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Grammys: Canadian Broadcaster Harnesses Vast Arsenal for Cross-Media Coverage

Robin Thicke
Evan Agostini/Invision/A
Robin Thicke

The more screens, the better, as Rogers Media puts its TV, radio, publishing, online and mobile assets behind coverage of Drake, Robin Thicke and other homegrown stars.

TORONTO – Rogers Media is putting the muscle of its vast TV, radio, publishing and online assets behind its first-time arrival on the red carpet at the 56th Grammy Awards.

The Canadian broadcaster grabbed the Canadian broadcast rights to the music industry's big night away from rival Shaw Media, having convinced the Recording Academy it will go all-out with cross-platform coverage of the Grammys leading up to this Sunday night.

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And the man charged with driving the Grammy cross-pollination is Jordan Schwartz, who headed up rival Bell Media's entertainment group before joining Rogers Media two years ago to bump up its in-house entertainment coverage.

"Music has been part of our DNA, with radio stations, entertainment magazines, fashion magazines -- it does fit us," Schwartz told The Hollywood Reporter.

That has Rogers Media, a division of mobile phone and cable giant Rogers Communications, ready to seize as broad an audience as possible by exploiting the convergence of TV, mobile and social in the Canadian market.

So the Rogers Media team will be on alert for Grammy performers stirring outrage onstage to feed YouTube consumption and social media traffic long after the curtain falls on the awards show. "If something live happens, we want to be able to go with it," Schwartz said.

Until then, every TV channel under the Rogers Media umbrella, including its City conventional network, will talk up the awards show in the lead-up to the Jan. 26 telecast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

City's Grammy coverage started in early December with live reports from Hollywood on its Breakfast Television morning shows countrywide.

That traditional coverage comes on top of a digital hub, Grammys.ca, that knits the TV together with radio, publishing and online assets in Rogers' arsenal, not least to snag an out-of-home audience for the music industry celebration.

"It's been the most revealing and invigorating part of the job coming here, to recognize the assets that this place has," Schwartz insisted. "I know it, because when I was at other networks, we had to fight to get exclusives with Flare and other (Rogers) magazines. When I came in, it was easy. We have world-class brands, and we're using them," he added.

Rogers Media went through a similar exercise when it extended Sportsnet, its cable TV sports channel, across five platforms: TV, radio, print, digital and mobile.

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As with the Grammys coverage, the goal was tearing down silos between traditional and digital platforms and bringing the Sportsnet brand under one umbrella to better engage audiences everywhere.

"It's changing people's mindsets. They're offering content that we would have before had to go outside to get. Now it's built in," Schwartz said of providing one source for Grammys coverage that delivers engaging content to music fans how, when and where they want.

That means showcasing performances and interviews with music artists on City and Rogers' radio stations, and including photo galleries and artist profiles in print magazines and online.

Then this coming weekend, Breakfast Television will be on location, live from Los Angeles, Friday morning, before returning for the morning-after Grammy coverage on Monday, Jan. 27.

And on Sunday, Rogers will present a 90-minute red carpet special on City and Grammys.ca, with Barenaked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson on hand to help interview the stars, including Canadian artists like Drake and Robin Thicke, on their arrival and way into the Staples Center.

"We're going to get the viewer as close to the celebrities as possible, and give extra attention to the Canadian artists, because no one else will do that," Schwartz said.