March 10, 2011 / 1:04 PM / in 7 years

Telus adds Facebook to TV fight with Shaw

TORONTO (Reuters) - Telus is engaging the social power of Facebook in its fierce battle with cable rival Shaw Communications for the attention of television viewers in Western Canada.

The Facebook logo is shown at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California May 26, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

At a click of their remote control, viewers of the Vancouver-based company’s Optik TV service will from Thursday be able to share their views on the program they are watching with friends on the world’s largest social network.

“It puts the social back in TV again,” Telus’ chief marketing officer Dave Fuller told reporters in Toronto ahead of the launch.

Telus added 48,000 Optik subscriptions in its last quarter and the service is now available to more than 2.1 million homes in British Columbia, Alberta and eastern Quebec.

It has spent heavily to advertise and build out the Internet protocol service since its launch in June to challenge Shaw’s dominant cable-based position in the west. Shaw has some 2.3 million basic cable subscribers.

“This is the most valuable real estate in the home,” said Douglas Edwards, pointing to a television running a slide show of photos posted to Facebook.

Edwards is the head of ES3, a start-up company that developed the application for Telus.

Telus and ES3 worked closely with Facebook and had its blessing for the project but did not pay a license fee.

Its application, run on the Microsoft Mediaroom platform that powers Optik, will not allow Flash video from Facebook to be viewed.

Internet-enabled television, or IPTV, allows for more interactive viewing than linear models delivered via co-axial cable or satellite.

Telus also operates a national wireless network with infrastructure shared with BCE Inc’s Bell, while Shaw has delayed the expected launch of its wireless service until early 2012.

Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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