Costing $4.5 million, spanning 11,000 square-feet, and featuring seven different sets, Sportsnet has splashed out in the design and construction of the studio for their inaugural year of national NHL broadcasting. The feature of the studio is a massive 38-by-11-foot screen nicknamed ‘Goliath’, the largest ultra-high resolution monitor ever seen in a Canadian TV studio and is made up of 170 individual panels.
Leased from CBC in their downtown studio and paid for by Rogers, the studio is no doubt the biggest viewers have ever seen on a Canadian broadcast, though if you’ve seen an American NFL broadcast in the past few years, a studio this big and fancy probably won’t be a surprise to you.
Here are the highlights from today’s media showing:
- The Hockey Night In Canada theme has been re-recorded with a 50-piece orchestra and will be similar to the previous CBC HNIC theme. Also listen for a new Hockey Central theme.
- Musical montages, like those famously seen during CBC’s reign, will not feature as heavily in HNIC this season to the disappointment of basically everybody.
- The main anchor desk has a 360-degree open area allowing for filming from any angle and the studio is capable of shooting three live broadcasts simultaneously, including two sets stacked on top of each other.
- The set was designed by the same company that created the 2010 and 2012 Olympic sets and was created and designed in eight months.
And here is the new Hockey Central studio by the numbers:
- 40,000 feet of electrical cable
- 500 studio lights
- 52 total screens
- 14 cameras
- 24 wireless microphones
- 9 distinct sets including the main anchor desk, three regional sets, George Stroumboulopoulos’s interview set, and a LED video wall and floor area.
Finally, some pretty pictures:
• TSN has finally redesigned their website. From the look of the previous one, the last update occurred in the early 2000s, which is an eternity when it comes to the evolution of web design. They seem to have finally implemented a responsive design for those visiting on tablets and phones, as well as gone with the whole “white space” look which makes it look somewhat similar to the Sportsnet.ca redesign that has been partially launched. ESPN will also be launching a new site shortly heavy on white space.
• Kraft Hockeyville will return for the next three years with Sportsnet taking over where CBC left off. Hockeyville looks to improve arenas and support grassroots hockey in communities across Canada with over $3.5 million of contributions.
• Hockey analytics are hotter than ever with teams and networks jumping onboard the NHL’s version of Moneyball. Sportsnet recently aired ‘A Numbers Game’ which took a look at the history and current status of the analytics era (online version here). TSN launched ‘TSN Hockey Analytics’ this season which will break down all the fancy new advanced stats that are available and will screen on TSN platforms including live game broadcasts and online. Full details available here.
• Sportsnet have released a sneak-peek time lapse video of construction of the new Hockey Central set for the upcoming season. It doesn’t show what the set actually looks like as I guess they want to show that off on opening night, but who doesn’t like a good time lapse video?!
• If you’re a fan of TSN Radio Toronto’s Blue Jays beat reporter Scott MacArthur, Toronto Sports Media have a Q&A interview with him discussing his recent interview with Colby Rasmus and the baseball beat in general.
• If you’re a fan of La Liga or just watching soccer in general in Spanish, then good news for you. The CRTC has approved beIN Sports Espanol for carriage in Canada. Check your local provider to see whether they carry it (Bell Fibe already is). The channel is included in your monthly fee for the English version of the channel.
• Speaking of Bell, NBA League Pass will finally be available this season to those with Bell Fibe or Bell Satellite. I have no idea why it was never carried and what caused the change, but for $150 you can view all out-of-market NBA games this upcoming season. Look out for the Canadian TV schedule in the coming weeks.
• Over at BarDown (TSN’s attempt at a Grantland/Deadspin-type of site, I think), there is brief interview with TSN’s founding president Gordon Craig on how TSN came to be formed way back in the summer of 1984. Fun fact: Even back then, TSN was using darts and snooker as programming filler.
ICYMI Posts From This Week:
In what is only good news for the guy that runs BuckBlunders.com, Sportsnet have re-signed play-by-play guy Buck Martinez and analyst Pat Tabler to call all the disappointing action of the Toronto Blue Jays for another five years. The duo have been broadcasting together for the past four years.
Sure, there are worse announcers in MLB, but there are also a tonne who don’t screw up players names, home run calls and aren’t blatantly rooting for the team they are calling. If you’ve heard Martinez as an analyst on a TBS post-season broadcast, he actually isn’t too bad in that role when not required to be constantly talking. That said, it looks like he has been dropped for the upcoming post-season.
I will concede I don’t watch Jays games regularly, so maybe I just miss any good moments from them, but I try to avoid their commentary and Sportsnet’s broadcast in general, especially with those horrible superimposed advertisements, something that no other broadcast in baseball is doing (for a reason). This is just one man’s opinion.
You can read the full press release from Sportsnet here along with the comments section that is mostly trashing the pair (beware the stupid auto-play video).
If you’ve been on Twitter this week as the NHL pre-season begins, you may have seen the hilarity that ensued after TSN’s and RDS’s regional broadcast of Habs, Leafs, Sens and Jets games. For various reasons, people were pissed that they couldn’t see the hockey game they wanted to and instead were greeted by the dreaded ‘program is not available’ message.
A search of Twitter will bring up a lot of angry tweeters who vented their frustration (incorrectly) at TSN or RDS. Here are some of the highlights:
No more blackouts?
More channels equals more games?
Sportsnet never had blackouts apparently!
