On January 6, 2016, Shaw Communications released FreeRange TV, a product that simplifies the subscription-TV experience for consumers using U.S. media giant Comcast’s X1 platform technology. Comcast’s IP-capable video platform that uses a cloud-based interface for set-tops and mobile devices. FreeRange TV is a cloud-based mobile product that delivers Shaw subscribers’ TV and OTT products (i.e. Shomi) and programming to consumers in a single app.
Shaw started to deploy an end-to-end IPTV solution in 2013, but paused in late 2014 to conduct a review and to assess other options that would overcome existing challenges of mobile viewing. Mobile viewing of linear TV and OTT programming in Canada required consumers to put together a patchwork of apps on their phones and iPads, with unending App Store updates, passwords and scrolling as one tries to remember what show airs where.
In its June 2016 third quarter earnings statement, they announced that they were taking a $55 million write-down of IPTV assets and instead pursue other options. On January 6, Shaw announced their chosen option to deliver multi-device mobile TV — FreeRange TV.
With Shaw’s FreeRange TV, subscribers can access, and control access to, programming from both their TVs and mobile devices within the app and allows them to download it for offline viewing as well. The app will allow customers to access over 80 live TV channels, 30,000 on-demand channels, 1,500 downloadable kids titles (from Corus’ Treehouse, Nick and YTV channels) and sports content via Sportsnet and TSN.
The quality of the in-app experience and the flexibility it provides users…puts it far ahead of anything else out there,” Brad Shaw said in the product’s launch announcement. “By enhancing functionality, expanding the quality of content offered, and by making navigation intuitive and easy, FreeRange TV addresses the challenges many TV apps have typically faced.
Comcast has put significant R&D and marketing into the X1 platform (which is tied to an X1 set-top box) in the competitive U.S. market, and has credited it with reducing cable subscriber loss. Shaw too is clearly hoping for a boost from FreeRange, as Canadian cable companys face the dual challenges of cord-cutting/shaving and the encroachment of IPTV products into their marketshare.
See more about FreeRange TV at: www.shaw.ca/television/freerangetv