When the NHL announced a new divisional alignment last year, it promised more rivalry matchups in the playoffs. However, if the playoffs began tonight, the CBC’s marquee matchup would feature the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. Hardly a matchup with any historical rivalry implications. And its likely these two will play in the first round considering the Habs are 15 points behind Boston for second, while the Lightning sit a fairly comfortable 7 points ahead of the four teams fighting for the wild card positions. Outside of the Canadiens, the CBC would have no Canadian team to hang its hopes on in the playoffs. The Jets, 9 points out in the Western Conference, and Senators, 8 points out in the East, have fallen out of contention due to a dismal month following the Olympic break. Ottawa has only won 3 of their 13 games since the Olympics, while Winnipeg has only won 4 of their 13. The Canucks are 6 points out and don’t look likely to challenge Phoenix, Minnesota and Dallas for wildcard spots. For their part the Maple Leafs are in free fall, going 3-7 in their last ten games. And like Winnipeg, Toronto has only won 4 games post-Olympic break.
This free fall of almost every Canadian team is terrible news for the CBC and TSN in the last year of their NHL contract. This is the last year TSN will broadcast NHL playoff games for at least 12 seasons, while for the CBC it is the last year they can collect ad revenue off of playoff broadcasts. Both could really use a few high rated series, but that looks unlikely. If things stay as they are now, the CBC will have to rely on only the Canadiens, where viewers will be split with French broadcaster RDS. TSN needs not one, but two, more Canadian teams to climb in the playoffs in order to broadcast a series featuring a Canadian team in the first round. Again, at this point that seems very unlikely. As a result, the cost of buying ads on both channels this spring will be cheaper than they were a year ago.
The only good news for the CBC is if the playoffs started today Detroit would face Boston, in what would surely be their second choice series. An Original Six series between two teams popular in Canada would at least provide satisfying ratings in the absence of Canadian teams. That would likely leave TSN to offer Columbus-Pittsburgh and Philadelphia-NY Rangers as their primary playoff series. In the west Colorado-Chicago and Los Angeles-Anaheim would probably offer the best ratings, but both series would likely struggle to crack a million viewers per game on CBC. Vancouver and Toronto would really add a boost to ratings, bringing in more than double the viewers of series between two American teams. At this point CBC and TSN executives can only hope they turn it around in the last ten games of the season.
It’s been awhile, so here is everything you may have missed.
Bell Media, after launching similar services for CTV and CP24, have finally launched their on-demand video streaming service, TSN GO. With it, you will be able to stream many a sporting event on your computer, tablet and smartphone for free. Is there a catch, you ask? Of course there is! This is one of the two evil empires who control a majority of everyday technology in Canada. For now, you must be a Bell or Rogers TV subscriber, and have a package that includes TSN and/or TSN2. Additional TV services (Shaw being the major snub here) are expected to be announced in the coming weeks, so Bell says.
TSN GO can be accessed via TSN.ca or downloading the app from the Android or Apple store. Notably yesterday and today, if you were looking to watch the NCAA March Madness play-in games, while previous years they streamed for free, you will now need to login to TSN GO to access.
I haven’t visited the site in question, but from what I can tell from the press release, BarDown.com seems to be TSN’s Canadian version of ESPN’s Grantland with a splash of Deadspin. Grantland was named after an old-timey American sportswriter. I have no idea what bar down means, and I don’t really care enough to Google it. From the press release:
“TSN is going BarDown, covering sports far beyond typical hard news, stats, and analysis. Launching today, BarDown.com brings Canadians fun, original, and buzz-worthy sports content with a pop culture twist. BarDown takes the hottest headlines, viral videos, GIFs, and more from the worlds of sports and pop culture and packages it all in one place – from the best of @Biznasty to where Drake and Jermain Defoe have dinner. Helmed by Managing Editor Dave Krikst, BarDown also features original video, news, and features from a team of talented young writers and sports fans.”
During the 10 days of the Sochi Paralympics, one in four Canadians tuned in according to the CBC. Over 8.8 millions Canadians watched some of the broadcast on either CBC, Sportnet or Accessible Media Inc. (AMI). Canadians were able to see more Paralympic action than ever before, with more than 90 hours of TV coverage and 250 hours available online.
