Shomi, It Didn’t Have To Be This Way

welcome_canada_2015Yet another article from our guest blogger, Richard Gawlas. In this post, he writes about the competitive streaming service market, and how Shomi lost the battle and how Netflix came out on top!  Enjoy 🙂 

Shomi, the Rogers/Shaw-owned Canadian streaming service will be shuttering its doors on November 30 this year. I’ve read all about how competitive the landscape is, how they struggled to get a foothold against Netflix, how “Canadians may not be ready” for this many streaming services (I call shenanigans) and an executive at Solutions Research says “when people ask what you are doing tonight, you don’t say I will stream movies, you say ‘Netflix and chill'” (… FYI that doesn’t mean what you think it does.)

I loved Shomi. Granted, I only got into Shomi about two months ago (and I’ll explain why in a moment) but I loved it. The selection, the very playful brand attributes and its ‘human’ voice – Shomi was a worthy competitor to Netflix and, at the very least, it offered a lot of what I couldn’t watch on Netflix.

Shomi – you lost the streaming battle, but I would argue it didn’t have to be this way – there was (and still is) a place for a streaming competitor to Netflix in the Canadian landscape.

Where did you fail? I think it was your incorrect assumptions about Canadians (Yes, we want more streaming options) and the inability to invest as much as competitors, into the user experience. Let’s examine…


I only started watching Shomi two months ago. Why? Because it only just created an app for the Xbox One. It was available on most platforms, digital boxes and mobile devices, but in comparison – Netflix was on Xbox One since day one. When Shomi launched two years ago, they had an app for the Xbox 360 (already an out-dated machine by that time) and didn’t catch up until recently. Like many other Canadians, I stream all my entertainment through one source – and because it wasn’t a Rogers (or Rogers-approved) source, I missed out on early adoption.

Stream Quality

I’d sit down and start up Shomi, only to find that at least once a week, it was unwatchable because of stream quality. It would buffer every five to ten seconds – and this was on the lowest quality setting (I didn’t stream in HD or 4K). This was ironic, only because my internet connection was provided by Rogers – the same company offering Shomi – and upsetting, only because if I switched to Netflix (which I did when Shomi wouldn’t work), I would stream without interruption. This could be a problem only I faced, but in the event others had this problem, I felt it was worth mentioning.


When House of Cards came out on Netflix, I knew it was a game-changer. They’ve since developed so much (almost too much?) quality programming. But Shomi had nothing original. By its own admission, Shomi tried “to stand out by betting on movies and collections curated by humans rather than algorithms.” Though our economy is not that of the USA, I know we have room in our wallets to create quality content.


When I saw that I could subscribe to Shomi for free, just because I was a Rogers customer, I saw a red flag. I subscribed (even though Shomi didn’t develop the Xbox One app until many, many months later), but chewing off your own arm for the sake of subscriber numbers isn’t enough. It should have been something like Spotify for example, a “Get 1 month free” promotion, followed by “3 months at a discounted rate”. Not “eat into your own profits by offering it for free to existing customers”

I would have paid

I would have paid. I swear, if I had known they’d be shutting down in two months, I would have paidactual money, but they didn’t give me the chance to. Now I need to find somewhere else to stream the other 12 seasons of NCIS, and the other programming that Netflix doesn’t have the license to.

Shomi – I understand why you thought you couldn’t compete against Netflix, but I know you could have stayed in the game – you just didn’t give yourself enough credit.

Guest Blogger, Richard Gawlas

Marketer | Content Manager | Consultant | Storyteller

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