Nordiques to Return to Quebec? TV Implications

A report has surfaced on Twitter this evening that the Atlanta Thrashers will move to Quebec City for the 2012-13 season. The reporter is citing anonymous sources, but he says his information is solid. I am not familiar with the Tweeter, so I can not say for certain that it can be trusted. However, the information he is reporting is very solid from the media point of view. It appears that the Thrashers were considering moving to Quebec City for next season; however, because of the Canadiens monopoly on the French TV market in Canada, this is impossible if they want to have any games on TV.

It appears that Quebecor, the owners of TVA, are interested in airing Nordiques games if they do return. It is likely that Quebec City would at least have to share their market with the Canadiens in Quebec and probably Atlantic Canada. It is possible that they would be able to televise their games nationally in French as well. With the current contract RDS has with the NHL, this would be impossible. Apparently Quebecor went to the CRTC with the case (I don’ have time to see if it is in public records now, but I will) and they were denied the ability to break the RDS contract.

As I mentioned Quebecor is the owner of the over-the-air channel TVA and they also have a license to launch a new sports channel that would compete with RDS called TVA Sports. I’ve always kind of assumed that TVA would be the logical place to put Nordiques games if the team ever returned to the league. I’ve also wondered about the logistics of a second team being put in Quebec because of the RDS contract, so all of this makes a lot of sense to me. What could be really interesting is that if TVA gets involved in Nordiques games, I wonder if the NHL would be interested in getting the Stanley Cup Finals back on over-the-air TV.

The reports also mention that the upcoming contract negotiations with American broadcasts have an impact on the NHL moving teams to Canada. While Atlanta and Pheonix don’t exactly have a lot of value to US broadcasts, they have a lot more value than franchises in Winnipeg or Quebec City. An Atlanta-Phoenix Stanley Cup Final would be bad, but not terrible, for NBC, but a Winnipeg-Quebec Stanley Cup Final would be terrible.

It will be interesting to see if these reports prove to be true. It could have an impact on English contracts as well if Winnipeg and Quebec City get teams in the next couple seasons. That could add more regional coverage for CBC and even an extra 20 games or more to TSN’s schedule. I’ll comment more on those issues if and when there is some type of confirmation of these rumours. Until then, remember this is Twitter and even the mainstream media has been wrong when reporting things via Twitter. It should be noted that these claims have been disputed by many.


17 thoughts on “Nordiques to Return to Quebec? TV Implications

  1. “Until then, remember this is Twitter and even the mainstream media has been wrong when reporting things via Twitter.”

    Tell me about it.

  2. I may be wrong, but I think there was talk of Quebecor getting the naming rights to the new Quebec City NHL arena. It would make sense for TVA to go for the rights – maybe they buy the entire package to sell a part of the package off to RDS. RDS already has a small Senators package, branded as Le Hockey Des Sénateurs. Or TVA could create a PPV package, a bit like Sportsnet does with the Western teams. I don’t see there being enough content to warrant a second French all-sports network (or third if you count RIS). It would be really interesting to see what would happen with a Montreal-Quebec game – would both networks show it?

    I doubt CBC would show many games from Quebec City, unless the Leafs or Habs are visiting. The English-language fan base for the Nordiques was small, and I can’t imagine it getting bigger now. Of course, it would be another Canadian team to show in the playoffs, although even then I imagine it will be the last of the Canadian picks in the TSN/CBC series broadcast draft.

    As for the American rights holder, there’s always the possibility of a Flames-Senators Cup final, which would be horrible for them. Two new Canadian teams would probably weaken the league package a bit, mainly because they lose two markets.

    • I think that both networks would be allowed to show the games, much like how SNY and YES are both allowed to show games when the Yankees play the Mets for example.