SAD/NOT SAD: BEIN SPORTS AND SPEED
Sad: Speed disappeared from Rogers channel lineups at the beginning of March, pissing off a bunch of people. Bell informed their subscribers that Speed may or may not be disappearing in the very near future, potentially pissing off a bunch of people. Shaw haven’t said anything (yet) about removing the channel, keeping their motor sports fans happy (though they have other reasons to be pissed off: see TSN GO above). The chances of TSN or Sportsnet picking up the NASCAR rights that Speed held (Truck series, Sprint and Nationwide practice and qualifying) are slim. The chances of either network picking up any of the other motoring programming being shown? All but zero.
Not Sad: As previously posted on this blog,, beIN Sport is now available on Rogers and Bell for all your glorious Spanish and Italian soccer needs (among other things) after getting nothing for so long. According to Bell, the channel will be on free preview until April 22, when you’ll need to fork over a very steep $15 a month to keep it. From what I have read, the date and price is similar for Rogers customers.
The Formula 1 season began last weekend with the Australian Grand Prix and as usual, TSN has live coverage for all 19 races including practice and qualifying (yet still zero pre- or post-race programming. RIP Speed). Coverage is provided by the BBC with commentary from Ben Edwards and David Coulthard. RDS will also have live coverage for every race, including the Canadian Grand Prix from Montreal. Go here for the full broadcast schedule.
TSN says that Toronto FC’s first game of the season, and first with new members Jermain Defor, Michael Brady and Julio Cesar, had a 15% increase in ratings over their season opener last season. Just shy of 300,000 viewers tuned in to watch TFC defeat Seattle 2–1 in Seattle and more than 1.5 million viewers tuned in at some stage during the match. North American soccer having bigger ratings than the NHL — who woulda thunk it. The game was the third most-watched MLS game ever on TSN (which says something about the viewership of the MLS Cup) and the teams most-watched game since 2011. Everything is coming up MLSE…
…Or not. Despite having their best record in a long time, and an almost certain berth in the playoffs, the ratings for the Raptors haven’t really grown at all since the team got good. This past Friday in their game against Memphis on TSN, they got 189,000 sets of eyeballs watching, while Sunday’s game against the Suns only found the attention of 117,000 people — the second smallest sporting TV audience for the weekend. (Numbers courtesy of Chris Zelkovich)
LINKS TO MLS BROADCAST DETAILS AND SCHEDULES WE DIDN’T POST BEFORE THE SEASON STARTED
MLS ON TSN Kicks Off Extensive Coverage of Toronto FC’s Most Anticipated Season Yet
Every Game, All Season Long: MLS ON TSN Kicks Off its Complete Coverage of Vancouver Whitecaps FC
MLS and Impact: A Special in Anticipation of the 2014 Season Kick Off at RDS
A little late in posting this (that said, who really watches the (stupidly-named) first round anyway?), but here are all the details you need for the 2014 edition of March Madness on TSN, TSN2 and RDS.
TSN platforms deliver exclusive, live, and complete coverage of NCAA March Madness, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. TSN’s exclusive coverage showcases the numerous top Canadian players competing in NCAA March Madness, including Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis, Melvin Ejim, Kevin Pangos, and more.
TSN platforms give Canadians access to every single game from the tournament, with all rounds available on TSN and TSN2 (see complete broadcast schedule below). New this year, TSN subscribers can live stream the network’s NCAA March Madness coverage on their smartphones, tablets, and computers at no additional charge through TSN GO.
TSN GO will deliver live coverage from all four First Round games as well bonus live streams from all four venues during the Second Round – giving subscribers live streaming access to every game in its entirety.
From March 20-21, TSN platforms combine to deliver every game from the Second Round for TSN subscribers:
TSN’s coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on March 20 and at 12 noon ET on March 21
TSN2’s coverage begins at 11 a.m. ET on both days
TSN GO offers TSN subscribers bonus online coverage, with live streams of all four venues delivering all 32 Second Round games in their entirety. Coverage begins at 12 noon ET on both days.
From March 22 to April 5, fans can follow all the action from the Third Round to the Final Four on TSN, TSN2, and TSN GO. The madness culminates with the championship game on Monday, April 7 at 9 p.m. ET live on TSN and TSN GO.
