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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Rogers, Scotiabank's 6-yr NHL deal; also include new TV shows, digital products

TORONTO - Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B) has signed Scotiabank as its first major NHL sponsor since acquiring exclusive multimedia rights to National Hockey League games beginning this fall.

Neither company would disclose how much money will change hands under the six-year deal but a Rogers executive said it would be in the millions of dollars.

Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) will get sponsorship rights to Sunday night and Wednesday night TV broadcasts that will be carried by either Rogers Sportsnet or its City television stations.

The deal also anticipates Scotiabank will be able to reach customers and other members of the public through network-connected computers, tablets and smartphones — the "second screen" that sports fans use while watching live events.

"There's a whole series of second-screen opportunities that this deal brings to the table," said John Doig, Scotiabank's chief marketing officer.

However, Scotiabank will also use conventional television to talk about its community hockey programs during the Hockey Night In Canada shows on Saturdays, which will remain on CBC Television for a number of years but will be under Rogers management starting with the next hockey season.

The bank will also sponsor Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey on Rogers Sportsnet and Sunday Night Hockey on City, another Rogers business, and be a sponsor during the NHL playoffs and Stanley Cup finals.

Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL Properties at Rogers, agreed that the Scotiabank deal will help fund research into a new range of ways to reach sports fans but said television will remain the best way to reach a mass audience.

"We all want to find new and innovative ways to reach our consumer but, don't forget, the biggest television events are the best marketing opportunities. That gets proven every Saturday night on Hockey Night In Canada," Moore said.

The Rogers deal with the NHL was considered ground-breaking when it was announced in November, in part because it moved Hockey Night In Canada — a fixture through much of the league's history — out of the control of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and also because of the amount that Rogers was willing to pay for the 12-year deal — $5.2 billion.

Rogers has said previously that it expects to be able to combine its strengths in cable television, wireless networks and media production to tap new sources of revenue.

Earlier this week, the rival BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) telecommunications and media group announced a three-year sponsorship agreement between its TSN sports channels and Canadian Tire Corp. (TSX:CTC.A), another major advertiser. A Canadian Tire executive said it had also invited Rogers to propose new ways to reach its customers and that talks were ongoing.

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