Shomi good content, free media, and a fun interface
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
In the age of the Internet, instant streaming has consumed a large portion of the media market, particularly with movies and TV shows. Traditional cable and DVDs have been overshadowed by Internet streaming services. The market has been dominated by Netflix, especially in Canada, where services such as Hulu and Amazon Video are unavailable.
In the past year, competitors to Netflix have been emerging into the Canadian public’s view. One of these subscription services, Shomi, is owned by media companies Rogers and Shaw. Shomi follows a very similar model to Netflix: after a free trial month, subscribers pay $8.99 a month (the same cost as Netflix) in exchange for unlimited, commercial-free streaming of over 1,200 movies and TV shows.
Originally, and controversially, Shomi was only available to subscribers who already had an Internet or cable subscription to Rogers or Shaw. As of August, this restriction was lifted, making Shomi accessible to every Canadian and seriously increasing its potential market presence. Shomi has the potential to become a large rival to Netflix, particularly with its content selection.
Shomi has a wide variety of shows and movies not available on Netflix, including original content not otherwise available in Canada such as the shows Transparent and Catastrophe. Shomi has a much more current content library of recent TV shows in comparison to Netflix, particularly in the drama and comedy categories. Big shows like American Horror Story, Sons of Anarchy, New Girl, Outlander, Modern Family, and 2 Broke Girls are all exclusive to Shomi for streaming.
The movie selection on Shomi is more extensive when it comes to older titles. While Netflix often has popular films from the last year available, Shomi’s selection is focused on movies from all eras. Collections of movies by legendary directors The Coen Brothers, Tim Burton, Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock, and even Stanley Kubrick are available. However, many of the films—particularly recent ones—are also found on Netflix, so it’s the TV show category where Shomi has the clear advantage.
The user features and interface of Shomi are personable and more specific compared to Netflix. Instead of strictly genres, Shomi also features playlists based on a particular director, season, or theme, with playlist names like “Comic-Con Hangover,” “Conspiracies, Cults, and Cover-Ups,” and “Donuts and Disorder.” The playlist descriptions and site guidance are often quite funny in their writing style, making it much more light-hearted and friendly than Netflix. For example, “Sports movies: they all end the same way, but we still love ’em!” or describing the horror section as “Stuff you can’t unsee.”
In terms of actual usage, Shomi lags behind on Netflix’s model. One notable aspect is the lack of an autoplay feature when streaming shows, forcing the user to take 10 whole seconds to proceed in their binge-watching. Shomi’s app and accessibility for device standards aren’t very good. For example, multiple user profiles can’t be created on a smart TV or tablet. Instead it has to be manually done on a computer.
Some smaller issues can alienate some users. Shomi does not have Roku support or payment support for Visa Debit, for example. Shomi is also a service that’s less than a year old, so the features and content will almost certainly grow and improve as time goes on.
Shomi is an excellent alternative to cable and a great addition to home media habits. While it has its flaws, the content selection is well worth $8.99 a month and it is likely to be a firm competitor with Netflix soon.