Misunderstanding of how the new TSN channels work.
Zero knowledge of how blackouts actually work.
Let’s just get this out of the way first: At times, people can be just plain stupid. That said, there are some valid reasons here as to why people are upset and confused by this whole, completely brand new “blackout” thing.
First off, Rogers can somewhat mostly be blamed for this. In their big announcement of their new national rights deal, Rogers incorrect stated there would no longer be blackouts for NHL viewers in Canada. In fact, the article on NHL.com still states “The agreement also guarantees there will be no further regionalization of games or local blackouts.” This was later clarified by Rogers and Sportsnet but it was too late for most as ‘no blackouts’ featured in numerous headlines and articles about the deal. Now viewers are pissed they can’t see a hockey game they were told they could see.
Others seem to think that by TSN adding three new channels and promising more sports, that somehow meant they would be able to watch any hockey they wanted that screened on the network. No doubt viewers were also used to seeing most games that aired on TSN in the previous seasons when they had national rights. Speaking of previous seasons, some may also be confused because they never saw regional games on their guides before. For example, if you’re in Toronto, you never saw Jets or Habs regional games as they aired on a separate network available only to those in the respective teams viewing area. For Habs French-language games, RDS previously had the national rights so viewers across Canada with RDS were able to watch. This season, RDS only has regional rights so those outside Eastern Canada are out of luck.
To their credit, both TSN and RDS have tried to help explain the situation to viewers. RDS has published a page in both English and French explaining why the blackouts aren’t their fault and the TSN Twitter account has been replying to those upset.
For now though, I’m sure people will remain angry no matter whether they are told the very reasonable explanation as to why they can’t see a game featuring a Canadian team on the other side of the country or not. Of course, in the end, you can blame the NHL for all of this for having regional television areas, but it’s not like they are the only league with a blackout policy.
— Dan (@SportsOnCdnTV)
Picking up where the CBC left off, OMNI Television will produce Hockey Night In Canada in Punjabi every Saturday night this season beginning October 11 with a doubleheader each week. Presumably, the early game will feature the Leafs and the late game featuring the Canucks and other Canadian NHL teams being broadcast if either of those teams aren’t in action.
In addition to the weekly games, OMNI will produce multilingual NHL content in 22 languages with a weekly Your Hockey segment and Hockey 101. Your Hockey will be a weekly segment in Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin and Italian that will screen during their respective national news broadcast beginning the week of September 29 and will include topics such as grassroots hockey, the ins-and-outs of minor hockey and profiles of hockey-related personalities in their community.
Hockey 101 will help new Canadians understand the basics of hockey including the rules of the game. It will premier in eight languages: English, French, Cantonese, Italian, Mandarin, Punjabi, Portuguese and Tagalog. Episodes will premier the week of September 29 on OMNI Television and online at OMNI.tv. An additional 14 languages — Arabic, Farsi, Greek, Hindi, Korean, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Somali, Tamil, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese — will be added to on-air and online broadcasts in the coming weeks.
OMNI Television has stations in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
That’s pretty much all I have to say for this week.
Thursday September 25
8:25pm: New York Giants at Washington Redskins
• CBS, Sportsnet. TVA Sports
Jim Nantz, Phil Simms & Tracy Wolfson
Sunday September 28
1pm: Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens
• CBS Cleveland, Seattle. Minneapolis
Greg Gumbel, Trent Green & Evan Washburn
1pm: Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
• CTV Ontario
• CBS Boston, Burlington, Watertown, Rochester, Buffalo
Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots
1pm: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
• CTV Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Alberta, BC
• Fox Minneapolis, Spokane, Tacoma
Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch & Pam Oliver
1pm: Detroit Lions at New York Jets
• CTV Atlantic, Montreal
• Fox Boston, Burlington, Rochester, Buffalo, Detroit
Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
1pm: Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
• CBS Spokane
Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
4:05pm: Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers
• CBS Detroit
Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein
4:25pm Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers
• CTV nationwide except Winnipeg, CTV2 Atlantic
Joe Buck, Troy Aikman & Erin Andrews
4:25pm: Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings
• TSN2, CTV Winnipeg
Chris Myers, Ronde Barber & Jennifer Hale
8:15pm: New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys
• NBC, TSN, RDS2
Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth & Michelle Tafoya
Monday September 29
8;30pm: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs
• TSN, RDS2
Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden & Lisa Salters
Another pre-season begins tonight and a slab of meaningless games are scheduled regionally and nationally. Sportsnet will have ten national games over the next two weeks, RDS will cover every Habs game, and the Edmonton Oilers will broadcast all their non-national games on their website, something no other Canadian team seems to be doing. Of course, the networks have a reason for not broadcasting Oilers games based on their previous season.
This will give us a slight glimpse into what Sportsnet has in mind for their coverage for the season and whether TSN will continue to offer their usual excellent standard of game broadcasts, but expect both networks to wait until the season proper to roll out any fancy new features and/or graphics packages.
EDIT: In my rush to post, I forgot to mention that all RDS games are regional this season, so only those in the Canadiens viewing area will see the action. Interestingly, no national French-language games scheduled for TVA Sports. Looks like CBC will be showing some Sportsnet pre-season games beginning this Wednesday, but CBC isn’t included on the NHL website schedule so I’m not sure if all national games will be on CBC or only select ones. A little weird.
Full schedule is below. All times are Eastern and regionally blacked-out games denoted by an asterisk.