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Canada Is Getting a New Video Streaming Service

Television industry responds to competitive threat from Netflix

Two of Canada’s largest cable television companies are putting their differences aside and joining forces to launch a new video streaming service as the industry responds in kind to competition from online players such as Netflix.

The new service, called shomi (pronounced: show me), will debut in November at a suggested retail price of $8.99 (Canadian) a month. It will be available on tablet, mobile, online, Xbox 360 and set top boxes, to Rogers and Shaw Internet and television customers.

Shomi will feature prior seasons of popular television shows, as well as iconic series from the past, cult classics and fan favorite films, the two companies said in a statement.

At launch, the shomi catalog will contain 11,000 hours of television shows and 1,200 movies; 30 percent of the content will be Canadian.

Shomi has exclusive past-season streaming rights to a number of popular titles, including Modern Family, Sons of Anarchy, Sleepy Hollow, Vikings, New Girl, 24: Live Another Day, Chicago Fire, The Strain and American Horror Story.

"We've taken the time to talk with Canadians to find out what they want and to create an unbelievable user experience," said Rogers Media president Keith Pelley. "They told us loud and clear—they want all the past seasons of the most popular, current TV shows and they want it to be easy. Shomi takes the guesswork out of finding what to watch, acting like a new-age video clerk serving up all the best content based on individual viewing habits."

Netflix in particular will prove to be a formidable competitor. Although the company does not disclose how many Canadian customers it has, estimates range as high as 5.8 million. However, there’s one point in shomi’s favor: Netflix Canada’s content is considered inferior to the content available in the United States, a weakness the programmers at shomi could exploit.

Earlier this year, online industry publication Cartt.ca reported that Rogers was spending more than $100 million to secure digital video rights with leading U.S. movie studios and distributors including Warner Bros., NBC Universal and 20th Century Fox.

Rogers and Shaw are joint owners of the new service, which will function as a standalone entity with its own management structure.

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