Full Press Releases
Cineflix Appoints Leading Media Executive Stephen Tapp as CEO Cineflix Rights
Cineflix, a leading international producer and distributor of factual programming, today announced the appointment of media industry veteran Stephen Tapp as CEO of Cineflix Rights. Tapp, who will be responsible for creating and managing growth strategy for the company’s exploitation of its intellectual property globally, will be based in the Cineflix Toronto office.
Tapp comes to Cineflix from the position of CEO at Hercules Media Group, a company providing investment, startup and growth strategies for media companies, including digital television, broadband and wireless media. Previously, Tapp was President and Chief Operating Officer at XM Satellite Radio Canada, where he was responsible for launching and operating Canada’s first satellite radio network.
“I have been fortunate to be part of launching and building a number of great media companies and was attracted to Cineflix because it has all the ingredients to be a huge success,” said Tapp. I fully believe in the company’s new direction as a global force in content creation and distribution. The timing is right for me, as it is for Cineflix, and I’m excited to be a part of this industry- leading team.” Tapp’s background in multi-platform media and distribution is extensive. He spent over 8 years in senior leadership roles at broadcaster Chum Limited (later purchased by CTV Globe Media). As Vice President and General Manager of ChumCity International, he built the multiplatform distribution division from the ground up into a worldwide distribution, channel partnership and format licensing business, overseeing key partnership agreements worldwide. Promoted to Exec VP of CHUM Television, he was responsible for overseeing all of CHUM’s television stations including cable, broadcast, digital/interactive and international divisions. Tapp also managed award-winning Citytv, Canada’s largest and most progressive independent local television station.
Glen Salzman, CEO of Cineflix comments: “Stephen’s experience in all facets of broadcasting, distribution and new technology, in addition to his strong entrepreneurial spirit, make him a great hire for Cineflix. He is the right person to maximize the value of Cineflix’s content worldwide, across traditional and new platforms. We are delighted to have Stephen join our team as we continue on a fast track to significant growth.”
Cineflix is an international group of companies that produces, acquires and distributes original, nonfiction multi-genre television programming. Currently involved in the creation of 250 hours per year of innovative TV for international broadcasters, and with a rapidly expanding library of over 1000 hours, Cineflix is a recognized leader in the industry with offices in Montreal, Toronto, London, Dublin and New York.
Media Industry Veterans Launch Bent, an Innovative Branded Entertainment Company!
TORONTO, June 10, 2013 /CNW/ - BENT, a Branded Entertainment Company, launched today with a mission to be a leader in the rapidly growing, brand driven, entertainment and content sector. The partners are industry innovators from the media, production and creative community.
The founding partners are; Cue Digital Media, A Global Sports and Entertainment Company founded by digital media pioneer David U.K., Alibi Entertainment, a leading cross media production company helmed by advertising industry executive Christopher Grimston, acclaimed writer, director and producer, James Hyslop and media startup veteran Stephen Tapp from Hercules Media Group, previously Head of Chum Television and XM Satellite Radio. The new company will represent the best of the four disciplines that are required to build brand value in today's ever fragmented media environment - MEDIA, CREATIVE, PRODUCTION and DISTRIBUTION, representing a new avenue for brand advocates and advertisers seeking to engage audiences in meaningful and unique ways.
"Bent, is the right partnership at the right time with a pedigree and passion for weaving and leveraging brands into entertaining stories, on all video-based platforms" says BENT partner Stephen Tapp. “We understand the journey for brands looking to impact audiences in this highly competitive video landscape. With the right story and the best targeted media we can help our agencies and brand partners to build immersive and powerful relationships with their audiences in addition to developing unique strategies to monetize their efforts.”
Housed in Toronto, the new company will leverage the resources from each of its three partners. Cue's leading global award winning history in developing Branded Entertainment and its massive national distribution network, Alibi's creative and production expertise and Tapp's deep relationships on all media platforms. The company is uniquely positioned to be agile and efficient in serving the needs of brands across TV, online display, mobile, tablet, video and social channels.
About Cue Digital Media (www.cuedigitalmedia.com)
Cue Digital Media is one of Canada's largest online Sports and Entertainment Media companies selling online integrated advertising opportunities, branded entertainment, sponsorships and partnerships to major agencies and Fortune 100 brands.
Cue exclusively represents select, established, premium online sports and entertainment properties in Canada reaching 22 Million Unique Visitors and 6.2 Million Canadian Males 18-49* Cue has made "The List," as one of the hottest digital companies and recently named one of Canada's Most Promising New Digital Companies at the Digi Awards in 2011 and 2012.
Cue is ranked in the Top 20 Canadian Digital Media Companies according to *ComScore May 2013
About Alibi Entertainment and Section 8 (www.alibientertainment.ca)
Alibi Entertainment develops and produces documentary, docu-drama, drama, lifestyle and branded content programming. Alibi is part of Section Eight, the holding company for seven of Canada's preeminent production and post companies (Sons and Daughters, Panic & Bob, Posterboy, Notch, Axyz, Crush, Lollipop). Combined with partner company Pirate Audio, the group has developed a critical mass of top creative, production and post resources.
