Posts Tagged ‘NHL’
Fox aims to do the unthinkable when it launches Fox Sports 1 this August, overtake ESPN as the most watched sports channel in America. And it certainly has a chance. At launch it has MLB (beginning in 2014), NASCAR (including Sprint Cup races in 2015), college football and hoops, just like ESPN. Fox Sports also has UEFA Champions League and FIFA tournaments beginning in 2015. All Fox is missing out on are the big events (minus the World Cup) that ESPN and Turner’s TNT have. ESPN has the BCS, Turner has March Madness. ESPN has weekday coverage of three of golf’s majors, TNT has the other. ESPN also has all four tennis Grand Slams.
Due to the long-term nature of broadcast contracts, there isn’t a lot more Fox can do to compete with ESPN. They can compete with ESPN’s highlight programs though. Late Friday news came that the faces of TSN’s SportsCentre, Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, were leaving TSN for new jobs in Los Angeles along with “Producer Tim”. It was quickly confirmed, as I initially speculated, that these jobs were at Fox for the new nightly news show “Fox Sports Live”, which will air weeknights from from 11pm until 2am Eastern. The new program will compete directly with ESPN’s SportsCenter, something that sports channels in the US are usually reluctant to do.
While SportsCenter is incredibly popular, it does have its faults. There is certainly a base in American looking for something new and refreshing. Fox is known for going against the establishment and trying new things, and gimmicks, in sports broadcasting. Some, like the FoxBox, have stuck. Others, like the glowing puck, not so much. Onrait and O’Toole certainly fit the Fox ideal of different, and yes, at times gimmicky. Not that it usually detracts from their broadcasts. After Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick, who also called their SportsCenter “The Big Show”, ESPN would never go for a duo potentially bigger than the network like Onrait and O’Toole.
Last year The Wall Street Journal wrote an article on Onrait and O’Toole asking “Why Can’t We Have Canada’s SportsCentre?”. Now you do, America. And before anyone asks, no I do not know if Fox Sports 1 will be available in Canada.
theScore to Rogers… Last Tuesday the CRTC finalized the sale of theScore Television Network to Rogers. Sportsnet immediately took control of it, although it will go by theScore until a rebrand on Canada Day. Live @ theScore and the Footy Show both ended Monday, without so much as a goodbye. You can read Kristian Jack and James Sharman’s final thoughts on the Footy Show here. A new “Hockey Central Xtra” replaced Live @, airing from 5-6pm Eastern on weeknights with a mix of theScore and Sportsnet on-air talent. Tim and Sid returned to theScore with a simulcast of their Fan 590 radio show on Wednesday. In other immediate changes Monday Night Raw is now live and theScore will have 8 Toronto FC matches this season.
Rogers valued the transaction at $172 million, while Rogers will contribute $17.1 million to a tangible-benefits package for amateur sports in Canada. The CRTC did deny Rogers’ idea of using the tangible benefits package to create a Canadian version of the X Games. The CRTC’s main problem is that in the broadcasting community, Rogers would exclusively benefit from the “Sportsnet Winter Games”. I agree. What’s the point in a required investment to improve amateur sports and broadcasting in Canada if the company paying is the lone company to benefit? As a result, Rogers must submit an alternative plan by the end of the month.
What interests me are the interventions put forward by other media companies. Eastlink asked the CRTC to reclassify theScore as a “mainstream sports service”, similar to TSN, TSN2 or Sportsnet ONE. The CRTC opened up this sector to Canadian competition a few years ago. Previously TSN had protection. theScore enjoys similar protection as a sports news service. Unless Eastlink plans on launching a sports news channel, which seems unlikely, I find this is an odd intervention. Bell’s intervention was also interesting. Bell wanted the new license to include a condition to prevent theScore from tape-delaying programming by 15 minutes to get around live-programming rules imposed on it. theScore has previously done this with Serie A soccer and WWE.
I expect theScore will continue to air mostly basketball, soccer, WWE and college/university/amateur sports. The channel has found a niche with these sports, and I think for the most part Rogers will continue this. Rogers has already bought rights to FIBA basketball tournaments for theScore. Sportsnet has rights to CIS football and basketball games that air on Fox and Fox Sports 1 in the US. The CIS Hockey Championship would also make sense for theScore. There’s also always more room for UEFA Champions League group stage matches. WWE will continue to anchor theScore’s line-up on Monday and Friday. Regardless of whether it’s a sport, it is theScore’s highest-rated program. It consistently competes with Monday Night Football for the best cable ratings on Mondays in the fall. Limitations on the amount of live sports broadcasts will limit how many live games can air on theScore.
