Rogers Cable's TVB On Demand

First Place: Content Distributor Division

Toronto is a polyglot, multiethnic city, and no cable operator serves it better than Rogers Cable, which offers channels in more than 60 languages. But how to target the city’s growing Chinese community with a new On Demand offering required careful strategizing.

The On Demand content—TVB, a popular Hong Kong network offering Cantonese-language dramas—mdash;brought brand awareness to the table. "We know that they prefer to watch programming from back home," said Bobby Sahni, Rogers’ manager of multicultural marketing.

On the minus side, however, TVB programming was already available through other media and other technologies. "It’s a pretty fiercely competitive environment for us given that illegal satellite providers are quite prevalent in this community, IPTV technologies are making inroads and the many local video stores carry copies of this programming on DVD," said Mr. Sahni.

The solutions, said Mr. Sahni, was to promote not just the content of TVB On Demand, but the entire TV offering relevant to the Chinese community. "We packaged it with our linear programming of 20-plus Chinese-language channels," said multicultural marketing coordinator Dilhan Kamalendaran. "We used TVB On Demand to promote and upsell on our linear programming."

Mr. Sahni said they also "dialed up the convenience" of using the on-demand platform. "That was one of the main points in our campaign, that what they wanted was available whenever they wanted," he said.

Pricing the TVB On Demand programming properly also was key. "People can walk into the store and pick up a DVD for next to nothing," said Mr. Kamalendaran. "We had to be competitive with that pricing, so we packaged each drama as three episodes for $2.25, which is competitive with the going rate in a video store and offers the convenience of a video library at home."

To whet appetites, said Mr. Sahni, they offered the first three episodes of each of TVB’s dramas for free, so audiences could test the on-demand product before committing. Another compelling factor was that Rogers Cable got the episodes only three or four weeks after the initial release in China, whereas satellite providers’ wares were months outdated.

The campaign to promote TVB On Demand was multifaceted. "Fortunately in Toronto there’s a lot of media to reach this community in terms of news publications, TV shows, special magazines and radio."

In addition to print ads and spots on local Chinese-language media, Sahni also ran a print ad with a TVB programming guide in Video Box, a magazine distributed at video stores.

"People who want to know what’s in the video store often pick up this magazine, so to see TVB On Demand showed them an alternative to getting the programming," said Mr. Sahni.

An online component to the campaign included a banner ad that led to a landing page with more information on what Rogers Cable offers. A direct-mail component included a letter in Chinese introducing the new technology from Rogers and its entire linear offering. Thirty-second spots ran on digital screens in Chinese grocery stores.

Rogers Cable also partnered with Omni Television, which offers a newscast to the Chinese community; within that newscast, a Rogers Cable representative demonstrated the on-demand product and showed how easy it is to access content.

The campaign also was aimed at existing analog customers among the Chinese community. "They had no reason to migrate to digital up until now," said Mr. Kamalendaran. "We used this as an opportunity to move them onto our digital platform so they could get even more Chinese-language channels. And we wanted to introduce them to the VOD platform, which they hadn’t experienced yet."

Rogers Cable hit a home run with this campaign. The goal was to achieve 2,000 free buys (of the initial three-episode offering) within the first 30 days of launch, and 3,000 initial paid buys. The community response blew that out of the water with 4,500 orders for the free content and 6,500 paid buys within the first two months.

"The community appreciates it when a mainstream corporation will speak to them in a language they prefer, about something they want to hear about," said Mr. Sahni. "I would say this is a good template to reach an ethnic community with the right communications mix coupled with targeted programming."

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