Business

RJR enters subscriber TV market

New online service expected to bolster $300-m upgrade

STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter jacksons@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 29, 2014    

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RJR will launch Internet subscriber TV to bolster its $300-million upgrade.

The media group will use over-the-top (OTT) technology to deliver content rather than a dedicated, managed IPTV network.

In other words, the owner of TVJ won't have to build its own network to provide content to its viewers because OTT content is delivered over the open Internet, like YouTube or Netflix.

RJR has already entered into a deal with an "international company" to provide the technology, said the company's managing director, Gary Allen, at the annual general meeting held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday.

The project has been dubbed 'TVJ Everywhere'.

On-demand content access will allow viewers to watch content whenever; 'catch-up TV' services will allow them to watch previous episodes of local and foreign shows; and 'subscribe to view' allows for global subscription for shows.

What's more, the historical archive that will be offered will allow viewers to find content that is decades old.

Importantly, RJR will also offer slots for local marketers to advertise.

"These are only some digitalise features that will open new foreign advertising and overseas subscription revenues for the company," said Allen.

Currently the media company's television arm — TVJ — allows for online viewing of its local programming without charge.

A major challenge of traditional media relates to monetising its content online. Many choose instead to offer such content for free online.

"We already we have been developing and releasing radio and TV applications to give you access to all our broadcast on all platforms — new and old," said Allen. "The TVJ Everywhere platform will also allow us to facilitate other content creators; independent producers; filmmakers; and playwrights to develop and monetise content as well."

RJR group made a profit of $15.2 million during the three months to June 30, or $2 million more than year-earlier levels. The group invested in upgrading its network during its last financial year.

"We also invested more than $300 million to improve our production and transmission facilities last year," said the managing director of the media company.

This included the construction of a new tower in Flower Hill, St James; expansion and re-conditioning of a transmitter in Mount Airy, Westmorland; and expansion of transmission facility at Huntley in Manchester.

"Our single biggest investment was in the country's first full High Definition TV studio — TVJ's Studio C — which enabled us to take over the lottery draws on TV, contributing much to our improved financial performance," added Allen.

RJR returned to profitability in its financial year ending March 2014 with net earings totalling $59.4 million.

It was aided by its TV services with radio posing the "biggest challenge", said management.

The group describes the industry as suffering from an overall decline in advertising spend by companies due to the austere economy.

For instance, RJR recorded its first revenue rise in three years at $1.84 billion for its year ending March 2014 compared with $1.78 billion.

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