Sportsnet Announces Details of their NHL Coverage Plan
This afternoon Rogers announced the first major details of how their suite of channels and platforms will cover the NHL beginning in the fall. Sportsnet is promising 500 games per season (it is unclear if this includes regional games in the west, or not). Rogers will have three signature windows. Hockey Night in Canada will continue on Saturday nights, with up to 7 games broadcast on CBC, City, Sportsnet, SN1, SN360 and FX Canada. 3-5 games will air in the 7pm ET timeslot, with 1-2 following at 10pm ET. Rogers is also adding a second national over-the-air timeslot on Sunday when City will show a game at 7:30pm ET, with a pre-game show a half hour before.
Saturdays will continue as the cornerstone of hockey broadcasting in Canada. Rogers is promising more than 130 games, which is an average of 5 per week. Anywhere between four and seven games will air each Saturday, with a guaranteed three games at 7pm ET and one or two more at 10pm ET. There is also the option for matinees. Sportsnet’s extended pregame show will begin at 5pm ET. It looks like about four games featuring Canadian teams will air every Saturday, for a total of about 100 games. That leaves 30 or more games featuring a pair of American teams.
Rogers is branding City’s Sunday broadcast as “Hometown Hockey”. The broadcasts will originate from local community rinks across the country. I think showing Sunday’s game on City is a fantastic idea as the network looks to make a dent on CTV and Global. City’s highest rated weekly program is usually How I Met Your Mother, which pulls in around 1.5 million viewers on Monday nights. However, the Grammy’s, a Sunday night broadcast last week, pulled in almost 3 million viewers. It was the highest rated program in Canada between January 20-26. CTV and Global have consistently beat City for Sunday ratings over the years. Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE will also show games on Sundays. If I had to guess, these will be NBC simulcasts.
With all of the change in the new contract, Wednesdays will mostly remain as they air now (with games on Sportsnet instead of TSN). Sportsnet will show 30 games on Wednesday nights, including a few doubleheaders. This is almost identical to TSN’s current Wednesday Night Hockey schedule. Sportsnet ONE will show NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry matchups, just as TSN2 does now.
Thursday night games will air on Sportsnet 360, featuring American teams. I believe this was originally announced as a Friday package. Rogers hasn’t announced how many games will air on SN360 on Thursday; however, one game per week will equal out to about 25 per season. The most interesting thing about this package is that NBCSN does not show games on most Thursdays. This means that Sportsnet will either produce games featuring two American teams, or rely on local US broadcasts. Considering Rogers wants to look professional and have a world class broadcast, I hope they opt for the former.
One burning other burning question was answered today, even if only in a limited way. Many fans are wondering how many times they can see their favourite team on national TV under the new deal. Sportsnet announced that 40 Leafs games will air nationally on CBC, City and Sportsnet. That is the same number as TSN (17) and CBC (23) combine to show under the current contract. Since TSN has rights to 60 regional Jets games, about 22 of their games will air on national TV. Up to 30 Senators games can air on CBC/Rogers channels. However, it is still unknown how many times other Canadian teams will get on national TV.
The number for the Canadiens is somewhat dependent on where their regional rights land. Rogers has announced that TVA will air 22 Canadiens games, with most of them likely to air on Saturday nights. But surely Rogers will get to show at least a few games on Sunday and Wednesday, even if RDS makes Tuesday its main night to show regional Canadiens games. Under the current contract around 45 Canadiens games air on CBC and TSN each season.
Since Sportsnet owns rights to all 82 games for each of the Canucks, Oilers and Flames (regionally and nationally), it is also still unknown how many times each of these teams can air nationally. However, based on regional contracts, Rogers can show at least 24 games for each. If i had to guess, Rogers will show each team at least 30 times since the Senators regional contract allows for that number of national telecasts.
Next I plan to break down Sportsnet’s promise of 500 games nationally. 100 of those are US vs. US matchups on Sportsnet 360 or Sportsnet ONE. A total of 52 are “Hometown Hockey” on City and Wednesday night games on Sportsnet. Around 100 will probably feature Canadian teams on Saturdays (remember some of the 130 Saturday games are also counted in SN360/SN1’s 100 games). That leaves 250 games unaccounted for.