Woody and Miley bring their Crisis to Amazon

A day after the announcement of shomi’s demise, the service put out a release saying it recently topped 900,000 subscribers.

SVP David Asch was quoted as saying that this “would likely make shomi a Top 10 service in North America.”

Hey, I was one of them and if you were into Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle and Jane the Virgin it was an affordable way to watch those shows. It just never, after two years, commissioned or launched a Canadian, scripted original. The old network rent-a-show plan just does not fly in a digital world where viewers can access content from around the world.

Especially when international players such as Amazon decide to stop being suppliers and start becoming rivals.

For example: Amazon today announced they have picked up three of the pilots I wrote about yesterday: I Love Dick, Jean-Claude Van Johnson and The Tick will all become Amazon Original Series and will debut next year exclusively for Amazon Prime members.

Billy Bob Thornton and William Hurt hyped Goliath on the summer TCA press tour

A screener for another Amazon series, Goliath, just arrived at my door. It stars Billy Bob Thornton as a down-and-out lawyer seeking redemption. William Hurt, Olivia Thirlby, Maria Bello and Canadian Molly Parker are also in the cast. David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro are executive producers. It drops Oct. 14.


Woody Allen’s first-ever TV series, Crisis in Six Scenes, premieres Friday on Amazon. It stars Miley Cyrus, Elaine May and Allen himself. Tim Goodman reviews it here for The Hollywood Reporter, dismissing it as a half-hearted effort while congratulating Amazon on beating Netflix to Woody’s door.

So, even if the shows don’t all live up to their promise, pretty hard for shomi to compete against world-wide services offering shows created by top storytellers such as Allen and Kelley. Still, partner up, take chances, try.

Will Canadians soon get to judge these Amazon offerings for themselves? Stay tuned.


  1. I’ve got to ask, why exactly is it so crucial that shomi or any other Canadian digital platform commission original content? I agree that having exclusive content is needed, and shomi had that with some Amazon Prime content. But why the need for it to be “original”?

    Because viewers can get around watching it on shomi? If that’s the case, then viewers will also get around watching a shomi original on another site too. Whether it be a pirate site or a foreign paid site like Netflix US (because I’m certain if shomi were to commission an original series they would at least try to sell it internationally, and not only that, it would be very likely that “original” show would end up on some other Rogers-owned TV property at some point, like FX, FXX, City, or the others).

    Also, what has Crave TV actually commissioned that has been original? Letterkenny? OK, great, but that also aired on Comedy Network, so not exactly an original and 100% not an exclusive show. The new show with Russel Peters? Well, isn’t that also going to air on CTV at some point too? It’s press release says its made “in partnership with CTV”, otherwise known as a code-word for “it’ll air soon after on CTV too”.

    I don’t agree at all that they need any original series. What they do need is exclusive content that viewers can’t get anywhere else in Canada. It’s the same as traditional TV. Chances are, Showcase’s viewers would not go down if they happened to drop every Canadian show, including their originals, and replaced them with all American shows, if at least some portion of those shows were exclusive to Showcase.

    • Bill Brioux Reply

      I think commissioning and airing your own shows demonstrates to potential subscribers that there is a reason to get behind your service. If all you ever do is just take shows from somewhere else, people will just go somewhere else. If Netflix was just a video jukebox, it would be just another video jukebox.
      Letterkenny was originally going to be split with Comedy but very quickly Bell saw it as a tentpole for Crave. Aside from that one July 1 holiday marathon, they have not spread it around their system. Indian Detective will get the same level of exclusivity. Bell may open it on CTV to drive interest, but look for other episodes to be Crave-only for several months at least.

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