French-language coverage of the tournament is available on RDS from the Second Round to the championship game.
New this year, Gurdeep Ahluwalia hosts TSN’s NCAA March Madness coverage from the TSN Studio alongside analysts Jack Armstrong, Sam Mitchell, and Leo Rautins. The original studio show features pre- and post-game analysis of the day’s action and live look-ins to various games.
Canada’s most-watched sports news and information show covers all angles of the tournament with daily features and reports from NCAA March Madness starting today. Reporters on location for the opening weekend of the tournament include Jermain Franklin in St. Louis to follow Andrew Wiggins of Vaughan, Ont., and Matthew Scianitti in Buffalo to follow Tyler Ennis of Brampton, Ont. As well, SPORTSCENTRE features breaking news, daily highlights, technical breakdowns, bracket updates, and more, all-tournament long.
TSN Original Features
TSN showcases some of the top Canadian players competing in NCAA March Madness with TSN Original features on:
Thornhill, Ont.’s Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), a projected top pick in this year’s NBA Draft
Toronto’s Melvin Ejim (Iowa State), who was just named the Big 12 Conference player of the year
Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), who hails from Brampton, Ont. and is considered the most clutch freshman in NCAA basketball
Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga) of Newmarket, Ont., who led the Bulldogs to another West Coast Conference title
These TSN Original features air throughout the tournament, and will also be available on demand on TSN.ca and TSN GO.
Live coverage of NCAA March Madness will be available throughout the tournament on TSN Radio stations across the country: TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto, TSN Radio 690 in Montreal, TSN Radio 1290 in Winnipeg, TSN Radio 1200 in Ottawa,TSN Radio 1260 in Edmonton, and TEAM 1040 in Vancouver. Fans can tune in for select live game action and expert analysis from the Second Round through to the championship game (please visit each station’s dedicated website for broadcast details). Read the rest of this entry »
TSN’s Bob McKenzie, proving that he is still the top insider in the game, reported Sunday evening that CBC talk-show host, and former Much VJ, George Stroumboulopoulos is expected to become the new host of Rogers’ Hockey Night in Canada this fall. McKenzie also reports that Don Cherry will continue to offer analysis in the Coach’s Corner, at least for two seasons. Ron MacLean will also still have a job, albeit it in a reduced role. It also looks like Sportsnet has passed on current NHL host Darren Millard, who was on-hand when Sportsnet announced the new contract in November.
Stroumboulopoulos is an interesting choice by Sportsnet, but his hiring does follow a pattern. Since acquiring the package in November, Sportsnet’s President of Hockey Scott Moore has consistently talked about telling the stories of players, at the expense of the analysis and business talk that dominates CBC and TSN’s national broadcasts. When Moore hired Gord Cutler as the Senior VP of Hockey a month ago, Cutler re-iterated Sportsnet’s plan of storytelling. MacLean has a history of taking a harsh stand on some NHL business issues, including officiating. So, it makes sense that Sportsnet does not want to give him the most air time. On the other hand, Stroumboulopoulos has spent most of his time hosting pop culture shows on Much and CBC. Telling the life story of the people he interviews is a big part of his show.
He is also an interesting choice because Sportsnet wants their broadcasts to appeal to all Canadians, including new immigrants. Moore has also often repeated this point over the past few months. Stroumboulopoulos is a second generation Canadian, with a Greek father from Egypt and Ukrainian mother. If he doesn’t appeal to first and second generation Canadians, then who will? Considering Canada’s aging population, getting new Canadians to buy into hockey, instead of soccer or basketball, will become more and more important over Sportsnet’s 12 year contract.
This is the first change of the face of Hockey Night in Canada since Ron MacLean replaced Dave Hodge following the infamous flip of the pen in 1987. I’m not a big fan of the choice of Stroumboulopoulos. I would have preferred a hockey guy such as Elliotte Friedman. Sportsnet will likely confirm the appointment later this week, so stay tuned for updates.
beIN Sport Now Available… Fans of La Liga and Serie A have went a season and a half without access to their favourite teams on Canadian TV. Now beIN Sport is finally available. It is on free preview on Bell and Rogers until April, when it will cost $15 a month. Coincidentally Bell and Rogers are also the two Canadian providers that have dropped, or will soon drop, Speed. However, Speed is still available on Shaw Direct, among other regional cable providers, for those who absolutely need their motorsports fix.
