Rogers On Demand Online…. They Might Have A Winner Here

Tonight my wife and I attended a launch party for Rogers On Demand Online which has been in beta since last November. Here’s something from their press release on what this service is:

After a successful Beta phase, Rogers On Demand Online is officially Canada’s one-stop Web destination for on-demand access to a vast video library that features prime time, daytime and specialty TV, movies, sports and music videos. Available to any Rogers Digital Cable, Rogers Wireless, Rogers Home Phone and Rogers Hi Speed Internet customers, Rogers On Demand Online now offers more programming content including live sporting events, concerts and new web-exclusive programming. Rogers Digital Cable customers can also join to watch many of the same subscription-based specialty channels online as they have through their television account.

At the launch party we got some time with Jeremy Butteriss who is the Senior Director, Broadband Entertainment for Rogers and we were able to quiz him about this service and got some insightful answers:

  • Rogers is committed to making this work in a cross platform manner unlike Bell’s rather miserable attempt at doing something similar that was Windows only, DRM laden, and dead just over a year later, or the iTunes Store for that matter (since you can only play videos within iTunes or on an iDevice and Rogers On Demand Online only needs a browser such as Firefox, Chrome, or IE with Flash). Rogers will have announcements about other platforms such as smartphones as time goes on according to Mr. Butteriss.
  • The videos are displayed using Adobe Flash, but Mr. Butteriss admitted that they’ve looking at other formats including H.264. This would be handy for making Apple God CEO Steve Jobs happy as their videos would be playable on those shiny iDevices.
  • Content is one of the key things that will make or break this service. Mr. Butteriss notes that they are being aggressive about adding content and users of the service will see that. He also hinted that Rogers is looking at bringing live events and special to the service. Though he didn’t comment further on that.
  • One of the things that Mr. Butteriss points out is that the service is free. Anyone can sign up and you don’t need to be a Rogers customer. But as I stated above, Rogers customers will have access to the same channels that they get on their TV. By the way if you’re a Fido customer, you’ll get the same treatment as Rogers customers.

To test this service out, I signed up for the service at home on my Teksavvy DSL Internet connection. The setup process was easy and I was asked for my Rogers account number to verify that I was a Rogers customer. Rogers scores points for checking the strength of the password that you enter. Too many times this is something that is forgotten and It’s good to see Rogers take security seriously. The service also uses e-mail verification as well. Another bonus point.

Once I signed up, I had no problems browsing for videos and watching them over my 5 Mbps DSL connection. As for the quality, it’s not HD but it is pretty good and I doubt that anyone will complain. As for the content, Rogers has a fair amount of content online and I’m sure I can find something worth watching online. In my case, 42 channels showed up which were largely made up of the channels that I have on my TV. But a few extra ones were tossed in that are unique to the service such as “Man Channel” which shows things like action movies and TV shows that are “male focused.” One thing that I did note is that I tried to play Valkyrie for example and it said I needed a SuperChannel subscription. So if you’re a Rogers customer, your mileage with this service will vary based on what you subscribe to.

My verdict? I think as Rogers adds more content and opens up the types of devices that support the service, Rogers will have a winner. The only weakness in the service is their use of Flash which might limit the growth of the service because it won’t reach iPhones and iPads or anything else that doesn’t have Flash. But that is a minor point (for now).

It will be interesting to see in a years time how popular this service is. I’m guessing it’s going to gain traction in the marketplace and additional eyeballs for Rogers.

3 Responses to “Rogers On Demand Online…. They Might Have A Winner Here”

  1. Another weakness of this service is the limitation of monthly bandwidth with most internet providers. It will be great for Rogers if this really takes off with their customers as most of their packages have a 60GB limit. If someone with that limit was to use this service frequently, they would go over their 60GB limit thus netting Rogers more money in monthly overage fees. The current limits of most of Canada’s internet providers do not allow a large enough GB allowance for regular use of this type of service.

  2. Thanks for your feedback re concerns over usage and your caps. At present, we treat RODO like all other sites. But based on median usage, average customers can watch between 40-140 hrs of RODO content without going over their cap.

    • Thanks for the post Jeremy, but by capping internet usage, Rogers will (for their benefit) limit the number of users that would cancel their Rogers cable subscription altogether and simply use their internet connection. Most television I am interested in watching is online and I rarely watch television now.

      I do admit I am quite cynical where Rogers is concerned. Twice I was given the message that I was not valued as a customer so I finally left and won’t be back. I had Rogers home phone because I was a Sprint customer and Sprint was bought by Rogers. I only wanted a traditional land line, but after a year of service Rogers sent me a letter that I had to get “their” phone or be disconnected. I wasn’t interested in a battery back up or requiring a dry loop if I went to DSL internet, so I moved my telephone service elsewhere. Secondly being a long time internet customer, my grandfathered lite plan gave me 60GB of usage. This year Rogers decided to take that away and limit it to 25 GB. That was the final straw. I cancelled my internet and cell plan with Rogers and have gone to another company (TekSavvy for phone/internet, Telus for cell) and will never return to Rogers.

      I got the message loud and clear that I was not valued or wanted as a customer so I took Roger’s message and went elsewhere. I’m not even switching to TekSavvy’s new cable offering, because then a portion of my money would again be going to Rogers and Rogers has told me they care about my business. (Of interest, I never go over 60GB so am not a “heavy” internet user).

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