One thing I think Sportsnet really needs to capitalize on is the Footy Show’s popularity, even if it is gone. James Sharman, Kristian Jack, Brendan Dunlop, John Molinaro, and Thomas Dobby are all working for the same company again. The best time period for the podcast is when they were on it, in my opinion. Either a podcast or radio show would be great.
Late Starts… Anyone reading this live in St. Louis, Chicago or Minnesota? I hate the idea of 8:30pm local starts in the playoffs just for TV. The NBA does it regularly, but the NHL only started this year. I think one reason for this, aside from pleasing CBC and NBC, is to test the waters for next season when the divisional playoff format begins. One or two series in next year’s first round will feature two Central Time teams. That will create headaches for the NHL with three-quarters of all playoff games in the Eastern or Central time zones. Moving to an NBA-style schedule is one way to fix it. In other news, puckdrop of game 5 of the Kings-Blues series will be at 9pm Eastern, which means CBC will have to miss the first period since it conflicts with the Leafs-Bruins game. No word if cable/satellite providers will make this game available on an alternate channel yet.
Dowbiggin Gone… Toronto Sports Media is reporting that the Globe & Mail will not re-new Bruce Dowbiggin’s contract. I have heard the same thing. While Bruce could, at times, write a good piece on sports media, I thought his columns took a sharp dive when he began writing mostly about hockey and sports in general. Since Dowbiggin does love to include Tweets in his columns, here’s one to prove my point:
Honestly, what else is Gyrba on ice for? Not like he did this between great goals. Out to punish only, the kind of plug NHL can do without.—
bruce dowbiggin (@dowbboy) May 03, 2013
Now before I get into a rant defending Gryba (not on the hit, but in general), I just want to say he had a +28 rating in the minors this year. He was -3 logging 20 minutes a game for the Senators during the regular season. He blocked more than a shot a game, good enough for tenth among rookies. As this Ottawa Citizen article points out, you can’t judge Gryba (or many other defensemen) by their offensive output. Seems obvious, but isn’t to everyone I guess.
The Globe will have other writers write about sports media when needed. Media columnist Steve Ladurantaye already writes about sports media from time to time, while soccer columnist John Doyle has written about Fox Soccer Report and (the lack of) beIN Sport in Canada. While it is sad to see the last regular sports media in a mainstream paper, it wasn’t the same since Bill Houston retired and the Star axed Chris Zelkovich’s column anyway.
CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada began its 60th season on Saturday with record ratings. There were a number of changes to CBC’s broadcasts, especially to the studio programming and the “Prime West” game. While some of CBC’s changes were effective, others need tweaking. And still others made no sense whatsoever. And, of course, it wouldn’t be the first weekend of a new NHL season without Don Cherry analysis on the Brian Burke firing (remember when Burke tried to have Cherry fired?).
I’ll start with the good. I think Kevin Weekes and Glenn Healy are both far more effective in studio than they are on game broadcasts. Weekes is especially good as the slower pace of studio talk fits his delivery better. Healy’s better if only because I’d rather hear him for 10 minutes than 60+. In fact I actually thought he was kind of funny Saturday night, more like his pre-NHLPA self. I also think CBC giving Rick Ball the “Prime West” game was a great choice. He isn’t Cuthbert or Hughson, but he is far better than Lee and should grow into the spot fine. He is also a great candidate to lead CBC’s CFL coverage, should they ever get those broadcast rights again.
The only problem about Weekes and Healy in the studio is that Kelly Hrudey is also a better studio analyst. He really seemed out of his element doing colour commentary on Saturday night. He constantly stumbled over sentences and was just too slow to keep up with the pace of the game. Hrudey is at his best when he’s in the studio with a telestrator breaking down plays. This presents the obvious problem for CBC, they have too many goalies who all excel at the same thing.
So how do they fix that problem? Well most importantly there’s still plenty of time for Hrudey to adjust to his new role. If he doesn’t, I’d suggest moving him back to the studio with Weekes. CBC could also try putting Hrudey between the benches.If all else fails, then I’d love to see Daryl Reaugh back at CBC working the late game with Ball. Of course that would also depend on Reaugh’s commitment to do local Dallas Stars game on Fox Sports.
Luckily for Hrudey, it isn’t him everyone will remember Saturday HNIC season opener for. PJ Stock drew the ire of most of Twitter on Saturday night for his studio analysis. The “best” of Stock’s lines? “Take option ‘A’ or option ‘B’. [Toronto] didn’t beat Jack the Giant Killer in Montreal.” If you can figure that one out, then good on ya. And yes, I realize it’s a metaphor to the story, but it’s also a metaphor that makes little sense.
