In the last of the Canadian television media company upfronts, Rogers delivered their message in a slick, pre-packaged video preview.

It was emphasiszed over and over again that Sportsnet is now the “undisputed” No. 1 sports media brand in Canada. Blue Jays host Jamie Campbell proclaimed it. Chief Revenue Officer Al Dark repeated it, “no matter how you cut the data.”

Making this claim at Stanley Cup playoff time is a no-brainer. While that $5.2 billion, 12-year NHL exclusive rights deal is heading for the last few seasons, Rogers is sewing up regional coverage beyond that national package. NHL teams in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver have already inked regional coverage deals.

On Monday, however, Rogers was keen to promote many headlines away from hockey annd sports in general. Like rival Corus, their virtual upfront reel was sprinkled with celebrities. Late night host Jimmy Kimmel asked, “What more could you Canadians want?” Howie Mandel, Steve Harvey and Ron MacLean were also all in on the pitch.

Among the newsier headlines: Cheryl Hickey, who departed Corus last November when ET Canada was mothballed, has landed at Rogers opposite former CityLine host Tracy Moore. Together they’ll co-host an extra, national hour, from 10 to 11 am weekdays, of the Citytv morning show Breakfast Television.

A fourth season of Canada’s Got Talent has been ordered and there will be changes on the judges desk. Look for Shania Twain and Canadian-Irish comedienne Katherine Ryan to join Mandel and Kardinal Offishall when the series resumes in 2025. Departing are Lilly Singh and Trish Stratus.


Hudson & Rex will come barking back for a seventh season which will begin early in 2025. And, after a spectacular debut, two further seasons of Citytv’s top-rated Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent has been ordered.

Then there was Monday’s really big news. Rogers Sports & Media’s Colette Watson touched on the deal with Warner Bros – Discovery to bring their factual specialty brands HGTV, Food, Cooking, Motor Trend and Animal Planet under the Rogers tent. This will start January 1st, leaving Corus scrambling to rename the specialty stations they currently run. Rogers has made a further deal to re-introduce NBCUniversal’s Bravo programming, a move scheduled to happen this fall.

Brand integration was a big part of Dark’s talk, with Kraft Hockeyville, Hyundai and Scott tissues getting some free upfront plugs. We were told in big white letters on red backgrounds that brand integration enjoyed a 50 per cent recall at Rogers, well above the industry standard. At least I think that was the message, I can’t quite recall.

Another graphic declared that award shows are back on the upswing after the lean pandemic years. Citytv shows the Golden Globes, Grammys and New Year’s Rockin Eve and they were up 50, 28 and 23 percent over the previous year in audience tallies.

There were scenes of many billboards showing Rogers offerings strategically placed along the Gardiner expressway in Toronto, an especially good buy since motorists will be stranded there for three- to six-hour commutes for the next hundred years.

Late in the video, Rick Campanelli introduced Rogers’ programming boss Hayden Mindell, who hyped the new imported acquasitions before immediately handing things back to Campanelli.

Mondays will be where Joan Vasso looks for a second chance at love as the first ever Golden Bachelorette. That will be followed by the new NBC medical drama Brilliant Minds starring Zachary Quinto. Tuesdays is Dancing with the Stars followed by a second season of The Irrational.

Wednesdays City has all those Chicago shows. Thursdays are Law & Order shows plus the missing persons hour Found. Fridays is Dateline. Saturdays: Hockey Night in Canada. Sundays is where City simulcasts all the animation domination from Fox, including The Simpsons ands Bob’s Burgers. This is familar, mom and dad fare, pretty much what you find now on every broadcaster.

Law & Order Toronto returns mid-season, as does doggie Rex and Law & Order Organized Crime.

TV turned Rogers radio host Campanelli got around to the FX Networks that Rogers imports. New seasons of What We Do in the Shadows was mentioned as was new FX series such as The English Teacher. Considering what an awards magnet FX programming is in the US, Rogers doesn’t really shine a bright promotional light on what many consider some of the most prized programs in America (including Fargo, The Old Man, and Welcome to Wrexham).

Bravo Canada got a brisk and flashy 60 second window featuring Real Housewives and other distractions.

Things wrapped up briskly with final shout outs from Howie and the Law & Order Toronto peeps.

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