Time to cut cable? Shomi launches Tuesday

Time to cut cable? Shomi launches Tuesday

Service could prompt some to ditch their premium cable packages

(Buck5150/Getty Images)

(Buck5150/Getty Images)

The question of whether to cut out cable TV is more than a tech-nerd’s online pet project. Nearly 10% of English-speaking Canadians do not pay for cable or satellite—a number that’s doubled since 2011, according to Media Technology Monitor (MTM). But despite grievances (mostly related to the high cost of cable), the vast majority of Canadians still haven’t opted to cut the cord for one simple reason: There are few alternatives for watching popular prime-time programs.

A new entry is a joint venture between Shaw and Rogers (which owns MoneySense) called shomi (pronounced show-me). Officially launching Tuesday, shomi is a subscription video-on-demand service that will be made available to Rogers and Shaw customers to start, but there are discussions with Bell and Telus to expand the offering to all Canadians with an Internet connection.

Until now, anyone considering cutting the cable was left with one of two choices for watching TV (or a combination of both):

  • Over-the-air antenna, which provides about 20 high-definition channels, but only if you have the right antenna, on the right part of your roof, facing the right way;
  • Or, buy an Xbox, PlayStation, or any other tech-gadget that allows you to connect your TV to the Internet and gives you access to online streaming services, such the Canadian edition of Netflix, or the expensive pay-per-view selections of Google TV and Apple TV.

Shomi offers yet another option to access a wide range of programming without paying for a premium cable package.

Like Netflix, shomi is being offered to new subscribers for free for 30 days. After that subscribers are charged $8.99 per month. But unlike Netflix, shomi subscribers will continue to get access to U.S. and Canadian hit TV series, such as, Sons of Anarchy, Modern Family, American Horror Story, Scandal, Vikings and 24: Live Another Day, as well as shows with cult followings, such as, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Revenge, New Girl and 2 Broke Girls. The monthly streaming service will also give subscribers access to past movie hits, fan-favourite films, cult-classics and family-friendly kids movies and TV shows. In all, shomi subscribers can expect to get approximately 12,000 hours of content (or about 1,200 movies and 340 TV titles).

Shomi will also offer ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and movie trailers before selecting a movie to watch—just like the cable-TV viewers can expect from their on-demand experience. Shomi is also the only online streaming service that will not rely solely on viewer algorithms to surface content, but offers a human touch with guest curators and entertainment experts offering up suggestions to viewers.

Of course, viewers that are tech-savvy enough to bypass Netflix’s geo-location coding and gain access to the company’s U.S. TV and movie selections—by using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)—will not consider shomi’s content robust enough, but for those of us without a computer engineering degree that still want to cut our cable bill, shomi may be an option worth considering.