Rogers had its third quarter earnings call this morning and CEO Guy Laurence had to talk about more than the state of the economy and financial figures – he was forced to directly comment about their ongoing dispute with Bell concerning Rogers' GamePlus mobile application. When addressing the issue he said, "with respect to the crybaby Bell," the complaint was "puerile." I cannot wait to hear what Bell's response is to that comment, however, it is like two bullies on the same playground and one is upset because the other stole the pretty girl.
This mess all started when Rogers negotiated and received the rights to the NHL games for the next 12-years…all for the tidy sum of $5.2 BILLION, and Bell was none too happy about that partnership. The package is called Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE, and will cost anybody that wants to subscribe a cool $200 for the year – by the rules set forth by the Canadian Radio-television and Communications Commission (CRTC), Rogers must make this available to non-Rogers' subscribers…which they do. So far there is no harm and no foul…until the exclusive Rogers' app, GamePlus, comes into effect.
The Rogers' exclusive mobile app, GamePlus, allows only Rogers' subscribers to have access to special camera angles, such as the cameras mounted on the referee's helmets. This is video feed that would not normally be shown over the airwaves or cable – they are there for the sole purpose of feeding special shots to the mobile app customers. The CRTC state that everybody must have equal access to video broadcast over the networks, and this is clearly not being broadcast anywhere – it is strictly online, accessible only through the app.
The problem started when 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." Bell has presented their case to the CRCT and now the 'puck' is in their court and there are three things that can happen – they can issue a decision, ask for more information or call a formal hearing into the matter. Any guesses as to the outcome. It does seem that Bell is crying over spilt milk…CEO Laurence claims that Bell failed to win NHL broadcast rights because their proposal wasn't innovative enough. The GamePlus features clearly are not being broadcasted via normal channels, but are available to view only online. It will be interesting to see what the CRCT has to say about it.
Please comment on our Google+ Page and let us know what you think of this dispute. Do you believe that Bell has a legitimate complaint or are they simply being a 'crybaby," like Rogers' CEO Laurence claims…as always, we would love to hear from you.