Seeking to blunt the competitive threat from viewer-friendly services such as Netflix, Shaw Communications Inc. is launching Shaw Go, a so-called TV Everywhere service that will give the company's cable and satellite subscribers easy access to shows on a variety of mobile devices.
Shaw's service, which launches Thursday, makes the company one of the last national TV distributors to make its signals accessible on mobile devices. It previously made limited content available online that its 3.1-million customers could watch on desktop or laptop computers connected to the Internet.
"Customers were telling us they want the freedom and flexibility to watch their favourite television channel brands on any device they want," said Paul Burns, Shaw's vice-president of online experience. "This is the first incarnation of that. We see this evolving to become a whole portfolio of experiences."
Other Canadian companies are racing to push their content out to anything with a screen. Telus's Optik customers can access more than a dozen channels on computers and mobile devices. Customers of Bell Satellite and Fibe TV can access shows on-demand on a computer, but only Bell Wireless customers can view content on their mobile devices (for an additional charge). Rogers Cable customers can watch a number of shows through the company's Anyplace TV app.
Calgary-based Shaw is launching Shaw Go with content from Movie Central, so only subscribers to that channel will be able to use the service at first. The company says it will add more channels in the coming weeks.
"This is a first small step," said Jay Mehr, Shaw's senior vice-president of operations, in an interview. "It's not that this single application is going to shift the competitive environment, but we're just setting ourselves up for the future to be able to leverage the content relationships we have."