Stock also talked in circles during the Hotstove when he got confused about P.K. Subban’s contract negotiations. Or as Stock put it, “With him in the lineup they finished 15th, without him they can’t finish any worse.” Well, duh, unless the NHL adds a 16th team to the Eastern Conference the Habs could skate a team of any 18 guys they like and not finish any worse. Stock also said he sells, which is great, but it’s not like this is Nashville or Phoenix. The Canadiens selling tickets and merchandise isn’t dependent on P.K. Subban. For CBC’s studio programming to improve, Stock needs to go.
Ron MacLean, Kevin Weekes and Elliotte Friedman followed up Stock’s “analysis” with some insight, rebuttal and facts, which I thought was great. Healy also put Stock in his place on the NHL lockout, where Stock thought the players did good to get to 50% HRR. Did anyone really believe the players would get less than a 50/50 split on HRR? Stock went on to talk over Healy.
Getting rid of Stock would also help improve CBC’s Hotstove, which was once the best sports studio programming on TV anywhere in North America. Of course that was also before the Twitter age (Satellite Hotstove, anyone?) when Saturday night was the time to get the latest trade rumours. The Hotstove, as it originally was, may not work anymore because of Twitter and 24/7 insider coverage on TSN with McKenzie and Dreger. But regardless, I’m not alone (see other media writers). If CBC is insistent on using the current format, then removing Stock and replacing him with Tim Wharnsby would probably do it for me. At least Weekes and Healy have their facts straight. Friedman needs more speaking time.
And then there were two things that were just odd about CBC’s broadcast on Saturday. The first was Andi Petrillo. Despite hosting the “iDesk” segment, there was no desk whatsoever. And the camera angles the CBC choose to use didn’t really help their case. Like her predecessors at the iDesk (Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek), CBC is wasting her talent on a useless segment. There is nothing worse than reading Tweets on-air, and it is becoming more common on every network. CBC should use her as the rinkside reporter for the afternoon game (when there is one). That would account for about 1/3 of their broadcasts this season. It’s great that she’s the first female studio host for HNIC, but what’s not great is the way they are using her.
The other oddity of CBC’s coverage was the second Don Cherry segment, at the first intermission of the Ducks @ Canucks game. It seems CBC has removed Cherry’s post-Leafs game segment for this one, which is odd in itself. What is even more odd is the arrangement. Ron MacLean sits down, while Don Cherry stands up awkwardly towering over MacLean. It was nice to see Cherry talk about teams outside the Northeast Division for once though.
Hockey Night in Canada will originate live from Calgary next Saturday. MacLean and Cherry will both be there. I’m not sure about the rest of CBC’s studio crew. Hockey Night will visit all seven Canadian cities this season.
Fact Checking… I thought Cherry was mostly on point with his Brian Burke analysis. Usually his line “Instead of getting Canadians he got US college guys and Finns and Swedes” would draw a lot of attention. Not so because of the rest of CBC’s studio programming. Anyone want to guess how many “Finns and Swedes” the Leafs have? Two, one from each country. They also have a, dare I say it, Russian.
HockeyCentral… Speaking of studio programming, Sportsnet’s HockeyCentral needs more Jeff Marek and Billy Jaffe. They two hosted the first HockeyCentral Tonight of the season on Monday and were excellent together. Jaffe never played in the NHL, he played college hockey at Michigan, but he sees the game brilliantly. His comparison of Patrick Kane’s goal on Saturday and Kyle Turris’ goal last night was great insight.
Sportsnet Scorebug… Sportsnet’s new hockey scorebug is a huge upgrade over their old one. It is very similar to the one Leafs TV used last season and it is designed by a Canadian.
Alright; here it is. If you’re like me you’ve waited for the NHL broadcast schedules for the past seven days while the CBA went through the ratification process. Even crazier than the time playoff TV schedules used to come out is the NHL on TSN schedule coming out just before midnight on a Saturday night.
TSN will broadcast 42 games featuring Canadian teams this season (NBC simulcasts will be announced later this week). Coverage includes four all-Canadian matchups and five Original Six matchups. The Leafs lead the way with ten broadcasts, while the Canadiens have nine. The Jets have three, while the other four Canadians teams have six a piece. The Kings and Penguins appear the most among American teams, with four games each.
TSN’s broadcast team remains unchanged from last season. Gord Miller and Chris Cuthbert return to the broadcast booth, while Mike Johnson and Ray Ferraro return between the benches. TSN’s studio show features James Duthie, Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, Aaron Ward and Pierre Lebrun, if you haven’t already figured that out during the constant NHL on TSN studio specials during the past week.
