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Shaw takes Netflix head-on

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 8:20am
Brian Santo

Studiously avoiding mention of Netflix, Shaw Communications has introduced a subscription streaming service for movies.

For $12 a month, subscribers to the Shaw Movie Club gain access to an unlimited number of movies. Netflix's new price for its streaming-only service – newly available in Canada – is $7.99 per month.

On the other hand, Shaw has broadband usage caps, and while accessing Netflix will count against the limit, Shaw will turn off the meter when it transmits Movie Club films, according to reports from numerous Canadian news organizations.

"There should be some advantage to you being a customer," said Shaw President Peter Bissonnette in the Vancouver Sun.

Two advantages, in fact: pricing and earlier access to some content.

"Unlike similar programs," the company said, "customers who subscribe to the Shaw Movie Club will have access to newer movie titles that are updated monthly to watch streaming online or directly on your TV."

Shaw is conflating the streaming service with its VOD. Customers can access Movie Club films as IP streams through their new Arris-supplied gateways (recently made available in Vancouver and Edmonton, and soon to hit other markets) or as classic VOD through their digital set-top boxes.

MSOs typically gain access to content for VOD before that content trickles down to streaming specialists such as Netflix.

Shaw said it will make Movie Club content available in high-definition later this summer for an additional $5 per month.

There is already widespread speculation in Canada that Shaw's maneuver may be challenged under Canada's particular take on network neutrality.

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