A cost of doing business? Rogers/Bell/Sportsnet/TSN

While I guess collusion would be the wrong word, as I do not think this is in any way Rogers and Bell acting in a secretly cooperative way, I do find it disappointing that both have decided to make the restaurant world a little bit more difficult.  You may have read by now that both conglomerates have decided to charge separately for the two main sports stations, TSN and Sportsnet (plus RDS as well).

Rogers did not quite make a billion dollars last year, as they had in 2015. Cable was actually up for them. Bell’s net earnings were actually in the billions in 2016- with TV  being a growth category for them as well, both in revenues and net earnings. I do not begrudge either in making a profit- it is the reason that we are in business, and I am sure, if I was a shareholder in either company, I would be happy with my dividend returns.  What does get to me however is the letter I received from Bell (no such communication existed at all from Rogers, even though they say they mailed information, even though I get my monthly bill via post and have never missed one…).  The letter read like Trump wrote it, ie, many TV service providers around the world charge like this…many many, the best service providers, I heard that this was so…and that we as licensees have basically been getting away with making money on their backs for years! From our standpoint of course, I would point out that Canada has about the highest rates for internet, cellular, and cable in the world. While our industry is heavily competitive, theirs is basically a monopoly…remember how distressed they were when Verizon announced they were on their way to Canada?!  As a business, they are doing what they think is best for their company, at this time, we will be doing the same.

At present, we pay Rogers about 250/month for our services, and Bell about $80.  This covers cable, satellite, phone, and internet.  When I talked to Rogers this week, they were quite happy to see if they could do better on the cable front, but I would have to agree to a new 2 year contract, before she shared that information?! Turns out, what we have, the business VIP package, is the best available.  So I asked, as my current contract is not up until January 2018, 9 months from the time of their change, how much our cable bill go down- as after all, they are taking away a dozen stations from our agreed upon VIP package….oh, they said, there is no change to my billing…apparently the contracts signed are not two way, or to be adhered to by the conglomerates, or to be lived up to (we also understand that everyone reading this has at some time used many a grawlix to describe their experience. #$@&*!?!!).

The new fees for those two networks, for a restaurant with three tv’s and a capacity of 130 people, will be $270 per month (plus HST) from Bell, $265 per month (plus HST) through Premium Sports acting on Rogers behalf. That is in addition to the contract which is already in place of course…so cable alone would be about $350/mo.

The good thing for us is that we have, in the main, already started that transition.  We stopped showing the Six Nations…haven’t had a Super Bowl party in years…didn’t have the volume up for a Jays playoff game or the World Cup…all made possible by you being diners at our establishment and you being focused on the people you were with plus the conversations being had as opposed to what was happening on screens around the restaurant.  When we were first building The Morrissey, we thought that we would not have tv’s at all and would try to be based upon conversation like an old school pub in the middle of nowhere, or the finest of restaurants… but we succumbed to the North American desire.need (and we were obviously glad we did by the way!!)  So now, we put that original theory to the test as there will be far less exciting things happening on those screens!

We have not decided what we will be doing May 1st.  We do know that we will not be adding to the revenues of Bell or Rogers any more than we do and that as small as we are, and as value driven as we are, that $350/mo for cable is well out of our price range. We understand that this will mean no baseball this summer as those games are primarily on SN. For the diehard Jays fans, we apologize, but I am sure there will be downtown bars and restaurants that will be happy to pay the extravagant fees and show the games! We would prefer to keep our food and beverage pricing reasonable, and if changes come, it will be due to paying staff a living wage, and not adding to the billions generated by Rogers and Bell. Our decision will now be about our transition- ie if we keep on paying for the VIP package or go to a basic cable package.  Bell has already been cancelled, so it will be Rogers that will be our primary carrier, in what form…to be decided!

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