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Rogers and Shaw’s video streaming joint venture Shomi is being opened to anyone with an Internet connectionmanaemedia/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The "beta" testing phase is over and the Shomi video-streaming service is now open to anyone with an Internet connection.

The move to offer Shomi, a streaming platform featuring hundreds of television series and more than 1,200 movies, marks the latest step in the maturation of an online video market shaped by Netflix Inc. that is now attracting a range of new players.

Until now, access to Shomi, a joint venture of Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc., had been limited to 4.3 million customers of the two cable giants. But in May, the company promised it would sell directly to consumers by the end of the summer.

"Anybody with an Internet connection, starting Thursday, can get it," David Asch, Shomi's general manager, said in an interview.

The move is expected to shift the balance in the ways users watch Shomi. More than half of all content on the service is currently streamed through cable set-top boxes by users who still enjoy watching on a TV screen. New users, especially those from the "cord-cutting" set, are expected to watch more through online devices, such as AppleTV and Google's Chromecast.

"We're going to launch on more devices and more platforms," Mr. Asch said.

Bell Media's CraveTV, the main Canadian competitor to Shomi, still restricts its service to TV subscribers, but has also promised to give access to anyone in Canada starting Jan. 1, 2016.

Shomi has sought to distinguish itself with "human curation," whereby a content team of between 10 and 15 people crafts collections to suggest to users, rather than relying solely on algorithms.

Mr. Asch declined to discuss how many subscribers the service has, or what proportion are paying the $8.99 monthly price tag after free trials expire. But he said the number of online "video starts" on Shomi - which measures each time a user begins watching a video - has increased by 55 per cent since May.

Follow James Bradshaw on Twitter: @jembradshawOpens in a new window

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