Shaw and Rogers abondoned their in-house IPTV programs in favour of Comcast’s X1 platform as they play catchup with Bell and Telus
October 26, 2017
Shaw Communications Inc. knew by mid-2014 that it needed a new television product, and fast.
Customers were questioning the value of bundled services, the broadcast regulator was talking about mandating skinnier, cheaper TV packages and à la carte channels, and online streaming trailblazer Netflix Inc. was gaining traction.
More critically, Shaw was losing conventional cable customers to Telus Corp., its chief western Canadian rival, which had an innovative internet protocol television (IPTV) platform that customers seemed to like.
“We were in fairly urgent need to replace our platform, because the video product from our main competitor was, in fact, a very good product at that time and they were using it effectively to steal share and to win customers from us,” said Jim Little, Shaw’s executive vice-president and chief marketing and culture officer. Getting share back from Telus was “Job No. 1,” he added.
Shaw already had sunk millions into developing its own IPTV product by the time Zoran Stakic, its new chief technology officer back then, met Comcast Corp.’s chief technology officer Tony Werner at a CableLabs meeting in 2014. Comcast had recently launched a cloud-based TV product called Xfinity X1 and was in the early days of licensing the technology to other companies.
Their interaction led to Shaw becoming the first international player to license the X1 platform. Three years later, Rogers Communications Inc. and Quebecor Inc.’s Videotron — Canada’s second- and third-largest cable providers after Shaw — have since followed in partnering with Comcast to use X1.
As the three largest cablecos phase out their legacy systems and switch to X1
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