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Tom Rogers is Playing New Game With Engine Media

Tom Rogers Engine Media
Tom Rogers

Tom Rogers, the former NBCU Cable head and ex-CEO of TiVo is now executive chairman of Engine Media, which was listed on the Nasdaq market Thursday with the ticker symbol GAME, finishing at $10.46 a share, down 15.7%.

Engine Media was formed by the merger of three companies during the pandemic. It now consists of three gaming companies and three media solutions companies. With its listing, it can continue to grow by acquisitions. But Rogers doesn’t see buying any traditional media companies.

“We see ourselves as being an ally to traditional media companies that need to think about rejiggering their model toward direct-to-consumer fees,” Rogers told Broadcasting+Cable. “But directly acquiring traditional media properties? No.”

Rogers sees sports as a genre being hit hard by pay TV’s decline in viewing and subscribers fees, forcing media companies to find a new business model.

Most media companies are exploring gambling, but gambling is only one slice of the sports business.

“Gambling is an answer, but it will never be the only answer,” Rogers said. “It is fans that really drive sports and one of Engine’s businesses produces and customizes games meant to take advantage of the social and competitive nature of sports fans." 

Engine is also into eSports, which attracts younger viewers. “For younger demographics, sports is eSports," he said. It also has a company that measures eSports and the people who play them.

“The real opportunity is to figure out how to get that enthusiastic fan base to pay for an enhanced experience when watching sports on television,” he said. 

Rogers said Engine has begun contacting media companies about working with them. “We will certainly be having those conversations. We’ve certainly begun to have some recently,” he said. 

Engine's media services company includes companies in two fast-growing areas: programmatic advertising and measuring influencer marketing. On Wednesday it agreed to acquire Sideqik, an influencer marketing platform that offers brands, direct marketers, and agencies tools to discover, connect and execute marketing campaigns with content-creating influencers. Engine will integrate its Stream Hatchet unit with Sideqik, creating a one-stop-show for audience measurement, media value assessment and brand connection to gamers and influencers.

Another priority is managing Engine’s patent portfolio, Rogers said.

“We’re very much focused on building the businesses we have and making sure that all the clients that we look to serve are taking full advantage of the existing businesses,” he said, adding that Engine will be “opportunistic if we can find other pieces that fit within this rubric.”

During his days at NBCU Cable, Rogers worked closely with David Zaslav, now CEO of Discovery, which is poised to become Warner Bros. Discovery.

Rogers said they still talk. “He’s got his hands full,” he said. As a long-time observer of of the TV business, Rogers said he’s not surprised AT&T threw in the towel after spending hundreds of billion on media properties.

“When they looked around and saw their options, I think David represents a great one,” Rogers said. "He’s really transformed Discovery from a true underdog to a powerhouse. So if you’re going to make a bet on who can take their linear assets and really do something with them, he’s a good guy.”