Earlier in the week I wrote about the sagging TV ratings for the Blue Jays this season. In doing so, I attempted to offer some reasons, beyond an poor on-field product, that viewers are tuning out, much to the certain dismay of an ownership that was dreaming very big back before the season started, when Rogers Media president Keith Pelley told Michael Oliveira of the Canadian Press that “the Blue Jays decision to add money and payroll was not in isolation, it was done in a decision that, if we can play meaningful games in September, what that will do to Sportsnet.”
“[Last year's final] numbers of 507,000 would creep up to in the neighbourhood of a million viewers,” Pelley suggested at the time.
So much for that, eh? And obviously the driving factor in the disappointing numbers is how the club has played, but in the course of theorizing about what else may have factored in, I mentioned cable cutters and Rogers’ own digital streaming service, Rogers Anyplace TV (referred to interchangeably, I think, as RogersOnDemand), which I admitted some confusion over. I wrote:
This season Rogers pushed a number of digital-only viewers away from their in-house services, restricting access to Jays games on Rogers Anyplace TV to only those with cable subscriptions to the channels airing the games, having previously allowed anybody with any sort of Rogers account to watch. At least… from my limited understanding that’s what’s happened– please correct me if wrong.
Thanks to a forwarded email exchange between a reader and a Rogers rep, I am much less confused on the matter. Thing is, now it’s more like outraged.
Or… OK, I’m actually not outraged at all (thanks for clicking to read the rest of the post, though, sucka!), but there definitely appears to be something weird going on in all this.
The reader had been using Rogers Anyplace TV to watch Jays games since the service began in 2011, but recently– as many around here have noted, and as I referred to in the TV ratings post– he has been unable to use it. He is a Rogers internet customer only, and explains in the full exchange that he doesn’t have a TV, so he isn’t interested in adding a cable package to his account, which would enable him once again to access the games.
After contacting Rogers to complain about the sudden disruption of service that he had been making use of since 2011, our reader is told this:
I was able to confirm with my contacts that to have access to Blue Jays Live you must be either a SportsNet or a SportsNetONE subscriber depending on which “channel” it is being displayed on. You were able to receive the feed of these games in the past, but this was due to a profile error. An audit was done on our Rogers Anyplace TV profiles and it has been recognized that a few had access to services they were not subscribed too.
I apologize this has impacted you this way and your ability to view these games as a true fan.
Seems simple enough, right? Except that, if you remember, or have since read the press release that breathlessly announced the Jays’ inclusion in the Anyplace TV service, it would kinda seem to be a giant load.
Seem that is.
I wrote about the release back in March, when readers began alerting me to what appeared to be changes to the fine print on the Blue Jays Live homepage. At the time I linked to an external site’s copy of the release, but it turns out it’s still available on the Rogers website, dated August 2nd, 2011, and includes the following passage, which I highlighted in the post:
Helping keep Toronto Blue Jays fans connected to the game across the country, Rogers On Demand Online is available to any Rogers Cable, Wireless, Home Phone or Hi Speed Internet customer at no extra charge. Customers can visit rogersondemand.com and register with their account information to watch live Jays on Sportsnet coverage at no charge starting today as the Toronto Blue Jays take on the Tampa Bay Rays at 7:00pm EST.
So… profile error? Sure doesn’t sound like games were viewable in the past due to an error. And our reader, hero that he is, points out exactly this, and links to the release in his follow-up email with the company.
I certainly do agree with you that the original release of Rogers Anyplace TV provided Live Blue Jays feed to anyone who is registered for this service; regardless of what package or service they are subscribed too.
The intention since the beginning was to ensure that they are subscribed to the channel that provides this feed as there is licensing agreements for this. It was not until 2012 that this was rectified and the details requiring the subscription was available on our Rogers Anyplace TV and with our internal resources when used to promote this product.
It was recognized this past May of 2013 that some accounts with Rogers AnyPlace TV were not compliant with the above terms. Based on this an audit was fully completed and access to services that you are not registered too have been de-authorized.
That’s… odd. They intended all along to only allow this service to customers who already paid for a cable package including the stations that broadcast the games, but they didn’t bother to mention it on their website or in their materials promoting the service for five months or more? And then they waited another year before actually doing anything about it?
I mean… at least it all sounds more inept than it does malicious– unless, of course, you think Rogers was just trying to get fans hooked on their digital-Blue-Jays-games crack, only to start jacking up the price once folks became addicted to the sweet delicious high of this new, cable-free world. Which… maybe?
But there’s a saving grace in the release for Rogers, which I suppose has to be unfortunate for those who were hoping to have this service ever come back– or, like our reader, kept on using Rogers as an ISP specifically for it, only to see it taken away. (It should be noted that, later in the exchange, the company agreed that our reader wouldn’t be penalized for cancelling his account over the sudden loss of this expected service).
Right at the very top of the original release, it says this:
Rogers Communications Inc. is giving fans more ways to root for theToronto Blue Jays. Starting today, any Rogers customer can catch live streamed Rogers Sportsnet coverage of every pitch, hit and home run of the remainder of the 2011 Toronto Blue Jays regular season games anywhere they want through Rogers On Demand Online and on their smartphones with Rogers On Demand Mobile.
Dispiriting highlights mine.
So… it would seem to me– or at least seem plausible to me– that Rogers really did mean to offer the service to all customers for the final two months of 2011, perhaps just as some kind of a free preview, with the intention of scaling it back the following year. And the fact that customers were able continue accessing it through the 2012 season and into parts of 2013 was just a bit of good fortune.
I don’t particularly want to side with fucking Rogers on this one (full disclosure: they are still not my damn employer, figure it out already, please), and the original press release certainly isn’t entirely clear– aaaand they seem to have downplayed the “rest of 2011″ part and emphasized the “we’re doing this really super awesome thing for you” bit, or at least in my selective reading they did. But I just don’t think they promised streamed Jays at no charge to all customers in perpetuity.
Or at least they can probably get away with saying they didn’t.
Would be cool if they did, though, eh? Because, I mean… seriously… cable?