Shaw Communications launched BlueSky TV, its next-gen video service based on Comcast’s X1 platform, this week in Calgary, but the Canadian MSO has been busy seeding its markets for months with boxes that are compatible with the new TV product.
“Every box we bought in the last 18 months is…compatible” with X1, Jay Mehr, Shaw’s president, said Thursday on the company’s fiscal Q1 earnings call, noting that nearly 200,000 such boxes have already been deployed.
Following up the debut this week in Calgary, Shaw expects to launch BlueSky TV in Vancouver “within a matter of weeks, not months” and then proceed with launches in more markets by this spring, Mehr said.
Shaw’s new service will include several features that are present in Comcast’s X1 service, including the voice remote, Kids Zone guide view, a sports app, and a whole-home DVR.
“We love their [Comcast’s] playbook, and we will be following that playbook,” Mehr said, later noting that the platform’s support for voice navigation and its ability to aggregate services and features makes it “a lot more than video or a lot more than IPTV.”
Shaw has not responded to questions about when or if the MSO plans to offer a cloud DVR service, which has become a key feature of Comcast’s X1 service, and if Shaw also intends to integrate Netflix on boxes that run BlueSky TV.
Shaw will be looking to the new video platform to reverse subscriber losses in the category. In fiscal Q1, Shaw shed 13,146 residential video subs, narrowed from a year-ago loss of 18,029, for a total of 1.65 million. The operator also lost 15,669 residential satellite TV customers, for a total of 774,905.
Shaw also added 16,964 residential high-speed Internet subs, expanding that total to 1.8 million.
Brad Shaw, Shaw’s CEO, said the MSO is on track to complete its DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade by the end of fiscal 2017.
On the financial front, revenues rose 14.9% to C$1.3 billion, with net income of $89 million, down by $129 million versus the year-ago quarter due to a non-recurring provision of $107 million related to the wind-down of Shaw’s investment in shomi, the SVOD joint venture of Shaw and Rogers Communications that was shut down on Nov. 30, 2016.
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