Also of note, the 2013 NHL Draft will take place on Sunday June 30, with all seven rounds on the same day. It will start in the afternoon. If over a million people watch a hockey draft on a summer Sunday afternoon…
Apparently 5am on a Saturday night 112 days into the NHL lockout is a better time to meet than regular daytime hours of any of the past five months. Or the months before that. TSN and Sportsnet have both covered the NHL lockout day after day since the first cancelled game in October. And let’s be honest, most of those 112 were meaningless in the grand scheme of things. The big moves have come within the past 24 hours. Pierre Leburn reported that the NHL moved up to a $62.5 million cap last night. Apparently the players got what they wanted as the final cap number $64.3 million (the players wanted $65 million, the owners wanted $60 million).
With most of the big issues agreed upon Saturday night and Sunday morning, it was the coverage these past 24 hours that mattered most. And TSN had a decisive edge over Sportsnet. Both networks had live coverage from New York City throughout the day. However as breaking news emerged during the overnight hours, TSN was the only network with live coverage. SportsCentre went live throughout the night and was still live when a deal was agreed on at 5:00am ET. Meanwhile the same taped edition of Connected, with the same taped segments of HockeyCentral’s lockout analysis, aired on Sportsnet. As a result, TSN was the first to go live to New York after a deal had been reached.
After months of preperation and research, Canada’s dominant national newspaper The Globe and Mail introduced a new paywall for articles on its website. The Globe isn’t the first major publication to do this, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal also have online paywalls. As do some regional canadian publications, like the Vancouver Province and Ottawa Citizen.
The Globe will charge readers $2o a month for unlimited access to articles. Those who subscribe to the 6-day print version of the paper will have free online access included. Weekend subscribers will pay $5 a month, on top of their regular subscription price. Everyone else is limited to ten articles a month. This is similar to the Postmedia papers I mentioned, who allow readers 15 free articles a month. Any links accessed through social media will not count towards the monthly quota.
The Globe has always been my primary source for both news and sports. I gained an interest in sports media reading (the now-retired) Bill Houston’s columns. Stephen Brunt was a long-time employee. Now working for Sportsnet, he gets my vote as Canada’s premier sports writer. Michael Grange is also a former Globe writer now working at Sportsnet. Many of the best in The Globe‘s sports section have now moved on. Eric Duhatschek, Jeff Blair (who isn’t even Canada’s best baseball writer), Roy MacGregor and David Shoalts are still there, but otherwise the sports section is a shadow of its former self.
However, the paper does still excel in other ares. John Doyle is one of the few TV critics in Canada who will write about soccer coverage. When news broke that Fox Soccer Report was ending, he reported on it in a major publication. He did the same when it became apparent that Canadians wouldn’t get La Liga or Serie A coverage on TV this fall. Steve Ladurantaye, one of The Globe‘s other media columnists is also a worthy read. John Ibbitson is still one of the most trusted columnists in Canadian politics.
All of that said, is it really worth $20 when you can find much of The Globe‘s information elsewhere? As I said, Brunt and Grange now write for Sportsnet. They were two of the reasons I used to visit GlobeSports.com daily. Thier columns are available for free on Sportsnet.ca. TSN.ca, CBCSports.ca and ESPN.com (among many others) also offer great sports articles, including those from the AP and CP wires, for free. And with a growing number of respected columnists, such as Elliotte Friedman on CBC.
And then there is the National Post, which is quickly gaining respect from me. Through Twitter I’ve discovered Bruce Arthur (sports) and Andrew Coyne (politics) are two of my favourite writers. John Ivison, a Scot who is also on CTV’s Question Period, provides a unique view on Canadian politics considering he only moved here 15 years ago. Sure, the National Post has had its fair share of controversial columnists over its short history, but its free (for now) and its got some great writers.
I know The Globe has to find a way to make money in a new era where most news is consumed online, especially in the valuable 18-54 demographic. However, $20 is a bit steep in my opinion. I don’t plan to pay it, and I don’t think I’ll have much of a problem replacing The Globe with the three Post columnists I mentioned, plus Sportsnet.ca and CBCSports.ca. It is also worth noting that the National Post will also introduce a paywall in January.
NHL Lockout… I don’t have much to say about the NHL’s announcement to cancel games through the end of November, except I hope it comes back December 1 and this man is still alive to see it. A great story that puts it all in perspective.
beIN Coming Soon?… Sportcal, a sports media publication based in Great Britain, has revealed that beIN Sport are “Eyeing tie-up with Canada’s TLN”. A full article is available, albeit it behind a paywall so I don’t have a clue what it says. Rumour is beIN want a minority stake (15-20%) in TLN networks in exchange for TLN’s properties (which include Euroworld Sport and Spanish language TLN Espanol) broadcasting Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1, the Carling Cup and England’s Championship in Canada. In such an event, Euroworld Sport would likely become beIN Sport Canada. As I’ve said recently, it seems a deal is getting closer.
