Rogers Closer To Launching a Netflix Rival

Canadian mobile and cable giant Rogers Communications is in talks with most major Hollywood studios to secure the digital rights required to build and launch a subscription streaming service that would tangle with Netflix, which launched in Canada more than three years ago, and other media outlets reported.

The Global and Mail first reported that Rogers had the project under development last May; last week said the operator had splashed out more than $100 million to help it secure rights for a service to be called “Showmi.” Some of those digital rights will reportedly keep some movies and TV shows out of the hands of Netflix in Canada, the report added.

Rogers confirmed it has a streaming project underway, but isn't elaborating. "As previously reported, Rogers is exploring opportunities to deliver an over-the-top service. There are not additional details at this time," a company spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Netflix launched its streaming-only subscription package for Canada in September 2011, and eclipsed 1 million subscribers there by August 2011. Netflix doesn’t break out its Canadian subscriber totals, but it ended the third quarter of 2013 with 9.19 million international customers.

If Rogers pushes ahead with a Netflix-style service, the strategy would follow steps already taken by major service providers south of its border. Verizon Communications, for example, has teamed up with Coinstar to develop Redbox Instant by Verizon, a streaming and DVD rental combo offering, while Comcast has moved forward with a multiscreen subscription streaming service called Streampix.