Category Archives: Broadcasting

Vidéotron to launch Netflix-like streaming service

VideotronVidéotron Ltée is saying non to Netflix Inc.’s Canadian ambitions.

The Montreal-based cable giant, owned by Quebecor Inc., plans to launch Illico Club Unlimited, a Netflix-like service that will offer hundreds of movies and television shows a month to its subscribers for just under $10. While several of Canada’s cable and satellite companies allow subscribers to access content online, this service will be available to anyone with an Internet connection and will allow the Quebec company to compete for viewers outside its traditional markets for the first time – starting with Ontario, when it launches this weekend.

“We bought Canadian rights so we could go across Canada if there is demand,” said Manon Brouillette, consumer market president at Vidéotron, adding that up to 10 per cent of the service’s content could be in English. “Netflix was not a big threat at first but we’ve seen their percentage quietly growing and we decided we must do something or else the market would be open only to them.”

While the vast majority of Netflix content is offered in English only, the U.S.-based company signed a deal with Radio-Canada last year to offer more French-language content and said Thursday “it has made every effort to acquire Canadian titles that reflect the rich cultural, geographic and liguistic diversity of this country.”

While Canada has not seen the same level of cord-cutting as the United States as viewers look for less-expensive ways to access content, cable and satellite companies are anxious to develop their own products that enhance their offerings. About 10 per cent of adult Canadians subscribe to Netflix, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commissioner reported in September, and the number is expected to increase.

So far, however, that hasn’t caused them to give up on traditional television packages. Those without the service watch roughly 16 hours of regular and Internet TV each week, while those with Netflix watch about 21 hours a week, including TV, Internet TV and more than five hours of Netflix programming.

One thing keeping Canadians tied to their cable and satellite companies are the data caps on their Internet connections – some viewers have found that their Internet bills increase prohibitively when they cancel their traditional television services and try to download all of their favourite shows and movies.

Vidéotron hopes to address this by introducing a flat-rate price for unlimited downloads – $10 a month for any customer with at least three services with the company (cable, cellphone and Internet) and $30 a month for those with fewer services. Any of its digital customers – there are about 1.4 million digital subscribers out of 1.8 million – who use one of their set-top boxes won’t be charged for data when using the service.

Read the full story at the Globe and Mail

Rogers shakeup raises pressure as rivals surge

Rogers is on the hunt for a new CEO after Nadir Mohamed's resignation.

Rogers is on the hunt for a new CEO after Nadir Mohamed’s resignation.

Nadir Mohamed’s days were numbered before he ever set foot in the corner office.

When Mr. Mohamed took over as chief executive officer in 2009, he was hailed as a steady hand who could help Rogers Communications Inc. manage its growth at a time when traditional competitors such as BCE Inc. were launching new products intended to cut into Rogers’ long dominance in the cable and cellphone markets.

But sources said some members of the board have grown concerned the company is being outclassed by the rivals it once dismissed, and wants Rogers to reassert itself as the nimble, aggressive and swashbuckling company that founder Ted Rogers presided over until his death in 2008.

Rogers announced Mr. Mohamed’s planned departure Thursday night, saying he will step down in January, 2014. Though the timing caught many in the industry off-guard, Mr. Rogers himself had predicted that his successor wouldn’t likely remain in the top job for longer than five years.

With Mr. Mohamed’s one-year notice officially filed after one of the strongest quarters in the company’s history, the board must now begin an international search for a CEO who can meet the challenge posed by resurgent rivals. Mr. Mohamed made it clear that it was time for someone else to take over Mr. Rogers’ legacy.

Read the story at the Globe and Mail

CBC’s plan to win back hockey fans – more Don Cherry, social media

CBC

CBC

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. has a plan to win back the hundreds of thousands of viewers who found something else to do with their Saturday nights through the NHL lockout– double up on Don Cherry, throw in some social media and hope that a shortened season will push people back into their living rooms until the end of June.

Many of the broadcaster’s plans focus on what happens off the ice as it celebrates its 60th anniversary as the official Saturday night broadcaster of the National Hockey League. It will host a series of free concerts throughout the season in NHL markets, and is hoping to use smartphones and tablets to get viewers to take part in contests and share thoughts and content via social media.

It said Thursday its highest-profile change will see Don Cherry do a live segment between the first and second period of the network’s second game in addition to his usual Coach’s Corner slot in between periods in broadcaster’s early game. It has also added Andi Petrillo to its in-studio team, a move the broadcaster says marks the first time a female has held that role.

The broadcaster watched its Saturday audiences shrink by as much as 85 per cent on some nights through the lockout, as hockey fans found ways to live without Hockey Night in Canada. And with only a year-and-a-half left in its current broadcast deal with the NHL, the CBC is anxious to play up the cultural aspect of the game rather than dwell on any residual anger fans may feel toward the league and its players.

The stakes are high in the shortened season, which starts Saturday afternoon as the CBC shows three games in a row across the country. In a typical year, it airs about 100 regular season games, but this year it will air half the number and it’s still not clear how that will affect its broadcast rights that expire at the end of the 2014 season.

Read the story in the Globe and Mail

CRTC, Corus to lock horns over Oprah network’s licence

Fresh off its decision to kill a multibillion-dollar merger between two of Canada’s largest broadcasters, Canada’s television regulator is preparing to take on a far more formidable opponent – Oprah Winfrey.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and Corus Entertainment are set to do battle over the fate of the specialty channel that bears her name, in another example of the commission’s new appetite for confrontation with broadcasters.

The problem is with the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Canadian licence, which demands the channel must broadcast educational content. That worked when the channel operated as Canadian Learning Television, but when Corus replaced it last year with OWN, the commission took notice of the shift in content.

Now the CRTC is warning “all options are on the table” – including pulling Corus’ licence for the channel – unless the Toronto-based broadcaster can convince commissioners that it will provide more educational programming and fewer guilty pleasures such as Are You Normal, America? and Lovetown, USA.

“The commission found that while OWN’s programming was focused on ‘enhancement programming,’ it did not provide basic adult education, job development skills or professional development as reflected in its nature of service definition,” the regulator said in a statement.

To keep both its licence and the legions of female viewers that come along with all things Oprah, Corus said it is willing to introduce four weekly educational shows to the channel’s lineup to bolster its homegrown educational content – E-Commerce Done RightThe Job Seekers Guide to Career HappinessFinance for Everyone and The History of Canadian Art.

Read the story in the Globe and Mail

CRTC to Rogers: Turn down the ad volume

Canada’s broadcast regulator is asking Rogers Communications to explain – quietly – why it keeps blasting high-volume commercials on its stations despite new rules that insist levels remain consistent throughout a broadcast.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission sent a letter to the cable and broadcasting giant, saying it first received complaints about loud commercials after a football game was aired on CityTV Sept. 9.

The commission said Wednesday that Rogers agreed to solve the problem after it was told about the issues with the football game, which it blamed on “human and technology issues.” But the commission’s letter to Rogers noted that it continues to receive complaints about loud commercials on Rogers-owned television stations.

“Despite these assurances regarding the above complaints, the CRTC is now in receipt of new complaints about Rogers Media regarding similar loudness issues,” the commission wrote. “As such, it will be necessary for Rogers Media to confirm that it is in compliance with its regulatory obligations.”

To do that, the commission is asking Rogers to submit its new procedures, describe what it’s doing to ensure staff get things right and provide a list of any technological updates it will do to ensure its equipment keeps volumes even throughout a broadcast.

Read the story in the Globe and Mail