Shomi Digital TV in Canada

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As a family we walked away from cable years ago in exchange for cheaper and more flexible digital streaming options. Shomi is a new player in this digital arena and I had the chance to spend the night at the Hazelton Hotel for a binge watching exposure to the new service.

A joint venture between Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications, Shomi wants to bring the excitement of discovering new shows and enjoying old favourites. It wants to make you love TV again. Of course I think the growth of independent streaming services like Netflix is more the reason for Shomi’s arrival. What entertainment business wouldn’t want to try and get a piece of that pie? But does it deliver?

 

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We’ve been Netflix subscribers for years so I was curious how the Shomi experience would compare.

Shomi is designed to feed your need to binge on your favourite shows with 80% of its programming as episodic TV, 19% movies and 1% for other programming like concerts. It’s true, you won’t find the latest season of your favourite shows on Shomi but that’s pretty much the case with Netflix too. What you will find are all the previous seasons of programs you love and want to watch again or shows you’ve heard everyone talking about but haven’t yet checked them out.

Shomi Digital Streaming Canada Preview WatchingTV

There are a number of features that families will love about Shomi:

  • Up to six profiles can be set-up under one account, which means you won’t see Dora in your recommended list. My family of five have very different viewing tastes so individual profiles are a plus.
  • Not all content on Shomi is appropriate for your littlest family members but the kid profile option enables parents to keep this content from showing up within their profile.
  • The graphic display makes it easier to find shows you love with a quick glance.
  • If you have to stop mid show Shomi will remember your spot so you can pick up the show without starting from the beginning.
  • When searching for a show you’ll more than likely find other programs that are of interest but you’re not in the mood to watch at that moment. You can save these to watch later. No need to bang your head on the table to try and remember the show’s name. What? Am I the only one who does that?
  • Shomi works on multiple devices from your TV and computer to your tablet and smartphone. At launch Shomi will only be available to Rogers and Shaw customers through their set top boxes, as well as Xbox and some mobile devices. Their plan is to roll out their service to more devices like AppleTV and other gaming devices.

Shomi Digital Streaming Canada Preview Tablet

These are all great features but nothing really new compared to the experience I already enjoy on Netflix. What really intrigues me about the Shomi service is how it curates its content. Unlike Netflix traditional classifications like thriller, action adventure and comedy, Shomi curates its content based on a theme. Comicon Hangover will bring you some of your favourite comic heroes and villains like Spiderman and Hulk. Bad Romance will show you Something About Mary and Knotting Hill.

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I love this idea of discovering programming based on an area of interest versus just a genre. Plus the plan is to get guest curators to put collections together. I have visions of Saturday Night at the Movies when two seeminly unrelated shows were paired together, often leading to discovering a new favourite. That’s what I see behind guest curatoring. People with a particular passion sharing their suggestions.

Of course you can only curate based on what is available. I was able to find The Millionaire Tour, a mini series that I have never heard of before and absolutely loved, but most of the other programming seemed limited compared to what I already have access to on Netflix. The kids programming especially needs some work unless you have a toddler or preschooler. My kids – 8, 10, and 12 – would be hard pressed to find much programming to interest them.

Not being a Rogers or Shaw customer might be a drawback to the service at the moment as it means mostly watching it on mobile devices (not my favourite viewing option especially if you’re trying to watch something with another person).

Shomi Digital Streaming Canada Preview BingeTV

The content agreements Shomi has signed plus the development of original content will hopefully lead to an expanded list of programming making it a more viable streaming option. The $8.99 monthly fee is inline with the likes of Netflix and the ability to start and stop at any point (no contract or agreement) makes it something worth checking out to see if it’s a fit for your family. In the meantime I’m just going to wait and see.

 Thanks to the folks at Shomi Canada for the chance to experience the new service first hand and the hospitality of the Hazelton Hotel. Screenshot images courtesy of Shomi.

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