The big story last week up here in the Great White North was the demise of streaming video service Shomi.
It took not even two years for Shomi, a joint project of broadcasters Rogers and Shaw to throw in the towel.
It was never clear in Shomi’s publicized “900,000 users” how many of those were paid subscribers, free trial users, or multiple instances of the same account logging in on different devices.
Clearly “if you build it they will come” isn’t always true.
“We tried something new, and customers who used Shomi loved it. It’s like a great cult favourite with a fantastic core audience that unfortunately just isn’t big enough to be renewed for another season,” said Melani Griffith, senior vice-president of content for Rogers in a public statement reported on by Canadian news site MobileSyrup.
I can hear the sad trombone in my head when I read that.
The truth is, when going up against the 800lb gorillas of the streaming business, alternate streaming services find themselves at a disadvantage.
Shomi was further disadvantaged by a mobile app that my family found to be bug-ridden and unreliable, and content that wasn’t compelling.
Since we have Shaw TV and Internet I signed up for Shomi, and kept it more out of inertia than any great joy we took from it.
I expect my family’s experience was typical of many subscribers.
The big questions I have in the wake of Shomi’s demise relate to content licensing, something I’ve written about before. Where will the movies and TV shows that Shomi had exclusives on end up? Netflix? Crave TV? Limbo?
Compelling content remains, to my mind, the single most important differentiator a streaming service can offer to incent people to subscribe.
We’ll see if CraveTV can hold my family’s attention longer than that.
And we’ll see if CraveTV, the last broadcaster-owned Canadian streaming service can do better in the long run than the late Shomi.