2016, The Year Rogers Wants To Forget

They might be the largest telecommunications company in Canada, but 2016 was not a kind year for Rogers and one that the company would most likely want to forget ever happened. For years the company has been on a constant growth curve, from the days of Founder Ted Rogers to Nadir Mohamed. Then in December 2013 the Rogers board appointed Guy Laurence to take over as Nadir was retiring, they had also just signed a 12-year agreement with the NHL for broadcast rights for $5.2 billion. As part of the deal they also hired George Stroumboulopoulos from CBC in an attempt to draw younger audiences. Around June the following year, the writing was on the wall, and the numbers to support the move just were not there as Rogers announced that Ron MacLean would return to hosting duties.

The End of Publishers Paradise

Rogers Media made some major announcements on its publishing side as Flare, Sportsnet, MoneySense and Canadian Business were moving to digital only publications. Maclean’s, Chatelaine,Today’s Parent, moved to a less frequent schedule but would remain print versions.
Rogers said “Au revoir,” as they sold off French titles Châtelaine, LOULOU and L’actualité, other publications that were sold off include Marketing Magazine, Medical Post, Advisor’s Edge and Canadian Grocer, for a total of 34 publications.

Guy Laurence Out As Rogers CEO, Its A Family Affair

To be the largest company in an industry you have to shake a few feathers, unfortunately for Guy he shook the wrong feathers. It should not be that surprising since four of Rogers’ 14 board members are members of the family. Mid-October Rogers announced that Guy would be let go and replaced by ex-Telus CEO Joseph Natale, but the problem there is Joseph has a non-compete agreement which prevents him from working for a competitor until June 2017. In 2013, Guy Laurence made a total of $12.7 million according to figures disclosed in Rogers’ annual report, so firing him before his contact ended certainly cost Rogers a few million.

shomi vs Netflix – The Streaming Battle Over Video

With Netflix changing the way how the world consumes television shows and movies, Rogers set its sites on an online streaming with its partner Shaw Communications launching their joint-service shomi. The service was initially launched just to Shaw and Rogers customers, then rolled out to any Canadian who was interested in the service.  Unfortunately at the end of November it was announced the service would be shut down and Rogers was expected to take a loss between $100-million and $140-million on its investment for the fiscal third quarter.

If You Can’t Beat Them…Who Needs Innovation Anyways

While the year was coming to a close, more bad news for Rogers hit the company hard. On December 16 Rogers announced that it was abandoning its plans for their own internet protocol television (IPTV) product, instead they were going to opt to partner with U.S. cable operator Comcast Corporation and its X1 cloud-based television platform. This decision would cost shareholders $525 million in the form of a fourth-quarter pre-tax non-cash impairment. While the write-off might not affect the company’s cash flow, it most certainly shows the market the lack of innovation Rogers is capable of accomplishing.

Don’t expect anything significant to happen from Rogers until August 2017. Joe Natale takes over as the fourth CEO of Rogers, so it will be at least thirty days will he officially puts his mark on the company.