Rogers Multi-Phase 4-Month NHL Broadcaster Campaign

As the NHL puck finally drops on the 2014/15 season, Canadian communications giant Rogers has really ramped up its multi-channel, marketing campaign promoting its new role as the exclusive broadcaster of the NHL in Canada,,


This initially slow-burning, multi-phase marketing programme first kicked off as long as ago as 1 July – the date that Rogers’ 12-year, $5.2bn deal for NHL broadcast and multimedia rights went into effect.


The media behemoth kicked off its ‘NHL On Rogers’ campaign across its own media properties with a TV-led ‘Reverance’ initiative that aimed aimed to let Canadians know that Rogers, Sportsnet and the NHL all understand just how important the game is in the country and to assure fans knew the broadcaster would treat it with respect and would bring it to them in new and authentic ways.


This has been spearheaded by powerful and atmospheric TV ads featuring emotional music and exploring the NHL’s history through slow-motion shots of fans and action.


Despite being months away from the first puck drop, Rogers used other major sports events that brought Canadians together, such as Canadian tennis star Bouchard’s historic run at Wimbledon, to run the ads and remind them them who will bring them their hockey fix come October.


These included ‘Greatness’






and ‘Just A Game’



Another spot in this September phase was ‘Messier Monday’



As with most nationwide Canadian initiatives, a French-speaking ambassador, Luc Robitaille, was also brought onboard to be the Rogers spokesperson in Quebec


Also in September Rogers ran a community-led commercial for Sportsnet thanking Brantford for its contribution to hockey: Brantford, Ontario being the hometown of one Wayne Gretzky.



In the weeks before the season started, Rogers (@Sportsnet) invited fans to tweet ‘@Sportsnet #schedule’ to get an instant reply which enabled consumers to tweet back with their own favourite team selection and then download the entire NHL schedule on to their smartphone calander.


@Sportsnetwill is also sending out those followings its feed one custom hockey highlight per day, as well as running @Sportsnetopening conversations using the hashtag #PuckDrop.


On 6 October, two days before the season opened, a Rogers spot offered a sneak peek at what the NHL viewing experience will look like for Rogers customers with ‘GamePlus’ which features new innovative camera angles, such as the Ref Cam, the Sky Cam and more.



Rogers is also running a social campaign on this theme through the season: sharing some of the camera angles and the ‘My reply’ sections which enable Rogers customers to watch specific game events from 10 different camera angles.


Then when the 8 October season opener finally arrived Messier appeared at the Molson Canadian NHL’s season-opening ‘Face-Off Event’ in Toronto to promote the media company’s range of NHL offerings – including its free to existing customers app – and to promote the inaugural stage of the company’s other major activation starnd – Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour (see http://www.hometownhockey.com/).



In tandem with official NHL bank sponsor and event presenting partner Scotiabank, this road show style campaign offers Canadians in 25 communities across the nation a chance to experience a free outdoor hockey festival, including a scheduled NHL game viewing party (hosted by Ron MacLean from the mobile Sportsnet Mobile Studio), plus interactive games, appearances by NHL alumni and family entertainment.



Each week though the 2014/15 season, the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour will arrive in a different Canadian community offering residents a two-day family festival of free outdoor hockey festivities culminating in an outdoor viewing party of an NHL game broadcast every Sunday (with MacLean hosting live onsite from the Sportsnet Mobile Studio).


Rogers Hometown Hockey also activates across multiple channels including a web hub and Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


As well as the marketing programme, this is a deeply vertically integrated programme for Rogers.


Its own retail stores are selling its hockey coverage and its own media arms are championing hockey too.


Indeed, even Today’s Parent magazine has a hockey-focused feature every issue this season (such as ‘How to create a hockey birthday party@


The Rogers-owned Shopping Channel is now selling as many as 400 exclusive NHL products.




This entire marketing plan and programme was shaped by a major Rogers research project which it began back in February in tandem with the NHL itself.


This project asked Canadians to be ‘fan advisers’ and it had a primary focus on developing a deeper understanding of the relationship that new Canadians and the younger generation have toward the sport.


One of the takeaways from the research was that viewers wanted more stories behind the game.


The new story-telling approach marks a change of direction from Sportsnet’s previous marketing and a change of planning and creative structure too.


In past, all Rogers sports channel advertising was produced by the in-house advertising team, but for the new NHL work that team allied with ad agency, Publicis.


The agency is focusing on the creative and advertising work, while Rogers Media focuses on its internal NHL media.


The aim is, of course, to grow the Rogers audience over the 12-year deal, engage with new, different demographics and thus increase its revenue.


It aims to reverse recent trends too.


For instance, in 2010 its core Sportsnet channels had more than 9.1 million subscribers, but last year that figure had dropped to less than 8.5 million as some Canadians switch to online streaming services.


This, of course, has a knock-on effect on ad revenue.


Like Sky in the UK, the strategy is based on the idea that live events, led by sport, are the route to contemporary broadcasting success as they are typically watched in real-time, there is little recorded ad skipping and they build powerful emotional connections with viewers.


And like the Premier League in the UK, the NHL is far and away Canada’s favourite sport with 59% of those who watch TV viewing at least one NHL game each week last season and a further 39% watching more than one game (according to Charlton Strategic Research).




Rogers Hometown Hockey Website



Rogers Hometown Hockey Twitter



Rogers Hometown Hockey Instagram



Rogers Hometown Hockey  Facebook



Rogers Communications Website



Publicis Canada Website



NHL Website



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