Shaw Direct is a direct broadcast satellite television distributor in Canada which is majority-owned by cable TV operator Shaw Communications Inc. As of 2010, Shaw Direct had over 900,000 subscribers. It broadcasts on Ku band from two communications satellites, Anik F1R at 107.3°W and Anik F2 at 111.1°W; these satellites are owned by Telesat Canada and otherwise are used primarily to distribute programming to various Canadian cable TV companies. The company was formerly known as Star Choice until April 15, 2009.
A full list of channels carried by these two satellites is available from satellite-related sites such as Lyngsat: Anik F1 Anik F2. Anik F1 carries most mainstream English-language programming; Anik F2 programming includes French-language and HDTV broadcasts. A third planned satellite, Anik G1, was launched on April 15, 2013 and then later reached orbit on May 29, 2013. This new satellite provides Shaw Direct customers with access to over 210 HD channels, beating out rival competitor Bell TV as having the most HD channels in Canada.
Shaw Direct began in Lincoln, New Brunswick, but is now based in Calgary, Alberta. Its broadcast centre is in Mississauga, Ontario and has call centres in Montreal, Calgary and Mississauga.
- August 1996: Awarded broadcasting licence.
- March 1997: Opened first customer care centre.
- March 1997: Activated their first customer, Archie Gray, who purchased a receiver for $999 with 100 digital channels when he purchased $400 worth of programming.
- September 1997: Added Pay Per View to their lineup.
- September 1999: Added 60 new channels to their lineup.
Logo used while under the name Star Choice
- January 2000: Launched HDTV programming with the broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIV, the first High Definition TV broadcast in Canada.
- August 2000: Privatized by Shaw Communications Inc. through its acquisition of Cancom.
- April 2001: Activated both Anik F1 and Anik E2 satellites, becoming the first Canadian provider to broadcast services from two satellites simultaneously.
- March 2002: Moved its head office from Lincoln, New Brunswick to Calgary, Alberta.
- May 2002: Sold its one millionth receiver.
- August 2003: Launched its first fully integrated High Definition receiver, the Motorola DSR500 HD.
- September 2003: WTSN dropped from lineup because of the channel's demise.
- February 2004: Added 18 additional channels including 2 high-definition ones.
- July 2004: Announced the expansion of new channels as a result of the launch of the Anik F2 satellite.
- May 2005: Launched the dual tuner High Definition Digital Video Recorder.
- November 2005: TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is introduced to the Canadian market for the first time.
- September 1, 2006: AMC (American Movie Classics) is introduced to the Canadian market for the first time.
- October 2006: A&E HD, Discovery HD and SRC HD (Montréal) launch on October 12, 2006. Super Écran HD launches October 30, 2006.
- December 2006: Showcase HD and National Geographic HD launch on December 19, 2006 bringing the total amount of free HD channels to 17.
- January 2007: Launched the DSR317 receiver, featuring a faster processor than previous Standard Definition receivers, and picture-in-guide. Superstation WGN was swapped for the local Chicago feed on January 17, 2007.
- February 2007: Launched the DSR207 receiver, featuring a faster processor than previous Standard Definition receivers, and picture-in-guide.
- March 2007: Star Choice announces the addition of GOL-TV, World Fishing Network, WGN-HD and HDNet.
- March 2007: Star Choice celebrates its 10 Year Anniversary
- June 2007: Séries+ HD and Canal Vie HD launch on May 31, 2007. MuchMusic and TLN move to essentials and PunchMuch is removed. Casino and Gaming Television was added on June 5, 2007 to the essentials package.
- July/August 2007: A new interactive program guide was deployed to all DSR505's and DVR530's. The new interactive program guide introudced new features such as instant on capability (Guide will load within 3 minutes after power failure), support for Open TV and support for 8PSK modulation.
- September 2007: PPV HD, MMore HD, Movie Central HD2, Canal Z, ABC West HD were added to the line-up
- October 2007: Added NHL Centre Ice package to the line-up
- December 2007: Teletoon Retro was added to the line-up. Viewer's Choice and Canal Indigo PPV was dropped in favour of Shaw PPV
- February 2008: Speed Channel HD, NASCAR Hot Pass and Wild TV was added to the line-up
- May 2008: Sun TV Toronto, Citytv Winnipeg, Global Maritimes, and CBC Saskatchewan dropped from the lineup.
- August 2008: TFO was dropped from the line-up
- September 2008: TSN2 and TSN2 HD was added to the line-up
- October 2008: HBO Canada, HBO Canada HD and The FRAME HD was added to the line-up. Also, Xtreme Sports dropped from the lineup because of the demise of the channel.