About Hercules Media Group Inc. (www.herculesmediagroup.com)
Created in 2007 by accomplished media industry veteran Stephen Tapp, Hercules Media Group provides strategic advisory services and investment in digital television, international content distribution, broadband, mobile media and marketing communications. HMG partners with and advises companies on startup and growth strategies. The company has investments in several companies in the digital media, production and marketing space.
Empirical rebrands as Mash Media
December 21, 2010 by Katie Bailey
Following the signing of media veteran Stephen Tapp as agency CEO this summer, Toronto-based marketing agency Empirical has been rebranded as Mash Media. The agency will move forward with a focus on new-media executions – such as location-based marketing and social media – integrated with traditional marketing tactics in the cross-platform space. Tapp will helm the agency under its new moniker, adding marketing to his long list of career accomplishments, which include president and COO of XM Satellite Radio Canada and EVP TV at CHUM.
The agency has beefed up its measurement, analytic and mobile partnerships, as well as adding mobile and video production talent to its staff and training its account execs to be specialists in multi-platform marketing, Tapp tells MiC. In addition to its work with clients such as Ford, Teva-Novopharm and Rogers, the agency will be looking to expand its client base in ‘retail, customer-focused and dealer-based businesses,’ he explains. ‘We believe that there is a huge opportunity in providing strategic and ROI-focused integrated solutions for our clients. There is tremendous ‘brand fear’ prevailing today. Brands that know they need to be in the social game and fear that they will be left behind. The progressive ones are realizing that it’s a different world with so much more in it if you get it right.
When asked what the most exciting opportunities for marketers today are compared to when he started working in media, Tapp says technology-enabled value-add for the consumer, the new world of content publishing and the empowered consumer top the list. ‘The old windows for content and the ‘orderly marketplace’ for rights syndication has changed from single or dual platforms of distribution to fully accessible, 24/7, wherever-you-are channels for both the distributor and the consumer. I’m really excited to see how fast publishers and distributors are getting it. I’m also excited by the world of online and mobile video; this year feels like it’s the year.
Going For Broke: The Globe & Mail
In a corner of the office Jeffrey Elliott and Raja Khanna share at GlassBox Television sits the one thing on which they just can't agree: a set of aging, brown corduroy couches. The two entrepreneurs, who teamed up this summer as co-CEOs of the upstart broadcasting company, are in sync on the big issues - how the TV business is in a profound state of flux as broadcasters either embrace or fortify themselves against the Internet; how teenagers who've abandoned TV for the Web can be lured back with the right content; and how, in the wake of massive industry consolidation, a small, independent channel can still wedge itself in among the networks. But the couches are a sticking point. Khanna wants them gone; Elliott loves them like a Labrador retriever.
Read Full Article
Let's Hear It For the boys
You've got male! Here--in no particular order --are some of the loveable lotharios, chivalrous mensches and intellectual linebackers that make the city spin and shrill. Last Saturday, we published my list of ladies in our third quasi-annual, totally unscientific edition of the Worthy 30 (you can find that list at PostedToronto.com). Fun! Today, we bring you the gents.
The list is based on my social gallops around town and recommendations from friends and frenemies alike. To be eligible, one needed a modicum of attractiveness, some discernment, accomplishment and that unpindownable thing we call It. Some of these fellas are more famous than others. Others are more available than some (to qualify, they couldn't be married, engaged or shacked up!). So, time now to enjoy this Hummer-size variety of manly marvels.
ZARK FATAH Age "Lucky 33." Sign "100% Leo." Gig Owner of Atelier and Century Room nightclubs, Blowfish and Doku 15 restaurants and the Hammam spa. Why he's worthy From his Cesare Paciotti shoes to his Cartier bling, Fatah is impeccably dressed. And, as is the case with impeccably dressed single men, this clubland kingpin attracts his fair share of attention.
"I'm usually accompanied by a few of the city's finest," he says of his many nights on the town. Fun fact Used to be a go-go dancer. Quotable "All these years I've remained single and haven't settled down just yet ... [but] when I do finally meet the right woman, I'll be able to offer her everything and anything that her heart may desire."
SALVATORE MELE Age 31. Sign Capricorn, but "I believe more in the elements -- water, fire, air, earth." Gig Runs Capocaccia Trattoria at Yonge and Balmoral. Why he's worthy This Italian entrepreneur is committed but, for right now, only to his restaurant. In fact, he's been known to tell interested lady patrons that his constantly-at-over-capacity trattoria is his girlfriend. He's also a family man, partnering with both his sisters throughout his career as a restaurateur.
Fun fact A dead-ringer for Italian soccer player Alberto Gilardino. Quotable Describing his ideal mate, Mele prefers intelligence and looks: "Smart, because when you're smart you know how to be funny. And definitely good-looking -- money you can always find a way to make."
