Rogers sets off on a hockey tour

Dates, locations and sponsors for the tour tied to City's new Sunday-night NHL broadcasts have been announced.

Rogers has announced the details of the “Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour presented by Scotiabank and Dodge,” which will be visiting towns across Canada every weekend this season as part of the new community-focused Rogers Hometown Hockey broadcasts Sunday nights on City.

Starting on Oct. 11 and 12 in London, ON for the Toronto Maple Leafs game against the New York Rangers, the tour will feature meet and greets with NHL alumni, hockey-themed kids activities, skills competitions and ticket and merchandise giveaways. Each town will feature entertainment from local musicians and performers and a market with local cuisine and food vendors. Each night ends with an outdoor viewing party of Hockey Night in Canada and Rogers Hometown Hockey on City.

The tour will visit 25 different communities in all 10 provinces this season. The full schedule can be found at the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour website.

“About 15% of Canadians actually get to go to a hockey game,” Anthony Attard, VP of integrated sports sales at Rogers, tells MiC. “This is an opportunity to bring the game to these communities and celebrate along with us.”

The tour is providing much of the content that will be featured on City’s community-focused Sunday night NHL broadcast – which has now been dubbed Rogers Hometown Hockey – with the pre-game show hosted by Ron MacLean live from the tour stop, cutaways to the event during the broadcast and feature pieces on players past and present with connections to that community. Rogers is also in the process of examining ways in which the tour could be incorporated into Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts.

The tour give more spotlight to the sponsors Rogers has partnered with for its first season as the NHL’s national broadcaster. In addition to Scotiabank, which will continue to strengthen its ties to local hockey, Dodge has signed on as a presenting sponsor of the tour. Both companies will be sponsoring segments during the game, with Dodge’s on-site activations during the tour focusing on its Caravan Kids program, which supports youth hockey programs across the country.

Rogers has also announced that McDonald’s, Samsung and Microsoft’s Xbox brand will be on-site sponsors of the tour. McDonald’s will be sponsoring mini ice rinks hosting kids three-on-three hockey games, Xbox will have stations for playing the new NHL 2015 game and Samsung will have its products embedded throughout the crowd.

In addition to the exposure the brands will receive during cutaways, Attard says the company is also looking into ways that the on-site sponsors may be worked into feature spots during broadcast.

All sponsorship and advertising opportunities for both the tour and the Sunday broadcasts are sold out, although Attard says that small, local on-site sponsorship opportunities may be available in individual towns.

The towns that are part of the tour were chosen by Rogers based on the players on the teams featured in the Sunday game, such as the Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri’s connection to his hometown of London, ON and playing for the city’s London Knights for the first weekend, or Montreal Canadiens’ goalie Carey Price’s connection to the Kelowna, BC area when the tour visits there on Nov. 16 as City broadcasts a Habs game. While this takes out the fan voting element present in events like Kraft Hockeyville, this has allowed the company to craft feature stories that drive home the community element of Canada’s hockey culture.

“Those are the types of stories we are going to uncover, ones with synergies between the game and the community,” Attard says. “You’ll see the reasons why we chose each town during the broadcast.”

While Attard says that Hometown Hockey broadcasts are aimed at the same audience as the rest of Rogers’ NHL coverage, selecting Sunday for a broadcast based around an event targeted at families was done purposefully.

“This is a brand new national night for hockey in Canada, and planning to do something on Sunday was a key part of us winning the rights deal,” he says. “Our ratings show that Sunday is a family viewing night before the school or work week starts. To have this based in a local community every week, it reinforces the family viewing experience.”