- December 2008: Star Choice launched the DSR209 receiver. BigTen and BigTen HD was added to the line-up.
- January 2009: Star Choice celebrates the sale of its 2 millionth receiver. Also, The Accessible Channel launches.
- February 2009: Star Choice launched the DSR319 receiver.
- April 15, 2009: Star Choice officially becomes Shaw Direct.
- April 30, 2009: Shaw Direct drops Buffalo, New York TV stations WGRZ, WIVB-TV & WKBW-TV, and Detroit Fox station WJBK.
- July 2009: TV Land Canada, Court TV Canada & BBC Kids dropped from the lineup.
- October 2009 The Score HD launched, and DIY Network launched to replace Fine Living Canada.
- November 2009 Nickelodeon Canada launched to replace Discovery Kids.
- March 1, 2010: Sex TV and Drive-In Classics will be removed from the Shaw Direct lineup. They will be replaced by W Movies on channel 634/216 and Sundance on channel 635/217. This was decided by the broadcaster. OASIS HD launches and is included in the HD Extra Bundle. In addition, Yoopa launches, as Yoopa makes the first satellite TV debut solely on Shaw Direct since Big Ten in December 2008, and the first TV channel to debut under the Shaw Direct name but not on rival Bell TV.
- August 2010: Shaw Direct launched a more advanced dual tuner High Definition Digital Video Recorder (HDPVR630).
- October 2010: Sportsnet One added to the lineup.
- November 2010: Shaw Direct launched a new advanced High Definition receiver- HDDSR605
- November 4, 2010: Shaw Direct adds NBA League Pass, AUX, Bite & The Pet Network to the lineup.
- January 31, 2011: Global Maritimes is re-added to the lineup.
- July 4, 2011: Shaw Direct launched a new compact, essential High Definition receiver- HDDSR600
- September 2011: RDS2, Télétoon Rétro, Mlle & TVA Sports added to the lineup.
- October 6, 2011: A software error knocks out Anik F2, one of the two satellites serving Shaw Direct customers, for approximately one day.
- February 2012: Shaw Direct began implementing simultaneous substitution for the Global HD station (ch. 256) for all of its customers, a practice they had previously only applied to areas where they were legally required.
- March 2012: HDNet dropped in favour of Space HD and Dusk removed due to channel's demise.
- October 11, 2012: FX Canada HD is added to the lineup.
- April 15, 2013: Shaw Direct launched their 3rd satellite, Anik G1. New HD channels will launch later in the Spring of 2013.
- May 29, 2013: 90+ high definition channels are launched including various locals and speciality channels.
A Shaw Direct 45x60cm dish, with new triple satellite LNB compatible with Anik F1, Anik F2 and Anik G1
The system requires an elliptical antenna of at least 45x60cm in size with a special LNB pair built as one unit to accommodate the narrow 3.8° spacing between satellites; the receiver uses the Motorola-proprietary Digicipher II system which has so far been virtually free of the problems with pirate decryption that have plagued other providers such as rival Bell TV. The standard 18" DBS antennas used by other providers are not compatible with this system as the signals differ in both frequency and polarization, because Shaw Direct is relayed via FSS satellites, Anik F1 and F2 in this case.
Services and pricing
Shaw Direct currently features over 450 channels including all major Canadian & American networks, popular specialty services, PPV, sports packages and over 30 High Definition channels. Key services include:
- multiple feeds from various affiliate stations of U.S. networks, including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS; these feeds come from Detroit (Fox excluded), Rochester (Rochester, New York) (Fox only), Seattle and Spokane.1
- The Movie Network, Movie Central & Super Channel (English-language premium movie services)
- Super Écran (French-language premium movie service)
- Pay Per View movies and events in Standard and High Definition from Shaw PPV
- NBA League Pass
- NFL Sunday Ticket
- NHL Centre Ice
- Sportsnet World (Premium sports service airing Soccer & Rugby)
- Hustler TV, Penthouse TV, Playboy TV & Red Hot TV (Adult channels)
- 40 commercial-free digital music channels provided by Galaxie
- 49 Canadian commercial radio stations
- 7 local FM radio stations from Spokane
The monthly packages range from $30 for the basic service, up to $107.99 for specialty and movie channels. Individual premium and specialty channels can also be purchased. The receivers range from $99 for a basic system to $399 for a high-definition personal video recorder.
In addition, Shaw Direct provides specialty services
- Home Away From Home: Allows for programming at a secondary location
- Seasonal Break: Allows you to temporarily suspend programming anywhere from 14 days and up to 180 days, with an automatic reconnect date
- Refer-A-Friend: When referring new customers to the service, you are eligible to receive up to a month of free programming