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Rogers, Shaw poised to launch Netflix-like video streaming service

A man speaks on his cell phone in front of a Rogers Communications Inc sign

MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

Two of Canada's largest cable television distributors are expected to announce the launch of a joint video streaming service on Tuesday, in a bid to bolster their positions against growing competition from online services such as Netflix Inc.

Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc. have scheduled a 10 a.m. event, to be co-hosted by Dina Pugliese of City's Breakfast Television, in Toronto on Tuesday. An advisory promises a product launch and demo for something cryptically referred to as "The Loch Ness Monster."

The product in question is believed to be a new online video streaming platform. Earlier this year, online industry publication Cartt.ca reported that Rogers was spending more than $100-million to secure digital video rights for an over-the-top service rumoured to be called Showmi. One e-mail invitation to Tuesday's event referred to the product as "Gladiator."

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The Globe and Mail reported as early as last year that Rogers was in negotiations to establish such a service.

In an interview in May of 2013, David Purdy, senior vice-president of content at Rogers, told The Globe he believed "that all major [broadcasters] will roll out a Netflix competitor."

"It's a common strategy to try and figure out how to roll out products that allow viewers to binge watch and to offer all-you-can-eat movie services," Mr. Purdy said.

A numbered company affiliated with Rogers, 8503028 Canada Inc., has registered the business name Shomi Entertainment in several provinces and is seeking to trademark the word "shomi" for use in Canada. The trademark application states the term would apply to a number of uses, among them, "subscription broadcasting services and subscription streaming services, including subscription television broadcasting, subscription audio and video broadcasts."

The numbered company was incorporated in April of 2013, and first filed the trademark application in August of that year.

Tuesday's announcement comes less than two weeks before the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) begins two weeks of high-profile public hearings on the future of television in Canada, dubbed Let's Talk TV. Among the companies appearing to make submissions will be Netflix and Google Inc., which owns YouTube, as well as Rogers and Shaw.

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About the Authors
Banking Reporter

James Bradshaw is banking reporter for the Report on Business. He covered media from 2014 to 2016, and higher education from 2010 to 2014. Prior to that, he worked as a cultural reporter for Globe Arts, and has written for both the Toronto section and the editorial page. More

Telecom Reporter

Christine Dobby covers the Canadian telecom industry for The Globe and Mail. Before joining the Globe in May 2014 she reported for the Financial Post for three years, most recently writing about telecom and media. She has also reported for the Toronto Star and New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. More

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