Elemental, AWS behind latest version of Canada’s Shomi

Pretty much wherever you see OTT services springing up, at some point down the road it turns out that they are customers of Elemental Technologies for their encoding. Canada’s Shomi, which started out as a tied VoD service to Rogers and Shaw’s pay TV service, is no exception. This week Elemental said that Shomi is using Elemental Cloud and other Amazon components for delivery.

Shomi was conceived, as so many services are, as a way of keeping Netflix at bay. What usually happens in these situations – and it’s happened with Sky in the UK, services in Germany and at Canal+ in France – is that the new service becomes a success, but it doesn’t halt the emergence of Netflix as a force in that particular country. Netflix has amassed more than 5.2 million Canadian customers.

Shomi is no different, but it also finds itself up against Crave, a Bell Media initiative that has dragged in other operators like its captive operator Bell Canada, as well as Telus and Bell Alliant. Both OTT services set out to undercut Netflix and rely on the exclusive content tied to their parent organizations. Canada has strict laws about using exclusive content to tie customer to pay TV operators and the initial positioning of Shomi as a service only for Rogers and Shaw customers, was vacated last year in favor of an open SVoD service.  Shomi has more up to date content than either Netflix or Crave and charges C$8.99 a month, a dollar less than Netflix while Crave started out life at C$4, but when it landed extra exclusive content like HBO and Showtime back catalogs, to go with its Seinfeld and South Park, it raised pricing to C$7.99. Neither Shomi nor Crave has revealed how many customers they have, but surveys suggest they have well under 1 million customers between them (750,000 which we would guess slightly favors Crave), and almost all of these also take Netflix.

Shomi now says it is using Elemental to help scale rapidly using Elemental Cloud, the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon CloudFront as an origin server to the Akamai CDN. It looks like this was a change of delivery introduced last May, when Shomi said it would move outside the Shaw and Rogers households – partly to avoid any potential legal actions as pay TV services are not allowed much in the way of exclusives under Canadian law. So it had to go from using internal VoD systems to being an OTT SVoD service.

That service launched in August and Elemental claims that Shomi has already surpassed subscription targets set for its first year of operation.

Shomi is based on a library of 1,200 films and TV which equates to 11,000 hours-worth of video and can be accessed on pay TV customer set tops as well now as an OTT stream over the internet to smaller devices.

In 2015 it contracted with Amazon to run some of the Amazon’s US original programming, including Transparent, previously not accessible in Canada.

Augusto Rosa, Senior Director, Head of Video & Network Infrastructure, at shomi said, “We’re preparing video assets for viewing nearly 20% faster than before and rapidly scaling our offerings and subscriber base, thanks to Elemental and its deepening integration with AWS services. This is critical to meeting the growing demand in the Canadian streaming market.”

The company says it has experienced a 10-fold increase in cloud resource over the past 12 months, and moved all of its content on to Elemental Cloud using workflow to manage, process, and package batches of file-based video content for both OTT and VOD delivery.

Adaptive bitrate assets are packaged with corresponding digital rights management schemes and stored on Amazon S3.