Tag Archives: Shomi

You Can’t Always Get What You Want . . .

I’m talking OTT and SVOD in Canada here so I’m not going to finish the quote. As mentioned earlier, I played around with Shomi during the free 30 day trial that I was entitled to as a Rogers subscriber. Then Bell Media was nice enough to give me a 30 day guest pass to the mobile version of CraveTV (since I’m not a Bell subscriber that’s all I could get). So I’ve played around a little, to the extent possible.

Here’s my problem. What I would really like to have is impossible either because of outdated business models, Canadian broadcast regulation or a lack of Canadian OTT regulation. I’m stuck.

I would like to have a service that flows seamlessly between my television and my iPad (my kid would also like it to work on her shiny new Nexus phone) so that I could switch platforms in mid-episode or at least keep track of which episode I’m on in mid-binge. This is possible with Netflix but not possible with Shomi and CraveTV because they are licensed separately (OTT being exempt from regulation and SVOD being fully regulated).

I would like a Canadian service that supports Canadian programming on all of its platforms. Shomi and CraveTV have to make a contribution to Canadian programming and provide a quota on their SVOD platforms according to VOD regulation, but have no such obligation for their OTT platforms. Netflix has no requirement at all.

I would like to watch the Golden Globes and know that I have access to the cool new shows like “Transparent” (Shomi announced during the awards that they will be carrying it, it is on OTT Amazon Studios in the U.S.) and “House of Cards” (on Netflix) without having to pay separate OTT subscriptions for each one. Exclusivity is a model that only frustrates the consumer in the Internet world.

I would like to be able to be a Rogers cable, internet and wireless subscriber (well, maybe not but I am anyway) and subscribe to CraveTV. CraveTV is only available to Bell, Telus and a few smaller BDUs and is unlikely to be available to subscribers of their competition. While Shomi and CraveTV are very similar in how they work, and both have lovely interfaces on the mobile platforms (though both were buggy on their web platforms), I would like to have the option to subscribe to CraveTV if I want to and not be locked in to Shomi because of my cable provider.

So, as a Canadian and a lover of television, CRTC regulation and the BDU business models are not working for me right now.

Shomi – I Get It Now

If you follow my twitter feed then you know that I’ve been very puzzled by the regulation around the new Shomi service. Shomi is a partnership of Shaw and Rogers, which provides film and television programming through laptop, tablet and set top cable box.   I think I’ve figured it out.

The Rogers FAQ states that most Rogers customers will access Shomi through the set top box and then online through authenticated access. For those customers, it says, Shomi is subscription video-on-demand. For Internet-only customers, Shomi operates under the Digital Media Exemption Order (“DMEO”) as an OTT service.

Setting aside the fact that regulation isn’t based on customer billing, I couldn’t figure out how one service could be both OTT and exempt and SVOD and regulated at the same time. Was it not one service that is either regulated or exempt (though I admit exemption is regulation, I do mean by that subject to the significantly lesser regulation under the DMEO)?

It was suggested to me that I was looking at this wrong. It’s not one service but two. There is the SVOD service that is subject to VOD regulation and the OTT service that is exempt under the DMEO. They have different catalogues because of rights issues and regulatory obligations. And they are definitely different experiences. I had difficulty authenticating on my laptop (problems with it recognizing that I wasn’t blocking cookies, which I understand others have experienced) but was able to download the app and log on, on my tablet.   The tablet experience is quite similar to Netflix. However, unlike Netflix the two services are not linked so I cannot flip back and forth while watching a program or even keep track on VOD of where I am in a series I’m watching on the tablet. Two services.

Now I wonder how the contribution to Canadian programming will be calculated for revenues generated by customers who access both the SVOD and the OTT services.  Rogers and Shaw know just how many hours are spent on each platform so that should be easily and fairly allocated if they release that data to the CRTC.

So there’s work still to do but I at least have a grasp of the regulation now and that makes me happy. Will I keep subscribing to Shomi after my free trial? Honestly, if I could get the interface experience of OTT on VOD, I would be willing to pay the additional fee. But then I’d be back to being confused.