ADAM GIAMBRONE Age 30. Sign Pisces. Gig City Councillor, TTC chair. Why he's worthy Giambrone's fresh face is one of the most visible of all the councillors in the community, and he's known to step up to the microphone in good times and bad. Though he's long been the youngest city councillor in town, he's also one of the most worldly. Giambrone was president of the federal NDP party even before setting up in City Hall, and stays involved with his previous career as an archaeologist by scheduling exotic digs in his spare time. Fun fact Fluent in Arabic. Quotable "I don't know how Shinan thought to put me on this list ... maybe he did a Google search."
DAVID RITCHIE Age 31. Sign Pisces, who deep down believes in it. "I think it makes fascinating conversation." Gig Talent agent. Why he's worthy Ritchie, at his relatively young age, already owns a talent agency called Ambition. And ambition describes him to a T. Only a year ago, the agency started with three agents and a sense of drive, but it's already well on its way to becoming one of the fastest-rising talent agencies in Canada. Ritchie says its success comes from his experiences in Los Angeles, learning how to be persistent and play the game. Fun fact "I wear a lot of pink shirts." Quotable "I've been told that I look both like Steve Buscemi and Jude Law. The Steve Buscemi thing is a running joke, but if a girl tells me I look like Jude Law, I immediately hug them and kiss them and ask them to marry me."
DAN LEVY Age 24. Sign Leo. Gig MTV Canada host. Why he's worthy The son of Canadian comedy pioneer Eugene Levy is as lovable and goofy as his dad, but also wears skinny jeans. Add in that sharp wit and a pair of trademark Clark Kent-ish specs, and viewers often refuse to believe he's single: Internet rumours swirl over his romantic status with MTV Live co-host Jessi Cruickshank! Fun fact "I am an avid karaoke enthusiast and am pretty good at foreign accents." Quotable Why is he among the Worthy 30? A modest Levy responds, "Perhaps the big fat cheque I mailed to Shinan earlier this week?"
STEPHEN TAPP Age 46. Sign Taurus. "Horoscopes? I think they're a gas." Gig CEO of Hercules Media Group. Why he's worthy Tapp has been involved in pretty much every successful media organization in the city. The man has a long history in the business, having worked at Citytv, TSN and XMRadio. But three months ago, Tapp decided it was time to put his experience to the test and take things into his own hands, founding a new media company. Tapp is a start-up specialist, so in the early stages of Hercules Media Group he's in his element and excited. Tapp's worthiness is also due to his wicked sense of style, modeled on the classy look of the Rat Pack. Fun fact His dad was the voice in the cartoon series Hercules, hence the name of his company.
Quotable [Laughing] "I am the son of Hercules, so I now have to assume the ring."
RUSSELL PETERS Age 36. Sign Libra. "Horoscopes are like a really bad palm reading. 'You are going to get in a car.' Oh my god, I'm going to get in a CAR?" Gig Comedian, actor. Why he's worthy Everyone agrees that a sense of humour is one of the most attractive things a person can offer, and since Peters has had people splitting their sides all over the globe, he's a no-brainer for this list. Peters' quirky comedy is based on serious social commentary, making him a prime example of intelligence and humour being one and the same. Fun fact He's a terrific shopping companion, never leaving a store without a fun purchase in hand, or on hand -- he recently bought a watch for more than $20,000. Quotable "I'm pretty normal, actually. It's actually frightening to most people how normal I am."
BEN PETERSON Age 29. Sign Virgo, but "I'm not superstitious." Gig Cofounder and executive director of Journalists for Human Rights. Why he's worthy The son of former premier David Peterson is a consummate humanitarian, helping set up networks of journalists in African countries and developing capacities for human rights journalism. But despite his executive position, Peterson often travels to countries in Africa where JHR is helping out, to find out if the work the organization is doing actually jives with the local experience. He also reaches out to young people at JHR university chapters, in efforts to get other passionate people involved. Fun fact Juggles!
Quotable "What led me into this was a belief that more work needs to be done for improving human rights for the world's least fortunate people."
GARETH SELTZER Age 45. Sign Aquarius. Gig Real estate investor. Why he's worthy Seltzer is a successful man who is passionate about his life. He can wax poetic on the Annex as an urban environment ("It's a pedestrian community, and I believe that's the way Toronto is going. Rosedale just doesn't have that"), the histories of old homes ("It's so amazing to reach into the walls and find newspapers or letters from 100 years ago") or the philosophy that takes him from one job to another ("Life is full of great challenges. You have to have a great sense of humour to persevere"). This attitude has won him quite the reputation, and he's actually sold homes to people like Adrienne Clarkson. Fun fact Worked as a magician. Quotable "You know what? Life is excellent."
