There’s some news today for the ever-growing segment of Jays fans who have cut, or are waiting for a thing like this as a reason to cut, their home cable TV cord. I’m not sure it’s particularly great or impactful news, but… it’s news, as Michael Oliveira of the Canadian Press, via the Toronto Star, writes that “Rogers says it may sell digital streaming of Toronto Blue Jays games and its Sportsnet channels to non-TV subscribers.”
He goes on to explain that this “small segment of consumers” who have discovered the internet, and the largely pointless expense that is cable TV, can get most of the content they want legally online (and often for free), but have trouble finding ways to legally stream sporting events. This is true, though if you want to be technically correct, there seems to be no clear answer to the question of whether accessing MLB.tv via a VPN, while a clear violation of the terms of service, is actually illegal. Either way, it’s is just as morally murky, too.
But, as the music industry learned the hard way, moral murk and legal technicalities tend to not be great obstacles to people determined to get the content they want the way they want it– nor, it seems, do legal witch hunts to make examples out of randomly selected users– and it seems as though Rogers has finally heard this. And… actually, they’re talking about it pretty sensibly.
“There’s definitely thinking going on about what kind of model would make sense — to university students (for example) who perhaps don’t have a cable, satellite or IPTV subscription — how do you create a product that’s relevant for them?” said [Rogers senior vice president of content David] Purdy.
“Would it be just the Jays? Probably not. Would Sportsnet be available in a unique distribution model? That’s something we’re actively thinking about.
“You’ve got to be customer-centric and innovate and recognize there’s a certain number of people out there that today don’t subscribe to (a TV package). But you don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot with pricing that’s not smart.”
Uh… about that, though. Oliveira considers what Rogers is already doing with Sportsnet World programming, a full access subscription to which runs “bout $275 a year, or $25 a month.” He adds that “buying a year of rugby games is $129, it’s $199 for cricket, and soccer options range from $99 for just UEFA Europe League matches to about $253 for all soccer games.”
Setting the price in that ballpark would be pretty reasonable, I think, and probably enough to entice a lot of people who understand why it’s important to supporting the content they value– even when it’s coming from “fucking Rogers”– but I’m not so sure it’s going to change the minds of those who see cheaper, and free-er, alternatives. It’s at least a step in the right direction, though.
Unless– as Parkes just pointed out to me– Rogers blacks out every non-Jays game that’s on Sportsnet, forcing people to choose either MLB.tv, the Sportsnet package, or paying for both.
Changing channels, as it were– see what I just did there?– while we’re on the subject of the Jays and media, how about this tidbit from Steve Ladurantaye of the Globe and Mail, who wrote about Rogers’ hopes to drive ad revenue through the revamped Jays, and added that “Rogers hasn’t said what it will do with the country’s third most popular sports channel, but sources said the company is eyeing The Score’s downtown Toronto studio as a venue for interactive postgame broadcasts because of its close proximity to the Rogers Centre.”
Certainly makes sense. So… yeah…
Image via The Legion Of Decency.