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Rogers Unboxes 'TV Everywhere'

Jeff Baumgartner
11/30/2009

Canadian cable and mobile services giant Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) is kicking off its cross-platform, broadband video strategy with the launch of Rogers On Demand Online, offering more than 1,000 hours of content from almost 50 broadcast and cable programming partners. (See Rogers Debuts TV Everywhere.)

The move fits with the "TV Everywhere" strategy that North American MSOs are starting to employ to protect their core video subscription base. (See What Fights Cord-Cutting? and Cable Downplays 'Cord-Cutting' Threat .) But copyright issues prevent Rogers from offering the service outside of Canada.

But not just any connection will do. Rogers recommends a minimum downstream bandwidth of 1 Mbit/s for the On Demand Online slate, which includes programming from The Biography Channel, HGTV Canada, Rogers Sportsnet, Food Network Canada, and G4, as well as access to individual U.S. TV series such as Ugly Betty, Survivor, and Glee (via a partnership with GlobalTV.com).

Taking a page from the Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) plan to launch its own version of On Demand Online by mid-December, Rogers is offering access to the programming via a centralized portal developed with Comcast corporate cousin thePlatform Inc. Under an opt-in model, Rogers customers must sign up at the portal to get authenticated for the broadband video service. There's still no word as to when Rogers's programming partners will begin to offer access from their own Websites, though thePlatform recently introduced a new service that would allow that. (See thePlatform Plugs In 'TV Everywhere'.)

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It's unclear how many devices customers can tether to Rogers On Demand Online, though its FAQ notes that one person per cable or wireless account can join the service. (Corporate wireless accounts aren't eligible.) Rogers was not immediately available for further comment.

Comcast, in comparison, has already indicated that each customer home will be allowed to connect to its On Demand Online service from as many as three different devices.

But video-capable mobile handsets will factor into the equation. Rogers VP of video product management David Purdy told Bloomberg that the company would extend access to smartphones in early 2010.

First taste is free
The MSO is offering access for free to all Rogers cable, home phone, high-speed Internet, and wireless customers, but the broadband video service will be governed by Rogers's metered Internet service policy, which could result in additional charges. (See Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses.)

For example, the company's Express tier (10 Mbit/s downstream) limits consumption to 60 gigabytes per month and charges $2 per gigabyte beyond that. Its 50-Mbit/s Docsis 3.0 tier allows up to 175 gigabytes before a 50 cent-per-gigabyte charge factors in. And Rogers's policy limits metered Internet charges to $25 in any given month. (See Rogers Ramps Up Docsis 3.0.)

Rogers's mobile Internet service is also subject to bandwidth consumption plans. Among examples, an $85 fixed data plan allows up to 5 gigabytes per month, while its high-end $90 plan offers up to 5 gigabytes per month, with a 3 cent charge for every additional megabyte consumed.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News



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