Entertainment Television

Web streaming service Shomi shutting down

By Mark Daniell, Bill Harris, QMIAgency

Keith Pelley, President, Rogers Media, left, and Barbara Williams, Senior Vice President, Content, Shaw Media are pictured as they unveiled "shomi" in the summer of 2014. (J.P. Moczulski for Postmedia Network)

Keith Pelley, President, Rogers Media, left, and Barbara Williams, Senior Vice President, Content, Shaw Media are pictured as they unveiled "shomi" in the summer of 2014. (J.P. Moczulski for Postmedia Network)

Shomi is planning its end credits on Nov. 30 after only two years in operation.

The web streaming service, which was co-owned by Rogers and Shaw, attributed the decision to a challenging online video marketplace.

It's an online world where, at the end of the day, you just have to be creating your own content, like Netflix has found a way to do. Shomi wasn't doing that, so the future, frankly, was bleak.

This could, however, open the door for Amazon coming to Canada.

"We're really grateful to Canadians who enthusiastically invited us into their living rooms and took us with them on their phones, tablets and laptops," said David Asch, Shomi’s senior vice-president and general manager, in a statement.

"The business climate and online video marketplace have changed markedly in the last few years. Combined with the fact that the business is more challenging to operate than we expected, we've decided to wind down our operations. We're proud of the great service we created and the role we played in the evolution of Canada's video landscape."

Shomi was made available to all Canadians — regardless of which Internet provider they used — last year.

“The beta has been a huge success and we’re excited to now bring it to all Canadians,” Asch said at the time. “We’ve taken the time to work out the kinks so members can enjoy a great user interface and viewing experience.”

The term "huge success" obviously was overstating it. If it had been a huge success, Shomi would not be shutting down.

Bell’s CraveTV went “direct to consumer” on Jan. 1 of this year. That service is facing many of the same challenges as Shomi, but CraveTV is bolstered by a lot of content deals for programming that airs on Bell's own premium channels, such as HBO or The Movie Network, which airs programming from Showtime.

Shomi had an exclusive deal to air Amazon’s Transparent, which is not available legally anywhere else in Canada. But primarily Shomi was stacked with past seasons of shows that already had been available in Canada on traditional TV. And that alone just isn't enough, even if we're talking about shows as critically acclaimed as Jane the Virgin or American Horror Story.

Plus, after Shaw sold its TV channels to Corus, Shaw's enthusiasm for the Shomi project obviously waned.

There had been rumours at one point that Shomi might try to seek a U.S. streaming partner, but if those whispers were true, they obviously have not amounted to anything at this point.

Streaming is going to have to find a way in Canada. It's the way of the future, so everyone says. But as often is the case in media, making a go of it financially north of the border is complex, to say the least.