TIM ROZON Age 31. Sign Gemini. Gig Actor, restaurateur. Why he's worthy He currently stars in the CTV show Instant Star and, moreinterestingly, looks like a young Ray Liotta-in-his-prime. Rozon jets back and forth to Montreal, where he is a part-owner of the yuppster bistro, Garde-Manger. Fun fact "I'm one of those Elvis fans. You know the ones ?" Quotable "I learned you can't choose love. Love chooses you."
JONATHAN GARFINKEL Age 34. Sign Leo. Gig "I write books, plays and poetry. I also ride bicycles for very long distances in order to forget about what I write." Why he's worthy Despite that thick, flowing hair, Garfinkel's allure is inside his head: He's a misty, artistic type with a knack for self-exploration. Fun fact Owns a stuffed turtle named Jacob, given to him by his father when he was but one year old. Quotable "Once I was confused with Johnny Depp. Another time a woman in Saskatchewan said that I resembled a young Angelica Huston. I didn't know what to say."
IRA HOPMEYER Age 49. Sign Aries. "I like what I read about Aries and I think that a ram is a strong, proud and sincere animal." Gig Chairman & CEO of Ritchies Inc. Why he's worthy A purveyor of fine art and furniture pieces, Hopmeyer not only knows the finer things in life, he can also talk about them really, really fast. Fun fact He's a third-generation auctioneer. Quotable On often being mistaken for a celebrity: "I guess that I have a familiar look."
PETER FREED Age 38. Sign Pisces. Gig Real estate developer/entrepreneur. Why he's worthy He's an of the-moment developer who's drastically improved the King West area -- not only with his livable condos but also with that handsome grin! Fun fact "I was adopted and my parents paid $8 for me when they picked me up at the hospital." Quotable On why Shinan put him on this list: "To get discounts at my future Thomson Toronto Hotel."
ANTON POTVIN Age 35. Sign Virgo. Gig Sommelier and owner of the Niagara Street Cafe. Why he's worthy Is there anything more attractive than a man who can appreciate a good vintage? No, really, is there? Fun fact During his adolescence, Potvin was often mistaken for Andrew Ridgeley, the other guy in WHAM! Quotable "Money doesn't mean as much to me as it probably should -- don't tell my accountant! -- I'msomewhat of a hedonist."
CAMERON HEAPS Age 32. Sign Libra. Gig Co-founder and operator of Steam Whistle Brewing, making "premium pilsner that is sold in Ontario and Alberta, with hopes of expanding across the country." Why he's worthy This beer-swilling hot stuff loves his brewskis, but not the accompanying gut. He's an outdoor enthusiast. Fun fact "I make an annual pilgrimage to Panama for surfing." Quotable Single, successful, handsome and, get this, is not scared of children! "I love kids. I really enjoy being an uncle to my nieces and nephew."
MATT DUSK Age 28. Sign Scorpio. "Scorpios are supposed to be powerful and sexual ... I plead the fifth." Gig "Male Crooner Extraordinaire." Why he's worthy Picture Dusk at the back of a jazz club wearing a pinstriped suit with stubble on his chin, crooning into the dark and smoky abyss. In other words, he's an oldskool jazz cat in the body of a eye-catching 28-year-old. Fun fact "I'm a kick-ass five-pin bowler ... watch out!" Quotable "Work hard, play harder. What's the point of sluggin' it out if you can't share your success with others?"
ADAM BRAZ Age 26. Sign Gemini. Gig Plays defence for Toronto FC -- the city's pro-soccer team. Why he's worthy This ex-pat Montrealer is a hard-working footballer who fast became a fan favourite in Toronto--and not only among the female fans. Fun fact On the dance floor, he's a different kind of baller: Braz is known for his Justin Timberlakeesque moves. Quotable "I like to shop--I know the cool places to go. It all stems from my Montreal background because clearly people there have a sense of style."
MIKE MYERS Age 44. Sign Gemini. Gig Played Wayne Campbell in the 1992 film Wayne's World. Also appeared in the sequel, Wayne's World 2. Why he's worthy It is we who are not worthy! Everyone knows Myers is mega-famous, world-renowned for his funny Scottish accents, and styles his hair with a middle part. But did you know he's recently divorced and also currently in town? Fun fact His role in Shrek was originally intended for his late SNL pal Chris Farley.Quotable "Groovy baby! Yeah!"
SHAWN ASHMORE AND AARON ASHMORE Age Both are 27. Sign Both are Libra. Gig Both are actors. Why they're worthy If you're wondering why the Ashmore hunks are the same age, share the same astrological sign and are both successful actors, it's because they're identical twins, duh! Shawn veers toward the big screen, with his recurring role in X-Men, while Aaron seems to prefer television, starring in the Superman series Smallville. Fun fact Both brothers have the letters G-MA tattooed on their wrists. It apparently stands for Good Man Ashmore. Quotable They're not the Doublemint twins, they don't speak in unison!
