Rogers and brand infamy

Would you consider returning to a restaurant that gave you food poisoning? After something has earned a particular hate from you for whatever slight, is there anything that can be done to change your mind about them?

Questions like these come to mind in light of Rogers’ and Shaw’s new joint venture, a Netflix-wannabe called “Shomi”. With the exception of content and a few different yet ultimately insignificant changes in browsing features, Shomi is almost identical to the streaming service we all know.

Yet, even though very little is known about the new service, I find myself immediately against it, for almost no other reason than that it is a Rogers service. I’m currently a customer of theirs, as I feel there’s little other choice when it comes to phone carriers in Canada; while there are definitely other carriers with lower prices, they can’t beat the coverage that Bell, Rogers or Telus offer in term of phone service. I know people who pay a lot less for their phone, but also struggle to get a signal here at the school.

Admittedly, factors aside from how I feel about Rogers also affect my view of the new project. I’m a fan of Netflix. It’s simple and for the most part trouble-free. The idea of Rogers trying to fix something that isn’t broken just to keep up is definitely perplexing. Yes, Rogers and every other cable company is now competing with Netflix for viewers attention, but there’s very little that current Netflix customers need in terms of on-demand internet streaming media. It’s already available in Canada, on mobile, and new content is consistently added or, arguably to greater avail, created (e.g. House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, etc.) There’s also the idea that Rogers is only doing this to bring exclusive content to Shomi, thus robbing Netflix of possible content additions. If it wasn’t clear to Rogers, this is yet another way to frustrate your customers, not win them to your cause.

To be fair, there’s little else that can be done for any cable company at this point, beyond changing the nature of the business. Live TV is slowly solidifying its reputation being as tedious ever since DVR technology allowed my parents to stop watching commercials, and online piracy allowed everyone younger than that to skip cable subscriptions. Without offering the greatest content across any medium or finding a way to change the iron-clad TV advertising model, cable companies are left with very few options other than competing directly with smarter services like Netflix.

Ultimately, much of this is conjecture at this point, but in the end it’s really not about the facts, it’s about how it feels. Rogers could very well be developing something that is everything Netflix should be and more, but it will still take a great deal of effort and time to turn around their brand’s infamy when it comes to customers who have learned to hate them.

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