SBD/February 5, 2014/Media

Rogers, NHL Plan Ten-City Canadian Tour To Research Fan Viewing Habits

Rogers Communications following its 12-year, C$5.2B media rights deal with the NHL is "embarking on a tour of 10 cities across the country," with reps from both sides "going to local minor hockey associations, sports pubs, and even into the homes of people who are interested in becoming 'fan advisers,'" according to Krashinsky & Atkins of the GLOBE & MAIL. Rogers and the league are "funding the research tour together to learn how Canadians’ hockey viewing habits are changing -- and how better to market the sport to them." The tour will include all seven Canadian cities with NHL teams "plus three other markets where hockey has a strong foothold." The researchers "will focus on gathering feedback from three priority groups: new Canadians, existing core fans, and young people, whose changing media consumption habits are posing a challenge to the entire industry." Rogers yesterday said that its NHL lineup "will include regional coverage of all 82 regular season games" played by the Canucks, Flames and Oilers. The company said that it also will carry 53 Maple Leafs games, "including 40 carried nationally." Rogers also announced that it "will air more than 130 games in the marquee Hockey Night in Canada slot on CBC on Saturdays." Hoping to make NHL games "a tradition on Sundays, Rogers will host that night’s national broadcast from community rinks, featuring local pro player profiles and a 'grassroots' feel" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/5).

COAST-TO-COAST COVERAGE: The AP reported Rogers is "going to air 500 regular-season NHL games in Canada starting next season." Rogers said that it will "broadcast games across 13 Canadian TV channels, including City, Sportsnet and cable channel FX Canada." What is "still unclear is whether longtime traditions such as CBC's 'Coach's Corner' -- and its co-hosts, Don Cherry and Ron MacLean -- will be part of Rogers' programming umbrella." Rogers execs yesterday "kept the focus" on plans for the company to expand beyond "HNIC," including the "Hometown Hockey" program that will air from community rinks (AP, 2/4). The CP's David Friend wrote Rogers' announcement was "designed to drum up excitement from the media buyers who will help pay off" the company's NHL deal (CP, 2/4). Meanwhile, Rogers President of Sportsnet & NHL Scott Moore yesterday said, "Pay per view has found its way out of the ecosystem. While I would never say never, I think that would be a backwards step." Moore also said that he is "looking at installing more wired-up over-ice cameras (like the NFL), or cameras that roll along the top of the side glass to offer viewers new angles" (TORONTO STAR, 2/5).
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