TORONTO – Even though it has different television regulations, Canada is officially part of North America along with the United States. So as direct-to-consumer television offerings proliferate, companies like Rogers Media are trying to piece together the ever-shifting puzzle that is program acquisition and commissioning.
“So what we need to look at here in Canada is are these platforms going to be North American? If they are, we need to find a way to carve Canada into that,” says Colette Watson, SVP, Television & Broadcast Operations, Rogers Media. Watson has held a variety of ascending roles since starting at Rogers in 1990.
“In terms of program acquisition and program commissioning, we’re now looking at how do we participate in a North American market as opposed to a Canadian market,” Watson adds in this interview with Beet.TV at the recent Future of TV Advertising Forum.
As recently as a couple of years ago, Rogers would compete against Netflix and Amazon for a program hour and come up empty, Watson explains in response to a question from interviewer Ashley J. Swartz, CEO and Founder of Furious Corp.
“But today I find that’s not the case. Studios are now holding their programming back from big global suppliers, not all of it obviously, but they’re looking to create their own over the top products” like CBS All Access.
In addition to the second season of Bad Blood on Oct. 1, Rogers has a variety of its own shows in development, but they’re not 100% exclusive. “Right now, the way the Canadian market works is we create and commission for Canada but we partner on Bad Blood, for example, there’s an international distribution sale with Netflix,” Watson says.
Asked by Swartz whether Rogers approaches original programming first from a linear TV mindset and if it considers going digital-first, linear is still the first step by a margin of roughly 80% to 20%.
“Mostly because producers who come to us still get most of their funding through linear applications. As regulations and legislative frameworks evolve, that will change. It’s a bit of a jigsaw puzzle in terms of how financing works in Canada.”
There is a mix of ad-supported and subscription models, the former represented by two new products from Rogers in October: Citytv NOW and FX NOW.
“As revenue streams change and evolve, you need to add more and more revenue streams,” says Watson. “Creating a good viewer experience, primary. But also creating a good advertiser experience is paramount. And so that’s how we’re looking at our development.”