Rogers Communications has officially launched a beta version of its Rogers On Demand Online service that serves up TV content on its own Web portal.
CED first reported on the service, which is Rogers’ version of Time Warner Cable’s TV Everywhere and Comcast’s On Demand Online offerings, in September.
Starting today, any customer with a Rogers account can go to Rogersondemand.com and register to use Rogers On Demand Online for free. From there, users can access the content anywhere in Canada with a streaming Internet connection.
Dermott O’Carroll, senior vice president of engineering and network operations for Rogers Cable Communications, provided some details on the service during last month’s SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Denver. O’Carroll said Rogers’ subscribers would be authenticated through their cable modems when they use the service, which gives Rogers’ customers TV shows, movies and content in their homes but doesn’t address moving that content to mobile devices – for now.
Rogers’ Web site said that in addition to cable modems, users can also verify their accounts via a text message to their Rogers wireless phone, or by providing their Rogers account number.
The service, which is available to all of Rogers’ cable, home phone, data and wireless customers, features more than 1,000 hours of content from 17 broadcast and production partners and 30 channels. Some of the channels include Food Network Canada, Big 10 Networks and HGTV Canada. Rogers’ viewers will also be able to “catch up” on ABC shows – including “Ugly Betty,” “Cougar Town” and “Extreme Home Makeover: Home Edition” – through Citytv.
The content available to each subscriber is based on the tier of cable service that they are currently signed up for.
"Rogers On Demand Online is an extension of the existing cable television model, which customers have come to enjoy and rely on at home, that truly revolutionizes the world of entertainment and provides the most convenient TV content access ever made available," said David Purdy, vice president of video product management at Rogers Cable. "By expanding the TV experience to the Internet, Rogers customers can now take TV beyond the box with their favorite shows, movies, TV classics and exclusive content – all in one place from virtually any place – wherever they have an Internet connection in Canada. And this is just the beginning."
While the business model of TV Everywhere-type services is still a work in process, Rogers also announced that the Starcom MediaVest Group, on behalf of its clients – which include Research In Motion, Kellogg's, Kraft, Samsung and others – have signed an exclusive launch sponsorship with Rogers On Demand Online.
Comcast’s On Demand Online service, which has 24 programmers lined up, is set to go live next month.
Meanwhile, Rogers Communications says it plans to cut 3 percent of its workforce as part of its plan to integrate its wireless and cable segments. The 900 layoffs are targeted at middle management, according to the company.
Rogers also reported it had increased its stake in Canadian cable op Cogeco Cable by $116.6 million, bringing its share of the company’s subordinate voting shares to 29.8 percent. Rogers now owns 3.2 million shares of Cogeco. In addition to the shares, Rogers also raised its stake in Cogeco’s parent company to 1.62 million shares.
In a statement, Rogers said the purchase was for “investment purposes” and that it has “no current intention” of buying the company.
The deal positions Rogers to better compete against Shaw Communications, which recently purchased Mountain Cablevision in Ontario. Mountain Cablevision’s market competes closely with Cogeco and Rogers’ own cable segment in the Toronto area.
– Wireless Week’s Maisie Ramsay contributed to this report