ZOLTAN SZABO Age 37. Sign Aquarius. Gig "I am a sommelier, wine consultant, educator and journalist." Why he's worthy He describes his life as drinking fine wines, eating luscious foods and travelling a lot. What's not to love about that? Quotable "I am smart, extremely sexy, highly elegant and very modest."
AHREN CADIEUX Age 32. Sign Aries. Gig Professional beach volleyball player on Canada's national team; currently attempting to qualify for Beijing with partner Mark Heese. Why he's worthy He's 6-foot-4 and his abs can double as a washboard. Fun fact "I am really good at folding clothes and I eat most of my meals standing up." Quotable "I'm a very passionate person, living my dream touring the world as a professional athlete."
MICHAEL CERA Age 19. Sign Gemini. Gig An of-the-moment, Brampton-based actor. Why he's worthy A pleasure to watch, Cera delighted as the less-than-comfortable George Michael on the now-defunct show Arrested Development, and continued the irresistible awkward teenager role in this summer's must-see teen comedy Superbad. Fun fact He's actually said to be dating one of the actresses from Knocked Up. But, seriously, can you be a 19-year-old actor and really be off-the-market? Quotable Cera told the National Post in 2006: "All the talk you hear about girls throwing themselves at you once you get a show: It's not true."
SEAMUS O'REGAN Age 36. Sign "I'm a goat. In a pinch, we provide the cheese." Gig Co-host of Canada AM. Why he's worthy The guy gets up at 4 a.m. every morning to tape Canada's wake-up show and still manages to look that gorgeous in front of the cameras? It's almost inhumane. Fun fact This is his record breaking third time on the Worthy 30! Quotable "In New York, I got stopped as 'that guy from Lord of the Rings.' I'd like to think it was for Viggo Mortensen or Orlando Bloom, but I think it was for Elijah Wood or Sean Astin."
JACK RABINOVITCH Age 77. Gig Founder of the richest literary award in Canada, the Giller Prize. Why he's worthy His is a very big heart. Besides his (long) lasting impact on Canadian literary arts, Rabinovitch is responsible for the construction of the Princess Margaret Hospital and countless other contributions to the city. Fun fact Doesn't really like Starbucks coffee. Quotable In '02, he dropped some hints to the National Post as to where he can be found: "The bar I favour the most, because it's the closest to the Ritz in Montreal that I can find, is the bar at the Four Seasons."
PHIL DOWNE Age 52. Sign Pisces, but "couldn't care less." Gig President, Relations Management Group. Why he's worthy He was among the Worthy 30 last year, and evidently not much has changed: "Still very much into the wines and, of course, the ladies," he quips. The perennial Yorkville bachelor is also an adventure nut -- race-car driving and scuba diving are two examples we can mention here. Fun fact Considers himself one of Marilyn Monroe's all-time biggest fans. Quotable "Dating in Yorkville is a little like driving on the racetrack. ... There's lots of competition, but winning is as much about finesse as aggression and too much aggression will put you into the wall."
BRIAN MELO Age 25. Sign Leo. "I think it is very interesting and definitely possible that astrology can predict our future ... but really, who knows?" Gig Canada's new Idol. Why he's worthy It's onwards and upwards for this recently crowned Canadian Idol. He was a construction worker from Steeltown, and now is on his way to becoming the next Kalan Porter! Fun fact He loves to play golf and is a huge Chicago Bears fan. Quotable "Now I know I can do anything I set my mind to," says Melo after his Idol accomplishments.
PAUL ALEXANDER Age "41 going on 18." Sign "Triple Sagittarius --highly recommended! Gig Photographer/ director. Why he's worthy A gutsy celebrity photographer with a stylish, European je ne sais quoi. Alexander trotted the globe taking pictures of the likes of Tony Bennett, Shalom Harlow and Beyonce. Fun fact Calls himself a professional hammock sleeper. "It's not as easy as it looks, especially the entry and dismount!" Quotable One bachelor who likes 'em rich, because when you have money, "you can always dress nice."
ANDREW STETSON Age 28. Sign Virgo. Gig Model. Why he's worthy Of course he's worthy, he's a perfect specimen of the male gender! Originally from a sleepy little place called Oakville (and discovered in a bar!), Stetson rose to the top of the fashion heap, appearing in ad campaigns for Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Zara, Calvin Klein and others. Fun fact As well as pouting for the cameras, Stetson also runs a carpentry business, Stetson Designs Inc. Quotable On modelling and carpentry: "I worked right away, doing editorial and catalogues in New York, Paris and Milan. But I really missed carpentry. I missed building things."
ANDREW COYNE Age 46. Gig National affairs columnist for the Post. Why he's worthy He writes intelligent, lucid and thought-provoking columns that politicos and other nerds love to read. Some of his favourite political topics -- like the so-called fiscal imbalance -- are beyond the intellectual reach of even our current prime minister! But there's another side to this Coyne:He's sociable, even courtly and devilishly handsome. Fun fact He's notoriously late for engagements. Quotable See our editorial section!
