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Rogers CEO sees new Ignite TV service as part of a 'connected home' revolution

Last Updated Jul 19, 2018 at 3:20 pm EDT

A Rogers Communications Inc. logo is shown outside the Rogers Building in Toronto on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Rogers Communications Inc. reported a second-quarter profit of $538 million, up from $528 million a year ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

TORONTO – Rogers Communications Inc. expects to ramp up marketing for its new Ignite TV service through the second half of this year as its “connected home” strategy builds momentum, chief executive Joe Natale said Thursday.

“Don’t look at Ignite as sort of a big bang or one-day wonder. It’s really meant to be a rolling campaign that will build over time,” Natale told analysts in a conference call after Rogers announced strong second-quarter results.

Natale said he believes the connected home concept — including voice-activated control of home security, lighting, temperature control and entertainment — represents a shift “similar to the smartphone revolution.”

The company has started a phased “awareness and advertising” campaign for Ignite TV, following a limited roll-out during the second quarter, he said.

Natale said Rogers Cable has a competitive advantage because its entire residential footprint is capable of delivering internet data speeds of one gigabit per second — at the high end of current home technology.

He added that he company wasn’t hurt by recent promotional activity by its main competitor, Bell Canada.

In June, Bell was offering a gigabit-per-second home internet package with unlimited data for $79.95 in parts of Toronto where its fibre-to-the-home service is available.

About the same time, Rogers dropped the monthly cost for its gigabit service for new customers to $79.99 for 12 months, from $152.99, across its full network in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

“I’m not going to get into a sort of details of our marketing strategy. But I would say this to you, that we’re getting success across our footprint,” Natale said.

The number of Rogers internet subscribers grew 23,000 by in the three months ended June 30, the most for a second quarter since 2005, he said.

Natale said the company’s wireless division — which accounts for more than half of overall revenue for Rogers — also did well with seven per cent year-over-year revenue growth.

During the quarter, Rogers says it added 122,000 net new postpaid wireless subscribers, the most for a second quarter in nine years. Postpaid churn for wireless customers declined to 1.01 per cent, the best quarter in nearly a decade.

Net income for the quarter rose two per cent to $538 million or $1.04 per diluted share, up from $528 million or $1.02 per diluted share a year ago.

On an adjusted basis, Rogers earned $1.07 per diluted share — above the analyst estimate of $1.05 per share for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Overall revenue was in line with estimates at $3.76 billion, up from $3.62 billion.

Companies in this story: (TSX:RCI.B, TSX:BCE)