Posts Tagged ‘NHL’
Sportsnet officially announced their new broadcast contract with the National Hockey League this morning. And the scope of the new deal is much wider than I could have imagined when news of it first broke 12 hours ago. Sportsnet has bought rights to all nationally-broadcast NHL games for 12 seasons beginning next fall. Sportsnet also picks up rights to the NHL All Star Game and Entry Draft. Rogers will also take over operation of NHL Centre Ice and GameCentre Live in Canada. Rogers is paying $5.2 billion for rights to every game for 12 seasons. The NHL will receive approximately $300 million next season, with fees raising to $500 million by the end of the contract.
Coverage on Saturdays and Sundays will begin at 4pm Eastern. Sportsnet has exclusive national coverage on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. Sportsnet will also launch a new studio that will host all NHL on Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. As part of the deal Rogers will sub-license some Saturday night coverage to the CBC. Two games every Saturday will air on CBC, with the rest airing on Citytv and Sportsnet. This eliminates the need for regional broadcasting. Sportsnet will assume complete creative control over all Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. This means the future for CBC’s hockey talent is uncertain. It also means that Sportsnet will have the pick of all on-air personalities at TSN and CBC for their new broadcasts. Games will air on CBC, Sportsnet, SN1, SN360, TVA, TVA Sports, TVA Sports 2, as well as other potential channels on Saturday nights.
Keith Pelley, who was key in the plans for how Sportsnet will cover the NHL, was also the head of the Olympic Broadcast Consortium’s Vancouver 2010 coverage. Sportsnet will aim to offer Hockey Night in Canada in a similar fashion with all networks pooling resources and cross-promoting. Pelley set a new standard for Olympic broadcasting in Canada and is looking to do the same for hockey. Since the Sportsnet deal with CBC only came together in the past few days the broadcasters haven’t decided which CBC on-air personalities will transfer over to Sportsnet.
Sportsnet will get to show 30 Leafs games nationally (some could air on CBC) as part of the new agreement. Sportsnet will retain 26 for regional consumption beginning in 2016, with the other 26 airing on TSN regionally. Since TSN has regional rights to 60 Jets games, the Jets will appear on Sportsnet a maximum of 22 times. It is unclear how many games for each of Canada’s other five teams will air on Sportsnet. TVA will pick up rights to 22 Montreal Canadiens games, most of which will air on their over-the-air channel on Saturday nights.
The sub-licensing deal with the CBC is one of the most intriguing aspects of the deal. The CBC will have around 320 hours of primetime hockey. That probably equates to around 50 regular season games and 50 playoff games. There is no word yet on how CBC and Sportsnet will split-up the playoffs, except that the Stanley Cup Final will air on CBC. The sub-license will last for four years; however, in a news conference Rogers Media President Keith Pelley said that he hopes the deal with CBC can extend beyond four years. The CBC and Sportsnet will also work together to acquire and broadcast other major sports properties. Sub-licensing deals are already in place for the two networks to split the Grand Slam of Curling and 2014 FIFA World Cup.
In a letter to CBC employees President Hubert Lacroix outlined what the four-year deal means for the public broadcaster. CBC will no longer assume any control over production or content, although Sportsnet will consult with them. CBC also will not make any advertising revenue from the broadcasts; however, they also are not paying Rogers or the NHL a cent to show the games. Lacroix also notes that the loss of advertising revenue will mean job losses at the CBC. These additional cuts come on the heels of CBC Sports cutting costs just two years ago due to a lack of funding.
This is a very complex deal and there are many questions that still need asked and answered. It is a complete game-changer in Canadian sports broadcasting and will result in many changes at CBC and TSN. I’ll leave the speculation, and there is lots of it, for a later date (and the comments section). I do plan to look into the effects this deal will have on all networks, but especially the CBC, in the coming weeks.
Here is the press release:
Sportsnet today announced its 2013-14 Ottawa Senators regional broadcast schedule, featuring 54 regular season games, more than any other Canadian broadcaster. Coverage starts with the Senators season opener on Friday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. ET on Sportsnet East when they visit the Buffalo Sabres in an Atlantic Division showdown. (Click here for Sportsnet’s complete 2013-14 Senators TV broadcast schedule).
Forty-seven of Sportsnet’s regular season Senators games will air on Sportsnet East, while seven will air on the Sportsnet ONE companion channel, Sportsnet Sens.
All broadcasts will feature play-by-play announcer Dean Brown, analyst and former Stanley Cup Champion Denis Potvin and host Ian Mendes.HOCKEY CENTRAL will preview every game with a half-hour pre-game show, and will also provide intermission and post-game analysis.
Highlights from Sportsnet’s Ottawa Senators broadcast schedule include:
· Six all-Canadian matchups, including games versus Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary
· The Senators takes on the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. ET
· A visit from former Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson and the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET
· Three games versus Original Six teams in the newly realigned Atlantic Division, including Boston and Detroit
This week TSN and Sportsnet are releasing regional NHL TV schedules for the upcoming season. TSN also released its national slate yesterday. I will post links to all of the schedules, as well as the press releases.
All of Sportsnet’s 23 regular season Maple Leafs telecasts will air on Sportsnet Ontario and will feature veteran play-by-play announcer Joe Bowen, analyst and former NHLer Greg Millen and host Paul Hendrick. HOCKEY CENTRAL will preview every game with a half-hour pre-game show, and will also provide intermission and post-game analysis.
Highlights from Sportsnet’s Toronto Maple Leafs regular season TV broadcast schedule include:
· Two all-Canadian showdowns versus Edmonton and Calgary
· A matchup with 2013 Stanley Cup finalists Boston Bruins on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. ET
· Maple Leafs visit Steel City to take on Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. ET
Sportsnet keeps Toronto Maple Leafs fans connected to their home team first as the exclusive Canadian broadcaster of 24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic. The series will provide an all-access pass to the events leading up to the 2014 NHL Winter Classic, featuring the Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings playing outdoors at Michigan Stadium on the University of Michigan campus. The series will air on Sportsnet and City (broadcast schedule to be announced at a later date)
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).