Satellite wars: Sirius vs. XM
While satellite radio companies continue to lose money, Canada's two providers are feeling a little chuffed as they approach their second Christmas selling season and, Dec. 1, their first anniversaries. Instead of fighting regulatory appeals from sore losers and Canadian-content proponents ? who are still upset that the two satellite services offer only 10% homegrown content as opposed to the 35% traditional radio must have ? Sirius Canada Inc. and XM Canada can get down to the business of battling each other for subscribers. It's a clash that is being simultaneously fought on three fronts: signing equipment deals with the automakers, getting retailers onboard and trying to convince consumers that paying up to $15 a month for something they've always received for free is a good deal. The early winner? Well, it's not XM, even though it has charged $2 less per month, offers the better selection of special receivers needed to pick up satellite signals and signed exclusive deals with the top three automobile sellers in the country ? GM, Toyota and Honda. Instead, it's Sirius claiming victory, with more than 65% retail market share. That translates into roughly 200,000 paying listeners, given that XM had 120,000 subscribers as of Aug. 31. While those numbers might sound a little underwhelming, they are well ahead of projections for both companies ? and on track for the four million subscribers the industry believes can be signed up by 2010. That leaves plenty of time for XM to catch up.
On the surface, there seems to be little to choose from between the two services. They cost the same now, as XM raised its monthly fee for new subscribers to $14.99 on Sept. 1. They both offer 100 channels or more. And they both have similar hardware to pick up satellite feeds. Behind the front lines, it's a different story. On one side, XM Canada is owned by a publicly traded company, Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. (TSX: XSR), led by John Bitove, a flashy exec with a family history in the food business and a high-profile resumé that includes KFC, real estate and a failed bid for the Olympics. On the other side of the dial, Sirius Canada is a private company with three owners: Standard Broadcasting Corp., CBC and Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. Its top exec is Mark Redmond. Never heard of him? That's OK. He's not much of a spotlight hog. Although he spent 18 years at global electronics giant Thomson, in a variety of roles ? and it was two of his former colleagues who suggested he join Sirius ? there's little in Redmond's background to suggest the kind of entrepreneurial flair needed to get a media startup off the ground. But he's done it.
True to form, Redmond isn't taking credit for his company's quicker start. “The content is what separates us from our competitor and separates us from most of the competitive platforms, products or services,” says Redmond. “What's really exciting is that we have 110 channels. What's really daunting is that we have 110 channels.” Redmond says he's only recently been able to come up for air, having been parachuted into Sirius Canada a month after the CRTC issued its final approval for both services. With just a few months spent learning the satellite radio game at Sirius in the United States, Redmond had his work cut out for him. “I've never been a media guy,” he admits. “But I love the challenge of looking at new products and technologies and figuring out how the average consumer will understand it, make it work, and how we should take it to market.”
As an industry neophyte, Redmond quickly figured out that while traditional radio is a direct competitor to satellite radio, there are many others: the iPod and similar MP3 devices, the Internet, digital TV, even cellphones come with music capabilities. But the competition is even broader than that. “Any place you can get entertainment is technically competition,” says Redmond. But if satellite radio has one saving grace, it's that there is something for everyone. Want politically incorrect humour? Sirius has Howard Stern; XM has Jeff (Jean-François) Fillion. Looking for feminine inspiration? Tune into Oprah & Friends on XM or Martha Stewart Living on Sirius. Both services broadcast a variety of music, talk and sports shows as well. Indeed, the beauty of satellite radio is that listeners can get what they want, and they can now hear it anywhere, anytime, with sophisticated new portable devices (see sidebar). “If I can give you 110 channels of great content and it'll cost you less than the price of a Tim Hortons coffee a day, you're going to be pretty satisfied,” says Redmond. “And it's our job to get out there and convince the masses that the service is that compelling.” That's required tough hand-to-hand combat for retail customers, with both companies spending millions on marketing. During the summer, Sirius criss-crossed the country in trucks equipped with individual listening stations. On the retail side, Sirius set up live feeds in thousands of stores to ensure consumers could check out the service, employs three full-time product trainers and hired a third-party marketer to do in-store merchandising and staff training. And that's likely just the beginning. “I don't foresee us in the next three years laying off any of that stuff,” says Redmond. “If anything, we're going to be stepping it up, where we're trying to educate on the category and business in total, but clearly making sure they understand the benefits of Sirius.” Sirius's retail efforts have evidently paid off, but the battle for automobile subscribers is just beginning. “Where we get the majority of subscribers from retail today, that's going to shift and advantage XM,” says radio veteran Stephen Tapp, XM Canada's president and CEO. “We're going to have 60% of the autos sold in this country under exclusive licence. It's a much easier conversion to sale when you've got it in your car and you're on a free trial.” While XM has the Top 3 auto sellers in Canada, Sirius has Ford, Chrysler and BMW. In fact, most car companies have signed exclusively with one side or the other ? except for Subaru, which deals with both.
