Rogers Puts TV on the ‘Net with On Demand Online

By: Lee Rickwood

December 6, 2009

Rogers Communications has booted up its new online video service, so its customers can get on demand access to individual shows and entire TV channels.

Going gaga over On Demand Online

Going gaga over On Demand Online

It’s not iCraveTV (remember them?!?) it’s not Hulu (find out more here).

But the Rogers On Demand Online portal does provide Rogers customers (and only its customers) with an online video player and content search tools so they can watch TV content at a time and place of their choosing.

 Rogers’ owned properties, like Sportsnet, appear on the portal, but also nearly a thousand hours of programming from other broadcasters, including TVO, Citytv, Treehouse and SuperChannel, among many others. More content partnership announcements are forthcoming, the company says.

Dave Purdy, Vice President Video Product Management at Rogers Communications says that mobile availability will be added to the service next year. Social media tools and site links will be added too, and live events will be offered.

Access to the site is for Rogers’ customers; certain authentication or entitlement procedures are designed to ensure – or restrict – customers’ access to same channels they get on cable.

The portal’s back-end system allows Rogers to monitor and identify cable modem IP addresses, to link to subscriber data and service package descriptions, and to ensure entitlement or authentication to corresponding online content.

So what you get on cable is what you get online, based on your subscription package.

Other content restrictions can arise from territorial rights negotiations, and geo-blocking requirements that result. Rogers has obtained online program rights for Canadian distribution, but not in the U.S.

The site offers basic navigation choices and access to content by category (TV Shows, Movies, Genres, Channels, What’s Hot), Favourites, Most Watched and more. Programs can be paused, rewound or fast forwarded using control on the built-in video viewer, which starts showing the streaming content fairly quickly once selected.

Of course, banner ads and other online promotional material are sprinkled throughout the portal and alongside the video – but there is a full screen and ‘dim the lights’ mode so you can actual focus on your desired program.

The shows are aired with commercial breaks intact (if they have them on air), although right now only one commercial usually runs in the break. The ads cannot be skipped or fast forwarded, but you can return to a program to pick up where you left off, without having to watch all the show (or the commercials) again.

Two qualities, or profiles, for content delivery are supported on the site right now: a standard definition service delivers decent quality video at 480 Kbits, while a higher quality profile delivers video at one Mbit.

Plans at Rogers are to get speeds up to 2 or 2.5 Mbits per second.

Of course, your Internet usage rates and package caps will be affected by the streaming of high quality TV content, so usage meters are now or soon to be part of the service.

However, content on the portal will be greater than that available over the air in some cases. Purdy described how DVD style extras can be added to the portal, and he said that some conventional over the air TV shows are edited for time and audience sensitivity.

What are you watching online – and how?

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