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Rogers Media Leads Canada’s Media Market With Digital Video Experiences

There’s a very important connection between sports fans who follow multiple sports at different times of the day, and the availability of various content—video, traditional stories, scores, data—all on digital devices.
Dale FallonDirector of Digital Product Management at Rogers

Free, Targeted Content Delivered Across Multiple Platforms Boosts Viewership and Revenue

For over a century, technology advances have driven changes in user behavior, forcing publishers and broadcasters to evolve their businesses. This trend has accelerated in the past few years as streaming services, social video and other alternatives to traditional media outlets have surged in popularity. To stay relevant—and profitable—in this new environment, conventional broadcasters are continuously looking for new models to grow and monetize their audiences.

One company that is successfully evolving is Rogers Media, a leading Canadian media company. Under the Rogers Media umbrella are over one hundred brands delivering news, sports, and lifestyle entertainment to over 13 million digital visitors. Known for its long history of innovation, Rogers Media is putting digital video at the center of its new business model.

Free, Highly-Tailored Video Programming Drives Audience Growth

Rogers Media content includes a wide variety of national, local, and regional current season programs addressing topics ranging from politics to health to arts, as well as US-acquired primetime shows. The company also owns rights to air professional and amateur sporting events, showcasing teams Canadians care about most. Through this type of focused programming, Rogers Media ensures there’s something for everyone.

One of the main differentiators for Rogers Media’s local City™ brand is offering primetime shows for free. “We’re the only major broadcast channel that puts in-season shows out for free,” says Kasra Zokaei, Director of Digital Product Development at Rogers. “Our content is ad-supported, whereas most other platforms are subscription-based and feature only past season content. Our viewers aren’t limited to past season catch-up.”

The instant gratification of up-to-date programming for those who don’t have a cable subscription is helping Rogers Media attract new viewers. This is supported by the company’s decision to not require authentication to access Rogers Media’s videos, which allows viewers to catch up on current season shows with zero hassle. This convenience has helped make City a major destination for primetime shows in Canada.

Video Via Apps Draw Mobile-Savvy Audiences

Rogers Media’s live and custom programming is accessible through multiple digital platforms—desktop, mobile, tablet and connected devices. As part of its strategy to reach audiences everywhere, Rogers Media pairs brand channels with a free app, allowing viewers to consume video content on-demand while on the go. This way, Rogers Media maintains their current viewership and gains new audiences. “We’ve been a pioneer in terms of our hybrid approach. In addition to making some content available at no charge to consumers and without authentication, we also offer a special tier of subscription access to our linear channels,” says Zokaei. “As our linear audience is very tech-savvy and quick to adopt our digital products, there’s a lot of uptake on mobile, so we really strive to give them the best mobile experience when it comes to consuming video.”

Sportsnet Reigns: Multi-platform Strategy Drives Revenue and Audience Growth

Sportsnet® is a prime example of Rogers’ success delivering content on a variety of platforms and through multiple business models. As the country’s number one sports brand, Sportsnet® delivers 24x7 access to regional and national coverage, in-depth analysis, and live events for a variety of professional leagues, including NHL, MLB, NBA, Curling and WWE—perfect for the all-around sports fan. Viewers can access this content free with advertising on the Sportsnet website or the Sportsnet app. In addition, Rogers Media also offers fans a subscription-based OTT product—Sportsnet NOW—for those who want live streaming of six Sportsnet linear channels, anytime, anywhere on a variety of different devices. The first mainstream sports TV channel in North America to be offered directly to consumers, Sportsnet NOW is available on desktop, through the Sportsnet App on mobile devices, Apple TV, and other connected TV platforms including Xbox.

"The Sportsnet mobile app is key to our success; it is heavily focused on distributing video. Our demographic is very mobile savvy, so we extend the brand to all major mobile devices," says Dale Fallon, Director of Digital Product Management.

The Sportsnet App has helped Sportsnet grow a substantial audience and has become a revenue driver within the Rogers Media sports portfolio. Available on iOS and Android, the Sportsnet app won top prize for Best Mobile Utilities at the nextMEDIA Digi Awards and Best Apple Watch app at the Apple Best of Awards. The app has become a fan favorite, and is a regular fixture in the top downloaded sports mobile apps.

"There’s a very important connection between sports fans who follow multiple sports at different times of the day, and the availability of various content—video, traditional stories, scores, data—all on digital devices," Fallon explains. "With our portfolio of products, we have all bases covered."

Brightcove Platform Provides Easy Transition to Digital Video Success

Rogers Media’s aim is simple: distribute video wherever people are consuming it. Using Brightcove’s technology, Rogers Media is able deliver on that goal.

Fallon explains: "In general, we’ve found Brightcove’s product plans and roadmaps align nicely with our needs, whether it’s SSAI, Brightcove Social, mobile SDKs, or integration with different ad servers. Brightcove is really a partner to us. There is a strong fit between the needs of our business and what Brightcove recognizes as trends in the media industry and priorities for media companies."

Zokaei praises Brightcove’s Video Cloud solution for its high-functioning adaptability and superior technology.

"Brightcove has the fastest player on the market, and that’s very important for our audiences who want fast, uninterrupted viewing. We also have a lot of flexibility in how we customize and modify our players based on our brands. Each of our brands has its own unique needs, so customization is key."

Overall, the collaboration between Rogers Media and Brightcove has delivered strong results. In expanding localized video content to digital platforms, Rogers Media has found a way to reframe its value potential for advertisers.

Innovation Continues for Rogers Media

With Brightcove handling the heavy lifting on the technical side, Rogers Media is able to focus its efforts on finding innovative ways to expand. The company hopes to incorporate new discoverability methods to introduce viewers to alternative content. It’s also exploring digital live-feed capabilities for those who want to consume content in real time.

To increase monetization opportunities, Rogers Media plans to use Brightcove’s SSAI tools, which mitigate the impact of ad blockers and deliver an improved TV-like viewing experience across multiple platforms. The company has implemented Brightcove Social for its major brands, allowing streamlined publishing and aggregated performance data across both social networks and owned and operated sites.

In the end, Rogers Media doesn’t want to just grow as a company. It wants to continue building brands that offer relevant, reliable content to its audience where they want it. Zokaei explains: "We want to make it easy for our audience to get to the content they care about by bringing that content to the platforms they want to consume it on."

"We are leveraging our content to turn viewers into local superfans. We want to win our viewers’ time so they’ll continue watching our channels, using our digital products, and interacting with our brands," concludes Fallon.