For years its slogan was, "This is CITY-TV – everywhere." But to truly be everywhere, City has decided to ditch the TV.
Rogers Communications Inc. is re-branding its flagship network, revamping all of its on-air imagery, advertising and logos with a pared-down name: City.
The change reflects a larger shift in the media industry as broadcasters seek to cater to viewers' changing habits. Younger consumers have moved away from appointment television viewing, watching programs on their own terms and their own time. While the bulk of City's audience is still on television, people catching up through TV on-demand or online account for 10 per cent to 15 per cent of a typical show's audience. Depending on the show, that number can be as high as 30 per cent, said Dale Hooper, senior vice-president of marketing & consumer insights for Rogers Media Inc.
Like other broadcasters, Mr. Hooper has seen more of City's advertisers asking for the TV commercials they buy to also appear as "pre-roll" video when those episodes are available online. With audiences becoming more fragmented, ad revenues based on a cost-per-thousand-viewers system have been squeezed. This means any cross-platform opportunities – which allow networks to charge slightly more for those pre-roll videos and other digital and mobile add-ons – are key to broadcasters bringing in more revenue.
Online video has become a marketing tool for Rogers, which has begun experimenting with early debuts of shows online; Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project both premiered on the Web a week before they appeared on TV. This month, a new show, Seed, will be unveiled to online audiences a week early.
"You'll start to see how we talk about ourselves as a national brand … it's not just TV any more," Mr. Hooper said.
City is expanding across the country. This year, Rogers inked a deal with Jim Pattison Group for three more stations in Western Canada. It purchased Saskatchewan Communications Network and launched City in Saskatchewan last year. And it won regulatory approval to launch City Montréal in a few weeks.
Saskatchewan and Winnipeg were the first to re-brand as City, in October. Rogers began rolling out the transition in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton over the holiday period.
In March Rogers will launch a major marketing campaign across TV, digital, radio and print to officially promote its new look. "You'll see us talk about how City now is part of a national brand with a consistent image," Mr. Hooper said. "This brand is in a complete evolution mode."
Editor's Note: The reference to City's launch in Western Canada has been edited in the online edition of this story.