Hockey stirs up emotion in many people, but none so much as in a Canadian – hockey is in their blood and they take it very seriously. Rogers of Canada takes it seriously as well – to the tune of a $5.2 BILLION, 12-year deal they struck for the rights to the NHL rights last November. We are only a few weeks into the hockey season and already Bell is crying foul on Rogers and running to the Canadian Radio-television and Communications Commission (CRTC) saying that the exclusive camera angles that Rogers offers only to their customers on their GamePlus mobile app – especially the one on the referee's helmet – violates CRTC rules. Specifically the one that requires that content created for television must be offered to all competitors. Rogers is arguing that the content was not created for regular television, but for a mobile application and it is only available online, not for broadcast on television.
Rogers does offer the same Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE package for $200 to not only its own customers, but to anybody that wants to subscribe – by doing this they feel they are allowing everybody equal access to the video that is broadcast over the airwaves and cable. The exclusive GamePlus feature, available only for Rogers' customers was revealed on October 6 and almost immediately, a customer complained: "I pay the exact same $200 that other people do for GameCentre, but because my Internet service provider is Shaw, not Rogers, I don't get anywhere near as much features."
Rogers defended their move in pointing out that the special camera angles were designed for use only on the mobile app and therefore should qualify for an exemption – Rogers spokeswoman Patricia Trott said in an email: "Clearly this programming is not designed for conventional TV. Conventional TV broadcasts the exact same program to a mass audience who all see the same content, presented the same way. With GamePlus, each fan has a unique experience…We wouldn't have developed [the features] solely for broadcast use. It's a shame that [BCE-owned] Bell is trying to stop innovation in hockey. This may be one of the reasons they failed to secure the rights in the first place…We've invested in significant new innovations to bring Canadians an enhanced experience."
It does sound like Bell is crying over spilt milk – Rogers did pay for the rights to the games and believes that their customers deserve a little 'extra' for being a Rogers' subscriber. They are allowing the games themselves – what you would see broadcast – available to any carrier subscriber for $200 per year. The extra camera angles are viewable ONLY online, via their GamePlus app. Bell claims that this is just the beginning and that violations may escalate over the 12-year contract period. Rogers's argument sounds fair to me, but one never knows if the CRTC will cry foul or issue a power play. Rogers will have until November 20th to officially respond and then Bell will have 10 days to reply. The CRTC could then do one of three things: issue a decision, ask for more information or call a formal hearing into the matter. Please look us up on our Google+ Page and let us know if you think Rogers is being unfair, if Bell is just whining and how you think the CRTC will rule in this matter…as always, we would love to hear from you.