Unfortunately, auto subscriber sales haven't helped the U.S. satellite radio players. Both Sirius Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) and XM Satellite Radio Holdings (Nasdaq: XMSR) have burned billions in the past five years. In its first nine months of operation, XM Canada, through its parent Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings, reported revenues of $3.5 million, with $3.2 million coming from subscription sales, but a net loss of roughly $79 million. Those figures reflect the startup nature of satellite radio in Canada, and marketing costs alone ate up $20.2 million during that period. As a private company, Sirius Canada doesn't divulge its numbers, but Redmond admits it's been a costly exercise to this point, even though his company has had to use fewer “repeater” towers because the satellite it uses covers Canada better than XM's does. “Unfortunately, our business requires a lot of capital upfront, and there's no hiding that,” says Redmond. “We're spending a lot to get customers.”
Expect both companies to spend even more this Christmas. Most consumers have been exposed to satellite radio's message, and retailers are better educated, so this could be make-it-or-break-it time. If sales don't come through, don't expect either Sirius or XM to fade away. Instead, look for them to explore other platforms ? such as Telus Mobile Radio, which offers 20 radio channels in a revenue-sharing agreement with XM ? or develop some of the sideline capabilities that are possible with satellite radio equipment. For example: back-seat video feeds for cars, or front-seat data functions such as telematics, including automatic collision notification. These services are possible because each radio has an individual serial number, which is how Sirius or XM activate them. The tough part is getting the device integrated into the car's electronics. “Once we're in that deep, we have the ability to add more services in the future,” says Redmond. Getting that deep into the auto consumer's mind might just be the tougher proposition.
The channel that never sleeps
While on a shoot in the streets of Toronto, Citytv’s David Johnson remembers an excited fan leaning outhis car window and shouting: ‘Everywhere!’
Brilliant in its brevity, the one-word tagline that has so penetrated the psyche of Torontonians speaks volumes about the localism, accessibility and street-wise character of the Toronto-centric station whose very name is the brand: Citytv.
Like all powerful brands, it took years to build the station’s strong core personality, and like all powerful brands, to tinker with that would undo years of work. But since the station launched in 1972, the city has matured, and City’s image has matured with it.
In a process that started two years ago, Citytv is refreshing its look and adding a new slogan. ‘Everywhere!’ is staying; but the next guy hanging out of a window may well be shouting: ‘Where Else?’ This is not only an extension of the original slogan, but of the whole branding image that Susan Arthur, Chum Television’s director of marketing dubs, ‘the unconventional conventional.’
Stephen Tapp, City’s VP and general manager, explains the station’s branding success stems from its origins. After all, Citytv was licensed as a Toronto station, so it had to get community-focused. Also, ‘City started off financially modest, which forces creativity,’ he says. This spawned innovations like videography and low-budget people programs, like Speakers Corner.
Instead of producing from ‘closed, concrete studios,’ Johnson says IDs and programming are produced on the street. Cameras catch people buying fruit at Kensington Market or strolling at the Beaches, giving the branding package both a sense of place and a casual air. ‘It’s not that we don’t think outside creative isn’t useful, but we have such a distinct personality, an image from ground up. You have to be able to live it, portray it and sell it,’ says Tapp. Changes to the expression of that brand have been few and considered, but sometimes change is necessary.
For instance, when City spun off MuchMusic, the station dropped ‘Music’ from the long-standing tagline: ‘NewsMoviesMusic.’ Then, last year, City started LivingCity, a weekly news special on CityPulse at Six, to reinforce the channel’s connection with the community. Trying to make Toronto a better place to live, The LivingCity Task Force teams up with local events and charities to collect used clothing for the homeless at a SkyDome event, or plant trees for Earth Day Canada’s Tree Planting Festival.
The very newest visual changes are the two-second visual ID tags on the ends of promos that reflect the persona of the channel and program content. Around movies, for instance, viewers may catch a swarm of paparazzi with flashbulbs going off that reveal the Citytv logo. Around CityLine, a paint roller reveals the logo.
Finally, for the last six months, City has run CityPulse Moments, 15-second flashbacks of momentous news events previously captured by CityPulse. The promos aren’t anything like the slick ‘overproduced’ interstitials you see on other networks. ‘We let the whole thing play,’ says Tapp, ‘We let it breathe.’ In fact, this approach might sum up City’s branding philosophy as a whole: ‘There’s no better way to brand yourself than using yourself.’ As a result of its continuing branding success, Tapp says the maverick channel is maintaining its older audience, while still skewing younger.
For instance, at 18.3%, CityPulse at Six has the highest concentration of adults ages 25 to 34 of any newscast originating in Toronto. The next highest is Global at 10.5%. And while the advent of specialty channels is eroding the viewership of conventionals, Citytv has still been able to push through, and even grow. For example, according to Nielsen Media Research, among adults ages 25 to 54, Citytv’s fall 2001 audience increased 7% over the previous fall, while all other Ontario stations decreased.