Premier League 2013-16… The big news in America is that ESPN and FOX are out as Premiership broadcasters following this season. While it is confirmed that they did not win the bid to broadcast EPL matches, it is not known who did. Rumour is that NBCUniversal was the high bidder, which gives them another major international sports event at Fox’s expense. NBC also picked up Formula 1, which currently airs on FOX, earlier this month. beIN Sport is the other possible winner. An official announcement is expected next week.
This means that Ian Darke is out of a full-time job. Darke was once Sky Sports’ #2 before leaving for the top position at ESPN in America. He joins Jon Champion, his UK counterpart who calls games for ESPN over there, as those on the market. One of the two is expected to join new the new British start-up BT, who will broadcast Premiership games in the UK beginning next fall. This would be a prime position for Darke as it would likely allow him to continue working with ESPN US for the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.
It is unclear whether NBC will hire its own Premiership commentators, of if they will just use the Premier League Production international feed (where Champion and Darke both work part-time, by the way).
What About Canada?… The Canadian tender was also due last week. Rogers is expected to be the leading bidder, with the Premier League a vital part of the channel since its launch in 1998. EPL is also the backbone of Rogers’ premium channel Sportsnet World. TSN could potentially bid with Rogers, or go at it alone. beIN is the unknown and when the rights are decided may depend on when/if the beIN/TLN deal gets done and approved by the CRTC.
Sportsnet On-Site… I am a bit surprised that Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell and Gregg Zaun are hosting Sportsnet’s World Series pre-game show from the stadium. In recent years the trend has gone the other way, with networks keeping studio shows in Toronto to offset rising costs. Having a pre-game at the stadium for big events adds to the atmosphere. I know many have switched over to Fox for the World Series, but Sportsnet’s pre-game show for game 1 was worth it for Stephen Brunt’s essay alone.
Through the Knotholes… During game 1 of the World Series, MLB International commentator Gary Thorne noted that the Giants allow fans to view the game through the fence below right field for free (known as knotholes, historically). Thorne and colour commentator Sutcliffe talked about how nice it was for something to be free in the age of rising costs for those attending baseball games. Thorne mentioned hot dogs, pop and beer add to gameday expenses for fans. Sutcliffe subtlely blamed it on Alex Rodriquez’s $27.5 million a year contract.
Dazed and Confused… The CBC threatened to sue CTV over confusing viewers when they introduced the “Big Bang Night in Canada” name. For its part, CTV responded with this sarcastic press release. If you think its bad now, wait until they are both bidding for NHL rights in a year.
Saturday Night AHL… CTV can call a collection of four Big Bang episodes whatever they want, but Sportsnet has the closest thing to Hockey Night in Canada with its AHL broadcasts. With the NHL cancelling games through December 1, Sportsnet has announced its AHL broadcasts for November. They are: Rochester @ Hamilton on November 3, Oklahoma City @ Abbotsford on November 10, Hamilton @ Toronto on November 17, and Milwaukee @ Chicago on November 24. Sportsnet’s Maple Leafs, Oilers and Flames broadcast crews will each get one of the next three games.
Figure Skating: With no NHL on TV tonight, CTV’s coverage of Skate Canada might take away the top Saturday sports rating. Patrick Chan headlines coverage of the men’s free skate at 7:00pm tonight. Brian Williams is back to host CTV’s coverage.
NCAA FB: Oklahoma and Notre Dame are two of the most popular programs in college football. They go into tonight’s game in Norman (8pm, ABC) both ranked in the top 8 in the BCS. The Irish, who are still undefeated, are 5th. Oklahoma have only lost to Kansas State and are 8th. The Sooners are one of two tough road tests remaining for Notre Dame. The other is USC in a month’s time.
MLB: The World Series could well be decided this weekend as San Francisco takes a 2-0 lead to Detroit. Games 3, 4 and 5 are on Saturday, Sunday and Monday night (all 8pm, Sportsnet). The best pitching match-up features Matt Cain against Max Scherzer on Sunday night. Ryan Vogelsong faces Anibal Sanchez tonight.
EPL: Two of the oldest and biggest rivals in English football meet on Sunday morning as Liverpool make the one mile treck from Anfield to face Everton at Goodison Park (9:30am, TSN2). Liverpool are off to a slow start this season with just two wins in their first eight matches. They sit 11th in the table. Everton are off to a great start as they’re fourth, only behind powerhouses Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City. Speaking of Man United and Chelsea, they square off immediately following the Everton v Liverpool match (12pm, Sportsnet World). The winner goes to first place in league.
