Archive for the ‘Rogers Communications’ Category


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.

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No, this isn’t about the damn statue.

Talk about burying the lede. A fascinating Canadian Press piece from Neil Davidson appeared in the Montreal Gazette, among other places, on Monday, under names like Mediocre Blue Jays winning at the turnstiles.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the piece was merely about attendance, but it’s actually a wide-ranging, Rogers-faced assessment of how the Jays have attracted fans this year though various mediums and in key demographics, complete with Rogers Media president of broadcasting Scott Moore crowing about the fabulousness of it all. Despite, y’know, this:

As of July 10, Sportsnet was averaging 544,000 viewers (aged two and over) for Jays’ broadcasts. That’s nine per cent down from the 2012 average of 595,000 at this point of the season but up 10 per cent from 2011′s average of 496,000 at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong, those are still terrifically strong numbers. And even in the last appointment-viewing stronghold of live sports, TV viewers are continually being siphoned off by other mediums and other options. There are lots of cable cutters and lots of game-in-an-hour folks out there, which might contribute to the dip.

But… uh… those alternatives existed a year ago, too, and ratings were up by nearly 100,000 per game. (In fact, 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.)

More importantly, despite all the glowing words about the fans coming through the turnstiles (who, y’know, probably bought their tickets back in February), the raised profile among the young and female demographics, the merchandise sales (all of the profit for which goes into MLB’s central revenue pool and gets split among all clubs, FYI), and the social media engagement with players (uh… at least until they all delete their Twitter accounts), are we really expected to believe that ownership is over the moon after adding $35-million to a payroll that was already above $80-million, only to find that– thanks to a thoroughly underwhelming on-field product– their main revenue-driver has taken a 9% step back?

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On Thursday, March 28th, Simon Houpt wrote a piece in the Globe and Mail that was titled, probably not by him, As Rogers circles the Jays, it’s tough to tell press from fans.

Shots fired, huh?

In it, Houpt gets specific about these charges.

[Rogers Media president Keith] Pelley’s enthusiasm [for the synergy between the Jays and the company's broadcasting platforms] may get equity analysts and shareholders excited, but it can make sports journalists – and regular sports fans – feel kind of icky. In the most recent issue of Sportsnet magazine, their marquee sports columnist Stephen Brunt wrote a fawning article about the great chemistry between the Dominicans playing for the Jays. (The column promoted a 30-minute special Mr. Brunt hosted for the TV network called Up Close: Dominican Blue Jays.) How are we to tell that he’s applying any sort of critical eye to the subject?

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cable TV cord cutting

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 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.

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I love this team, but I hate this ad campaign.

For the first time in two years, the Blue Jays marketing team has produced a set of Opening Day (Week) commercials that make you roll your eyes more than make you excited for the season to come.

It’s not hard to get Blue Jays fans excited for the season. Formula: show the Jays defrosting at Spring Training after the hellish Canadian winter, mix with player close ups on a soundstage and highlights from the past season. Overlay a song with the word “home” in it. Done and done. But this new team needed something better, didn’t it?

Embracing Twitter as part of a team’s marketing strategy is smart; making it the focus of an entire ad campaign is cheesy and narrow. Tweeting Tuesdays? Fine. Twitter Shirseys? Ugh. A hashtag as the team’s central slogan?  The Blue Jays social media consultant is either insanely persuasive or Nadir Mohamed’s niece.

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I don’t happen to be a Rogers customer, so forgive me if I’m not terribly well versed in this stuff or am entirely missing something here, but my understanding of the way their Rogers On Demand service– or Rogers Anytime TV, or whatever they call it– applied to the Jays was that if you were a Rogers customer you could register with your account information in order to access a feed of the game online.

A press release from the time the service was announced, in August 2011, states rather emphatically that “Rogers On Demand Online is available to any Rogers Cable, Wireless, Home Phone or Hi Speed Internet customer at no extra charge,” and it’s my understanding that that’s continued to be the case… it seems, until now.

Or, at least, that’s what would appear to be what you’re told when you look to the FAQ on the Jays page of the Rogers On Demand website, as a commenter on a post at Getting Blanked suggested we do earlier in the week.

Money quote:

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With news that Windows restaurant would be getting a makeover this off-season we’ve been sort of, half-assedly, following the project along… at least anytime someone manages to point a camera in the direction of its most recent stage of development. And that’s what reader @jonathannorris did recently– or, at least, someone whose picture he got his hands on– tweeting the pic above in my direction this morning, showing significant progress from the last time we’d seen an update.

In that post you’ll remember that word was Paul Beeston had spoken of “some $250 million in retrofits and renovations will be required in the next decade to modernize the facility,” of which the Windows project was a part. It will be an open air porch, accessible to all fans, with picnic tables and whatnot (or something), beginning this season.

No, you’re mailing in a post.


Above: The space formerly occupied by Windows restaurant, seen from the main concourse, looking to out to right centre field. You can see the Rogers Centre logo on the panel above a small group of seats that were previously squeezed in front of Windows, as seen one section to the left of the “All You Can Eat” section in this picture.