When the CBC was awarded rights to the Sochi 2014 Olympics 18 months ago they were handed a tough task, combining the quantity of CTV’s coverage in 2010 with the renowned quality of their own past Olympic broadcasts. And for the most part, the CBC excelled. Their live TV coverage was equal to CTV’s effort four years ago of showing everything live, while many familiar amateur sports broadcasters returned to covering the Olympics after a four year hiatus. However, the highlight of CBC’s coverage in Sochi was their use of new media, the online streaming and Olympics app were among the best of their kind in Canada.
When CBC bought rights to the 2014 Olympics 18 months ago, some people argued that the public broadcaster did not have the resources to pull off a comprehensive broadcast that the consortium of Bell and Rogers did four years ago. However, those critics were proven wrong as almost every event in Sochi was shown live on CBC, TSN, TSN2, Sportsnet or Sportsnet ONE, just as in Vancouver. CBC was on-air with live coverage for 15 hours a day, which was actually slightly more than CTV in Vancouver.
And if the quantity equaled CTV’s effort in 2010, I’d argue the quality actually exceeded CBC’s last Winter Olympics from Torino 2006. In 2006 CBC’s primetime host, Brian Williams was not even in Italy as he hosted from Toronto. The CBC removed their most important on-air personality from the atmosphere of the Games entirely. All of CBC’s hosts and commentators were in Sochi. Most of CBC’s hosts excelled.
I was particularly impressed by the overnight crew of Andi Petrillo and Andrew Chang. It must be tough going on air just as many Canadians are headed to bed, but both of them were extremely well prepared. Petrillo was not a big surprise, as she has impressed as a hockey host at the CBC before, but unlike her counterpart Ron MacLean, she did not make everything about hockey. As I have said before, she deserves better than doing social media updates on HNIC.
Since Williams is unlikely to ever cover another Olympics, Scott Russell has assumed his role as the broadcasting face of amateur sports in Canada. And he knows everything that is necessary to know about all of the Olympic sports. Unfortunately I think Russell actually had one of the worst timeslots in Sochi. His slot was often cut into by live hockey games that were hosted by Ron MacLean or Elliotte Friedman. This happened on 10 of the 15 days that Olympic Daytime was on air, including almost every day during the second week. I actually would have preferred if MacLean had just hosted Daytime, with Russell getting the primetime gig.
The worst part of CBC’s show was the nightly panel discussion with Adam van Koeverden and Clara Hughes. Both were great Olympic athletes, but I don’t think this feature was necessary or really added any value to the broadcasts. When there are hours of Olympic competition in a day, and only four hours of it can make the primetime show, I’d prefer to see more action and less talk. CBC completely, or nearly completely, ignored some of the Games’ bigger competitions in their primetime show. Snowboarding halfpipe comes to mind. Often times this drove me to NBC’s coverage, which despite an insane amount of ads mostly focused on the competition.
One other studio broadcast that I thought was particularly good was TSN’s women’s hockey studio show. Natasha Staniszewski hosted alongside analysts Cheryl Pounder and Tessa Bonhomme. I thought it was a nice touch to have women talking about women’s hockey. This is the second straight Olympics that TSN has had a female host debut and shine. In 2012 it was Kate Beirness. Pounder and Bonhomme, along with inside the glass analyst Jennifer Botterill, all offered a fresh take on Canadian women’s hockey compared to Cassie Campbell. Eight years after retiring from Team Canada, Campbell still sounds too close to the team and comes off as a cheerleader too often. It didn’t help that her partner in the broadcast booth was Mark Lee, who I think would have been better suited to calling the curling.
I won’t spend too much time on the men’s hockey because, well, it mostly felt like watching Hockey Night in Canada. However, I do still contend that Glenn Healy is a better analyst when he works with only Jim Hughson, as he did a few times during the tournament. Elliotte Friedman was everywhere at the Bolshoy, hosting most games and doing interviews. He was also a studio analyst for Team Canada games. The one change I would have made to the hockey broadcasts is have Rick Ball replace Mark Lee, as previously mentioned.