NFL: Two NFL games stand apart from the rest this weekend. On Sunday the 5-2 Giants travel to Dallas to face the 3-3 Cowboys in a rare nationally televised afternoon game (4:25pm, FOX). The Cowboys beat the Giants at the Meadowlands on opening night. Since then the teams have moved in opposite directions. The Monday night game features top two teams in the NFC West as the 4-3 Cardinals host the 5-2 49ers (8:30pm, TSN).
Sportsnet’s choice to use Major League Baseball’s international feed for select postseason games draws the ire of Canadians every year. Comments range from “the graphics suck”, to “the commentators suck”, to “I miss TBS”. While there is no doubt that it doesn’t have all the features that Fox and TBS have, MLB International offers a solid broadcast.
Even in baseball, where talk needs to fill plenty of dead air, three commentators in the booth is usually too many. This is one of the biggest problems with the TBS broadcasts. Ron Darling is a great analyst, but why does TBS need another pitcher, John Smoltz, in the booth? Gary Thorne, who is one of the best and most experienced baseball commentators, is able to convey the game to viewers better than both Joe Buck and Ernie Johnson Jr. Rick Sutcliffe, much like Tim McCarver, isn’t exactly a wordsmith, but he doesn’t back away from criticizing star players either. On more than one occasion during the ALCS he gave it to Alex Rodriguez for not being a team player. Yes, he’s old school. Is that necessarily a bad thing though?
MLB International’s graphics have actually moved into the 21st century in recent years. I wouldn’t mind a pitch count somewhere on the screen, but neither Fox nor TBS offer one either. TBS does have a pitchtrax, which I can take or leave to be honest. I don’t see the need for it all the time. And on replays it is usually fairly easy to tell balls/strikes just by following the ball. The international feed lacks an on-field reporter, but again it isn’t a huge loss. Ken Rosenthal is more useful before the trade deadline than he is after. And for some reason Fox sees the need for another reporter in Erin Andrews. Craig Sager tends to ask the obvious question on TBS. Going back to the ALDS he asked Raul Ibanez where he was all game before he pitch-hit in the 9th inning.
Those who don’t like the international feed won’t have to see another production of their’s until next October. The NLCS and World Series are both on Fox.
McCarver Moments… Just how bad is Tim McCarver? I decided to keep track of some of his best quotes from Monday’s NLCS game 2. Here they are:
- “Foul splashdowns do not count in this park.” – after a ball was hit foul and landed in the pool
- He criticized the Cardinals for pitching around Angel Pagan (who had earlier hit a home run) to face Marco Scuturo. It is questionable whether the Cards even pitched around Pagan, even more questionable why McCarver had a problem with it.
- “Having it the bathroom is better than having it in the kitchen.” – referring to Chris Carpenter’s rib, which he kept in a jar in his house after surgery.
- “Most players see the field from field level.”
de Guzman Playing for Canada… Sometimes the media puts the cart before the horse. There’s no better example than when Sportsnet broke the story that Jonathan de Guzman was considering playing for Canada if we drew with or beat Honduras and made the last round of World Cup qualifying (the hex). Part of the blame goes to Jonathan’s brother Julian for mentioning it to Sportsnet the day before the biggest Canadian soccer game in 25 years. The rest of the blame goes to Sportsnet for focusing on a player who would potentially play for Canada if the 18 guys currently on the team got a result later in the day. The story quickly became bigger news than the match itself in Canada. And as it turns out, Canada lost 8-1.
More Soviets… Haven’t had enough Russian/Soviet teams getting beat by North American teams this fall? CBC and TSN will have two more games over the next week. On Saturday CBC will likely show the Red Army vs. Philadelphia Flyers game from 1976. On Wednesday TSN will re-broadcast the final game of the 1991 World Junior Hockey Championships in Saskatoon. The tournament was decided by a round robin at the time; however, it came down to a final game winner take all between Canada and the Soviets. Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros were the star players for Canada.
Junior Hockey… Two QMJHL games are included in Sportsnet’s upcoming CHL schedule. They are: Moncton @ Blainville-Boisbard on October 26 and Halifax @ Gatineau on November 9. Sportsnet will also have the Canada-Russia Super Seires beginning on November 5.
- EPL: It seems that if anyone are going to challenge the Manchester teams for the Premiership crown in 2012, it will be Chelsea (currently 1st on 19 points) or Spurs (currently tied for 4th on 14 points). The two meet at White Hart Lane in London on Saturday afternoon (7:30am, TSN). Spurs can go to second (for the time being at least), with a win.
- Bundesliga: With Serie A and La Liga still on ice for Canadian fans, those looking for some non-English European action may want to look to Germany’s Bundesliga. The biggest top-flight matchup in Germany is the Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke. The two meet for the first time this season on Saturday (2:30pm, GolTV).
