Shaw Communicatons and Corus Entertainment are launching Canada's first subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD) service.

Set to launch in Calgary, Alberta on Nov. 1, the service, Movie Central Express, will offer viewers a selection of feature films and TV programmes. According to Shaw spokesman Michael D'Avella, the service is identical to SVOD service offered by Home Box Office in the US. Shaw's Movie Central subscribers will pay a monthly flat fee of C$5.99 for unlimited VOD access to the offerings for that given month. As opposed to per-transaction VOD, which operates in the pay-per-view ancillary window, SVOD is in the pay-TV window.

Under federal regulation, Canada's cable pay-TV movie market is divided between two services, Toronto-based Corus's Movie Central, which operates west of the Ontario-Manitoba border, and Montreal-based Astral Communications' The Movie Network (TMN), which operates in the east. An Astral spokesperson told the company is close to establishing an SVOD service for TMN subscribers.

The Movie Central Express service will include product from such Hollywood studios as Twentieth Century Fox and Sony Pictures as well as Canadian distributors Lions Gate Films and TVA International.