Blog: Singing, dancing and drama at Rogers’ upfront

MiC guest blogger Valerie McMorran of Starcom shares her experience at Rogers' fall TV presentation at the Canon Theatre in Toronto on Wednesday.

With only a few hours in between the Canwest and Rogers launches, I managed to squeeze in a bit of productive time back at the office (not as much fun as the NYC Upfront routine of shopping and dining). I then grabbed a cab once again and made it downtown to the Canon Theatre, this time solo. Show time was scheduled at 2:30 p.m.

The show began with entertaining singing and dancing from the cast of stage show Rock of Ages. (It looks like Glee really has caught on!) We also heard from rap artist More or Les, who performed a custom-made song highlighting Rogers content (both on Citytv and OMNI). All singing and dancing soon came to an end and Leslie Sole, CEO of Rogers Media, came out to thank the advertising community for their support of Rogers Media, especially during their recent changes to local programming.

Despite these recent cuts, Rogers wanted to stress that it continues to program 27.5 weekly hours of original programming on Citytv and more than 30 weekly hours on OMNI. Talent from Breakfast Television and the network’s news and local programming came on stage, with Kevin Frankish and Dina Pugliese showcasing some marketing initiatives that have been executed on BT. (And Dina, I did like your dress, despite what Kevin said about it…just take a look at his suspenders!)

Mitch Dent, EVP sales, then talked about the strength of Rogers, most notably the incredible growth of Citytv this past year with ratings growth of over 75%. They now have proven comedies (How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock, Cougar Town, Modern Family) together with successful reality series (The Biggest Loser, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Bachelor, Hell’s Kitchen). The focus now, he said, is to build ratings in primetime, particularly at 10 p.m. And yes, some fun was poked at the demise of Jay Leno, which once held the 10 p.m. time slot. (‘If anyone needs a Jay Leno mug, we have cases of them,’ he cracked.) Dent concluded his section by saying that while online is growing, it is the combination of television and online that drives greatest impact: television is clearly not dead. After all, Dent declared, it’s the television shows that are most talked about on Facebook and Twitter.

Members of the cast of Community introduced Malcolm Dunlop, EVP programming. Dunlop highlighted the new programs, touting the acquisition of what many believe will be the new season’s breakout hit, The Event. With Lost and 24 now off the schedule, The Event is indeed the most promising in the genre. Rogers has picked up Fringe (formerly on A), which should do well on Thursday. The Whole Truth is another new drama scheduled on Wednesday at 10 p.m., starring Rob Morrow, which received a positive reaction from the audience.

The hour-long show came to a close with Dunlop announcing that the real ‘event’ is the after-party at Hard Rock Cafe. Upon leaving the theatre, the humidity of the morning had become a downpour. I did, however, venture over for a quick visit and a glass of wine before heading back uptown.

It was a good day and a positive one for the industry. Rogers is definitely a strong contender in this marketplace, which is good news for everyone.

Valerie McMorran is the senior vice president of investment at Starcom MediaVest Group in Canada.

Related stories: Canwest upfronts: A gleeful launch, by Valerie McMorran