- NCAA: Saturday is another huge day in college football as several top teams face tests on the road. The biggest games include #6 LSU @ #18 Texas A&M (12pm, TSN2), #7 South Carolina @ #2 Florida (3:30pm, CBS) and #4 Kansas State @ #13 West Virginia (7pm, FOX). The top ranked team in the first BCS standings, Alabama, will also face their toughest test yet as they travel to Tennessee (7pm, theScore). The results of these games could drastically shake up the top 10 in the BCS rankings.
- NFL: The biggest NFL game of the week features the 5-1 Ravens facing the 5-1 Texans in Houston (Sunday, 1pm, CTV/CBS). If that game isn’t available to you, watch for Packers @ Rams (1pm, TSN2), Redskins @ Giants (1pm, CTV/FOX) or Cardinals @ Vikings (1pm, CTV/FOX). Most will get at least 2 or 3 of those games, making the 1pm Sunday timeslot the best to watch NFL this weekend.
- UEFA: In one of the biggest Champions League matches yet this season, the champions of Spain, Real Madrid, face the German champions, Borussia Dortmund (Wednesday, 2:30pm, Sportsnet). The Westfalenstadion, Dortmund’s 66, 000 seat home stadium, is known to be the loudest in Europe.
Chances are both professional hockey players and the NHL’s 30 owners will come out of the lockout just fine. As the argument goes, it’s a battle of millionaires against billionaires. Sure neither is making money now, but both will be (if a fair, sensible CBA is agreed upon), sometime within the next year. Looking past the players and owners, and even the fans who will have to find something else to do on cold evenings during Canadian winter, there are many who are truly hurt by this lockout. Those who work at NHL offices (which are affected by cuts already), undoubtably the teams themselves will make cuts too, those who work at the arenas that are now empty for weeks at a time in some cases. And I’m sure there are countless others.
But, considering the focus of this blog, it seems only right to focus on the members of the media. TSN and Sportsnet will have no problem keeping their hockey personalities busy between retro games with new studio shows (on TSN), AHL/CHL games (on Sportsnet) and countless segments on every second of Donald Fehr’s life on the highlight and talk shows. There’s little doubt that these jobs are in jeopardy. However, the freelancers who work behind the scenes are left scrambling. Sure some will find work on those AHL and CHL games (and other events too), but some won’t.
And then there’s the CBC. The public broadcaster relies on NHL hockey, which is consistently its top-rated weekly program, to generate revenue to help finance other CBC programs. The government recently cut funding to CBC, including CBC Sports. Now not only does CBC have to find replacement programming for four hours a week (taking out three hours for a classic game), but they also have to find other streams of revenue in the face of cuts and a loss of expected revenue from hockey.
Last time Gary Bettman announced the NHL would lose a full season, news soon followed that Chris Cuthbert had been cut by the CBC. Even though he expected to become Hockey Night in Canada‘s primary play-by-play commentator, CBC couldn’t commit to paying his salary with taxpayer dollars (among other things, I should point out) when there were no hockey games for him to call. I’m not saying that CBC will cut Jim Hughson, Mark Lee, or anyone else this time, but they ware in a better economic position eight years ago. If they had to cut HNIC spending then, it would be reasonable to assume they might now too.
CBC will need to find work for high-profile Hockey Night personalities during the lockout. Sports Weekend returns from its summer hiatus in two weeks. Sports featured this winter include figure skating, alpine skiing, speed skating, bobsleigh and curling. Mark Lee has experience calling figure skating. I’d recommend using Scott Oake on ski racing, where excelled during CBC’s 2002 and 2006 Olympic coverage. Of course using HNIC personalities on Sports Weekend could prevent CBC’a amateur sports regulars, like Brenda Irving and Steve Armitage, from getting assignments.
Ron MacLean will host CBC’s classic broadcasts on Saturday nights, a similar role to his hosting of Movie Night in Canada in 2004.
Quebec vs. Montreal… It’s a rivalry that hasn’t happened in the NHL in over 15 years. NHLPA players have organized a series of charity games between teams featuring NHL players from Quebec City and Montreal. The players will compete for their city. With the Canadiens opening game for Thursday cancelled, RDS has elected to show one of these games instead. It will air on RDS INFO, while RDS has baseball and RDS2 has NFL.
Sportsnet not showing A’s-Tigers… No doubt viewers across Canada were as confused as I was when a classic 1979 MLB game (clearly from MLB Network) showed up on TV screens nationwide Sunday afternoon. Sportsnet missed he first inning of the Athletics @ Tigers game before restoring the correct MLB Network feed. Word from Sportsnet is MLB Network initially set them the wrong feed. They then had to get in contact with MLB Network to get the other feed (that the game was on) approved.
Jamie Campbell initially laid the blame on MLB Network. Turns out that was a bit rash, but he was probably as confused as the viewers, to be fair.