XM satellite radio on break-even orbit
Stephen Tapp is the president and chief operating officer XM Canada [Satellite Radio].
Q How many hours do you work per week?
A As my former boss Moses [Znaimer] said about Citytv, it's 24-7-365-forever! Same with XM!
Q How often do you take work home?
A We are in the entertainment business, so it's the lifestyle -- whether you're taking it home or to the streets it's a full-time, loving commitment.
Q How do you spend most of that time?
A I manage both the inside and the outside of the business. The inside involves dealing with the staff, the structure, the programming and the pricing. The outside is made up of potential partners in the retail and automotive industries, the government and the street. Our CEO, John Bitove, takes the lead in dealing with the financial community, but I have relationships with media analysts and I spend a lot of time doing public relations and talking to the media. The incredible thing about this job is that I have a 360-degree handle on the business in terms of the number of things I actually touch. My job is a smorgasbord, and it's always fresh. We're very team-based.
Q How many people work for you?
A We're just under 100 people, and it all started in the last eight months. I have half a dozen direct reports-- vice-presidents who live and breathe XM.
Q What do you wear?
A As they say, it's Prada or nada, baby!
Q How much e-mail do you get per day?
A Like everyone these days -- LOTS! We are a BlackBerry culture. I read them all unless they're spam, and I try to respond right away. Otherwise, I find you lose them as fast as you get them.
Q How many phone calls do you get?
A The biggest trick is juggling writing e-mail on the BlackBerry when a call comes in! So my BlackBerry is my phone. I'm moving around all day and never at my desk, so the BlackBerry is the best way to connect. It's another appendage. But I use it so much; I've developed arthritis in my thumbs, even though I'm only 45. Now I'm trying to type with my index fingers. The BlackBerry may be perfect for making quick contact, but I find I get the best results the old-fashioned way, from face-to-face meetings.
Q How often do customers call you directly?
A Rarely. We have an awesome customer-care department. But I want to know what customers are saying, so we get summary reports of call-centre activity and issues.
Q Do you ever turn the BlackBerry off?
A Rarely. The exceptions are lunch with my mom, and when I'm forced to before takeoff.
Q How many meetings do you attend?
A They are too numerous to count. We are a startup. We work things out as a team. Visibility, interconnectivity between teams is key at XM.
Q How often do you travel?
A We're a national service, so I try to travel once a week or so.
Q Are you a workaholic?
A XM is a lifestyle, and a great one at that. Say no more.
Q How much time off do you take? Do you wish you could take more?
A There'll be plenty of time to take off once we hit our subscriber targets and break even! We're working on it!
Q What's the best part of your job?
A I love working in a truly entrepreneurial environment. Everything matters and "can't do it" is not a part of our corporate psyche. I'm inspired every day. We're building something really new, an incredible new entertainment and information platform.
Q What's the most boring/worst part?
A Not getting there yesterday.
Q What's the best perk?
A I love music, so meeting the bands is the best treat. I don't mean that I'm some kind of groupie, but I love getting to know the artists, and I'm proud to be able to give them a platform where their music will be heard across North America.
Q What's your pet peeve?
A Oh, I'm such a relaxed guy -- nothing bugs me.
Q What are your favourite places for lunch?
A I usually have to eat and run -- a good food court is highly underrated. For business lunches, I like to scope the King Street strip. (I try to arrange getting XM installed as background music while I'm there.)
Q Do you have hobbies, sports or a fitness routine?
A I love music and running. They go together nicely.
Q How many boards do you sit on?
A I'm a director of the Broadcast Executive Society. I had to give up everything else when I took this job.
Q Do you have charitable boards or other volunteer work?
A That's the next goal on my list. I admire busy people who can volunteer.
Q What's the last book you read or the one you're hoping to get to?
A I'm a little late, but I finally started The DaVinci Code -- started being the operative word!
Q What's your management philosophy or guiding management principle?
A Take care of your customer and they'll take care of you -- in that order
XM mulls betting the bank
The challenge: Establish a profile in satellite radio to attract subscribersThe call: Ramp up spending to steal market share away from Sirius, without blowing the budget
Important decisions made over breakfast usually involve white toast or brown, decaf or regular. But when XM Canada founder John Bitove Jr. called his chief operating officer Stephen Tapp to a morning meeting at a diner in Toronto last year, there was a bigger choice on the menu for the startup satellite radio company. Around the corner from the restaurant was an old bank vacated by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The spot was ideal for a new business looking to stand out, serving as both an office and a giant billboard at a busy intersection. But the question was not about location, it was about money. Like many startup ventures, the cost of launching a satellite radio operation is disproportionately high in the first few years. From advertising expenses to deep discounts offered on radio receivers, the list of expenses for a new company is long. Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., operator of XM Canada, had to decide whether spending several million dollars to turn the bank into radio studios and offices was worth the cost, particularly as rival Sirius Canada was opting to go without a similar standalone facility to broadcast from.
Read Full Article