The CRTC has announced this morning it has sided with Rogers and “innovation” over Bell, after the latter complained the former’s exclusive NHL GamePlus feature was unfair and violated broadcast rules:
To encourage innovative ways of presenting content and the creation of compelling content for digital media, including Internet and mobile video services, the CRTC allows companies to provide exclusive content to their subscribers, as long as it is not created mainly for traditional television.
The CRTC considers that the programming available on GamePlus is essentially produced for distribution on digital media. As such, it can be offered exclusively and does not constitute an undue preference in favour of Rogers subscribers. In the CRTC’s view, Rogers is in compliance with the established rules.
The CRTC has concluded GamePlus programming is compliant with established rules since it is created for distribution on digital media, acknowledging the NHL feature is a second screen, complimentary service.
Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC, said in a statement “Rogers’ GamePlus service is a complementary service available online to enhance the viewer’s experience,” following up with “I encourage other companies holding broadcasting rights to be innovative online to in order to provide Canadian and international audiences with content that they want to see.”
Rogers GamePlus was announced for NHL GameCenter last October, providing customers with exclusive on-ice camera angles and replays (such as from a referee’s helmet cam). TELUS and Bell both complained to the CRTC, citing the exclusive violated regulatory rules, but Rogers said the “complaint makes no sense”, as it followed the Commission’s guidelines.
Rogers and Bell have traded jabs in the media over the issue, with the Rogers CEO Guy Laurence calling the former a “crybaby” over the issue, noting the complaint was “trying to stifle innovation in hockey.” Meanwhile, TELUS said Rogers was “holding consumers hostage” with NHL GamePlus content, as its customers were unable to access the content.
A landmark $5.2 billion, 12 year deal was signed between Rogers and the NHL back in late 2013, shutting out Bell and its subsidiary TSN from hockey coverage. Rogers also beat out Bell in a bid for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which made the latter’s CEO “not happy”.
This whole spat is like siblings fighting for the last pack of Pop Tarts or yogurt-covered Sunkist Fun Fruits for their recess snack. Can’t we all just get along?