Costas on MLB Network... Bob Costas will return to calling postseason baseball for the first time since the 2000 ALCS. Costas will call the Cardinals @ Nationals game with Jim Kaat tomorrow afternoon for MLB Network (1:00pm, Sportsnet). Costas has called regular season baseball on MLB Network for the past couple seasons; however, these games are usually not available on Canadian television.
Other baseball playoff games tomorrow are Giants @ Reds (4:00pm, Sportsnet; if necessary), Orioles @ Yankees (7:30pm, Sportsnet) and Tigers @ Athletics (9:30pm, SN1; if necessary). If the Reds and Tigers win tonight, the Orioles @ Yankees game will move to 8:30pm.
9.79*… ESPN’s 30 for 30 is back for a second season (or third, depending on how you count). The first of the new docs to air in Canada is “9.79*”, the story of Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the men’s 100m final at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Most are familiar with the story. Johnson, a Canadian, won the race. He was later banned because he tested positive for steroids. As a result Lewis, who is arguably the best Olympian ever, moved up from silver to gold.
The film recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. You can see the TIFF trailer here. It will air Thursday night at 8:30pm ET on TSN. The second season of 30 for 30 will continue on Thursdays over much of October, November and December.
Shaw Direct simsubs… I tend not to complain about simsubs. They support the Canadian broadcast industry. However, sometimes things go too far and consumers have the right to know more. Shaw Direct recently began carrying Citytv HD Toronto. That’s all fine; however, shows on that channel are now simsubbed over the American channels everywhere in Canada. Even here in Atlantic Canada, where the closest Citytv affiliate is in Toronto, we have to watch Citytv.
I never received any simsubs on Shaw Direct until they bought Global, at which point they started simsubbing Global HD nationwide. Personally, I didn’t really have a problem with this. At least when Shaw bought Global they also added Global Saint John to the Shaw Direct line-up and launched a New Brunswick specific newscast (the only one by a private broadcaster). It was easily visible how this simsubbing revenue was having a positive impact on local television here in New Brunswick. I’m not so okay with having to watch Citytv when Rogers has no local programming (let alone a channel) in the Maritimes and for that matter, they don’t have very much original programming whatsoever.
NCAA FB games… Usually when there is a major college football game on an American cable channel, Canadian fans get the shaft as it rarely airs here. That’s not the case this Saturday when #3 South Carolina travel to Death Valley to face #9 LSU on ESPN (airs at 8pm ET on TSN2 in Canada). Fans have two selections at 12:00pm as #6 Kansas States faces Iowa State on SN1 and Iowa travels to Michigan State on TSN2.
Check back later in the week for CFL weekend ratings (as well as baseball playoffs, maybe), this weekend’s NFL games on Canadian TV, some Engraved on a Nation news, and an update on the World Cup Qualifying games that will air this weekend.
- MLB: There is potential quadruple header postseason baseball both Wednesday and Thursday (as of writing this the Giants and Reds are tied 1-1 in the 9th). Games are tentatively scheduled for 1:00, 4:00, 7:30 and 9:30 both nights. All on Sportsnet or Sportsnet One. Get watching!
- FIFA WC Qualifying: As an Ireland supported, I can’t even begin to express my excitement that Irish home matches aren’t on PPV now. Ireland’s new World Cup qualifying home campaign begins Friday against Germany at the Aviva (2:30pm, GolTV). Among other key games, next Tuesday (October 16) Canada will travel to Honduras to play our final game in the current stage of CONCACAF qualifying (4:00pm, Sportsnet). The Canadian team will likely need at least a point to advance to the next round.
- College Football: There are plenty of big college football games this weekend, including four that pit two top-25 teams against each other. My best bets are #13 Oklahoma vs. #15 Texas at the Cotton Bowl (12:00pm, ABC), #17 Stanford @ #7 Notre Dame (3:30pm, NBC), and #3 South Carolina @ #9 LSU (8:00pm, TSN2).
- Alouettes-Argonauts: Who would have thought that Toronto would could overtake Montreal in the standings on a Sunday afternoon in October (1:00pm, TSN). Well, they do. A slightly mediocre (by their standards) Alouettes season and a surprisingly good campaign for the Argos have led to this.
- NFL: There are only two games this week that match-up two teams with winning records, and they both air in the late timeslot Sunday afternoon. The Patriots and Seahawks are both 3-2 heading into their game at Qwest Field (4:05pm, CBS). Viewers who receive CBS from Seattle, Boston or Detroit will get this game. The 3-2 Giants also travel to the Bay Area to face the 4-1 49ers (4:25pm, FOX). This game will air on pretty much every FOX station available in Canada, except FOX Seattle.