      • When I wondered about broadcasting the Montreal-Quebec game, it wasn’t whether both networks would be allowed to show the game (I can’t imagine how one would be prohibited), it was more whether it would be wise from a business standpoint. There will be a larger-than-usual total audience in Quebec for that game, but it would be split between the two networks, and I suspect RDS would not be happy about that. Since both networks are on basic cable in Quebec, maybe an unusual level of cooperation would see RDS and TVA agreeing that only the road team broadcaster would show that game, so that each network gets equal opportunities to cash in on a massive audience.

        Could Radio-Canada have a small chance to get some games? My understanding is that they got out of hockey more because they were high-balled by RDS, then because they actually wanted to dump La Soirée du Hockey.

    • The French language market is too small for a third all-sport channel. Thus I imagine that Québecor will put Nordiques’ games on TVA.

      “I wonder if the NHL would be interested in getting the Stanley Cup Finals back on over-the-air TV.”

      Stanley Cup Finals are on CBC and NBC. Both are OTA.

      “It would be really interesting to see what would happen with a Montreal-Quebec game – would both networks show it?”

      I can not see how. As it stands now, only one network in one particular language in one particular country can show the game. Just like Leafs games on LeafTV can not be aired by Sportsnet, CBC or TSN. When Canadiens and Nordiques play each other, I assume that the right goes to the home team’s broadcaster. Thus, RDS has the rights for games played at the Bell Center and TVA has the rights for games played at Aréna P.-K. Péladeau.

      • What is the second all-sports channel? RIS doesn’t really count since it is highlights most of the time. I don’t think the French market is too small, especially if you think about having 82 NHL games a year. That can make any channel viable in Canada.

        I meant OTA French language TV. This whole article is about French broadcasting.

        This is different though. When the Ducks play the Kings, both broadcasters are able to co-exist because those teams share a market. The same would be true if the Flames and Oilers wanted to produce separate broadcasts on Sportsnet when they play each other.

  3. When does the current US Broadcast TV Deal expire?

  4. Pingback: Some Additional Wednesday Links

  5. when atlanta moves to Quebec, how would the divisions re-align? My guesses:

    Quebec to Northeast
    Buffalo to Atlantic
    Pittsburgh to Central
    Nashville to Southeast


    Quebec to Northeast
    Toronto to Central
    Nashville to Southeast

    • I think they will do this. I think they know the divisions will probably end up being re-aligned by the time Crosby and Ovechkin retires, so they will do a short-sited change.

      Quebec to Northeast
      Boston to Atlantic
      Pittsburgh to Southeast

    • I thought about it even further.

      If Winnipeg and Quebec City both get a team back, I imagine that there will be a division called “Canada East”.

      • I think Winnipeg would go to the West. I think they’d join the Northwest knocking Colorado to the Pacific. I think the NW would make more sense because they’d be with the 3 other western Canadian teams, and the closest team geographically to them (Minnesota).

  6. I believe that the Nordiques returning to Quebec would give Radio-Canada some leverage in getting back into broadcasting the NHL. And it would force RDS and TVA to cede some of their games over to them. Also, I would like to see Radio-Canada return to national French coverage of the Olympics beginning with 2014 in Stoli and 2016 in Rio. I heard that their French coverage of the World Cup soccer tournament was superlative, so we can see them getting the rights for 2018 and 2022.

    • I think that RDS would keep exclusive French national rights, especially because of their cozy ties with the Canadiens. If anything more hockey will be going cable-only on the English side, instead of more going to OTA stations.

      Radio-Canada will almost certainly have the 2014/2016 Olympics. A combined bid between CBC and Bell is the only bid I know of.

      The World Cup is kind of up in the air. CBC will probably end up bidding with Sportsnet and maybe TVA for split rights. CTV and TSN will probably also bid. Whichever is willing to pay the most money will probably get the rights.

  7. It is becoming more and more likely that the Phoenix Coyotes will relocate to Quebec City for the 2012-13 season. The NHL is unlikely to financially support the Coyotes for another season. They would play at Colisee Pepsi for two seasons while a new arena is being built.

    I hope there is some truth to this rumor!

    Vive Les Nordiques!

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