Bell files complaint with CRTC over Rogers GamePlus Feature

gamecentreBell Media, recent losers in the battle for the NHL national rights contract, has filed a complaint with the CRTC over their GamePlus feature that is available as a Rogers-exclusive on the NHL GameCentre Live app. Bell argues that the feature violates a CRTC rule that requires that content created for television must be offered to competitors. GamePlus allows viewers to choose alternate angles including RefCam and SkyCam.

The Globe and Mail elaborates on the CRTC rule:

The CRTC’s rules for vertically integrated players – companies that both create and distribute media content – bar media owners from withholding content from their rivals on the distribution front. The commission exempts online video services from its broadcast regulations, but specifies that television programming cannot be offered on mobile or Internet streaming platforms on an exclusive basis.

In an email to the Globe and Mail, a Rogers spokesperson stated, ““Clearly this programming is not designed for conventional TV. Conventional TV broadcasts the exact same program to a mass audience who all see the same content, presented the same way. With GamePlus, each fan has a unique experience. We wouldn’t have developed [the features] solely for broadcast use.”

The spokesperson then throws some massive shade, “It’s a shame that Bell is trying to stop innovation in hockey. This may be one of the reasons they failed to secure the rights in the first place. We’ve invested in significant new innovations to bring Canadians an enhanced experience.”

Bell is asking the CRTC to allow all subscribers to view GamePlus, regardless of their internet or wireless provider:

In an e-mail, BCE spokesman Mark Langton said: “We don’t see it as especially innovative that Rogers denies GameCentre consumers access to these stats and other features if they aren’t also Rogers internet or wireless customers. These consumers pay for GameCentre just like Rogers customers so why are they denied access to features available on regular broadcast TV anyway? It breaks the CRTC’s digital media rules, and it impacts all GameCentre consumers across Canada who love hockey but aren’t Rogers customers.”

Rogers has a month to respond to the complaint. The general public can also comment on the complaint via the CRTC site.

Dan — @SportsOnCdnTV

GameCentre Live Includes New GamePlus Feature Only For Rogers Customers


The new angles on offer with GamePlus.

If you’re a Rogers subscriber and plan on using GameCentre Live this season, you will have access to an exclusive experience dubbed GamePlus. It will offer new and innovative (to hockey broadcasts, that is) cameras to choose from as well as multiple replay angles, advanced stats, exclusive interviews and expert analysis not available elsewhere.

Here are the new cameras available for viewing:

  • Sky Cam sits at the 200 level in the Air Canada Centre and follows the puck red line to red line at six metres per second;
  • Ref Cam is on the referee’s helmet and puts fans on the ice to get in on face offs, breakaways and goals (the referee’s will not be mic’d up though, so don’t expect to hear player conversations);
  • POV Cam spotlights the hustle from inside the blue lines and for the first time inside the players’ benches;
  • Star Cam tracks a single player throughout the game no matter where the puck goes;
  • Goal Line Cam provides a top-down view of the ice, directly above the offensive action;
  • MyReplay lets fans select multiple replay angles to analyze key plays during the game, including goals, power plays, penalty kills, and the ref’s tough calls.

The above features are only available for select games each week plus the Winter Classic, All-Star game and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Rogers says they have invested $10 million to create this Rogers-only feature (no doubt hoping people will switch to Rogers and help pay off that investment). No word yet whether it will be offered in the future as a paid option to non-Rogers customers.

Seems as though a majority of the eight new angles will only be available for Toronto Maple Leafs games at the Air Canada Centre, though Rogers would like additional cameras such as the SkyCam to other Canadian arenas in the future. It will be interesting to see whether the new angles, especially SkyCam and RefCam will be used during live play on television or restricted solely to replays.

If you’re a Rogers customer with any internet or wireless data plan, you are eligible to access GamePlus with your free subscription until December 31, 2014. If you’re a Rogers customer who does not have any Rogers internet or wireless data plan, but have Rogers Home Phone or Rogers Digital TV (any package), and have subscribed to Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE, you are eligible to access GamePlus.

Dan — @SportsOnCdnTV