And that is because… the curling coverage was atrocious. Joan McCusker rarely offers up any insight whatsoever. In fact she often opines that a shot isn’t even possible, disagreeing with Mike Harris. 30 seconds later the shot is made perfectly. Play-by-play commentator Rainnie rarely seemed to know what was happening, one time suggesting that a skip (Brad Jacobs, I think), didn’t even need to throw his last stone. This despite that the throwing team was down 1 point in the 10th end and there were no stones in the house. I think that curling and hockey are two sports where CBC could have leaned on TSN and Sportsnet veterans such as Rob Faulds and Gord Miller.
However, within CBC’s ranks there are plenty of veterans whose voices were a welcome return. There was Scott Oake, one of the CBC’s most professional and versatile commentators who has called Olympic alpine skiing with Kerrin Lee-Gartner many times before. Steve Armitage reclaimed his spot as the voice of speed skating in Canada, after Rod Smith did a more than admirable job in Vancouver. The CBC’s lone female play-by-play commentator, Brenda Irving avoided the sin of talking too much during performances, then she ceded to Kurt Browning and Carol Lane for analysis following each competitor.
Two two biggest surprises, and perhaps this is because both CBC and CTV have a track record of hiring terrible snowboarding and freestyle skiing analysts, were Jeff Bean and Craig McMorris. Bean was an aerials analyst for CTV in 2010. This time his portfolio grew to include the new events of slopestyle and halfpipe, which really have very little connection to aerials. Yet he knew all the tricks. He had a feel for the judging and what tricks would score well. To cover a judged sport where the tricks are so radically different to what you know is extremely impressive. McMorris was made to look a bit silly when he was confused by the judging during the men’s slopestyle on day one. However, he wasn’t alone, so I give him a pass. Canadian athletes like his brother Mark and Max Perrot were equally perplexed. As was I. The tricks that had scored well for one set of judges at X Games 2 weeks earlier were not the same tricks the Olympic judges were looking for. Play-by-play commentators Mitch Peacock and Rob Snoek were also fantastic in two sports that very few past Olympic commentators have had any success in calling. And that’s a good thing considering almost half of Canada’s victories in Sochi were in freestyle skiing or snowboarding.
However, there was one problem with the freestyle skiing coverage. Jenn Heil, who suffered from the same problems as Campbell. Heil was CBC’s analyst on moguls; however, she was part of two of the most awkward interviews of the Games. Canada won gold and silver in each of the moguls events. That resulted in two in-studio interviews. First here is the video of the Dufour-Lapointe interview. Notice Jenn Heil is the odd person out sitting on the couch with sisters Justine, Maxime, Chloe, and their parents.
And then there was the interview with all four members of the Canadian men’s team, who all made the final six, and you guessed it, Heil. Again, have a look.
In my opinion, the actual highlights of CBC’s coverage was their mobile app and live streaming. I think they are seeing where media is headed and did a great job capturing that, especially for an Olympics that took place in a time zone that meant many Canadians were at school or at work when the events were taking place. The app, the first of its kind for Olympic broadcasting in Canada, was great for start-lists and up to the minute results while watching live events. The quality of the live streaming was spectacular, just as good as watching on TV when it came through in “HD”. The navigation in the video player was great too. My one complain, the commercial breaks for the live streams were completely random. Going out in the middle of a play during hockey games at times.
All in all, CBC’s coverage continued the tradition of excellence in Olympic broadcasting. Here are videos of a couple of the best calls of Canada’s gold medal performances in Sochi.
Charles Hamelin in men’s 1500m Short Track, called by Steve Armitage
Men’s Hockey final, Canada vs. Sweden, called by Jim Hughson
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.
TSN has announced that ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, Monday Night Baseball and Wednesday Night Baseball will air on TSN and TSN2 for the next eight seasons. TSN’s coverage will include over 75 games per season. As part of the deal TSN will also show ESPN’s Baseball Tonight program. TSN has shown Sunday Night Baseball since 2010.
TSN’s announcement comes a couple of weeks after Rogers announced it will carry over 300 games per season, including the All Star Game and playoffs, a month ago. This means Canadians will have access to around 400 Major League Baseball games per season. Sportsnet’s contract also ends after the 2021 season.