to portray themselves as a player when bidding for distribution rights.