For many figure skating fans in Canada, the sport is returning home this fall. CTV and TSN have signed on with Skate Canada to be the sport’s primary carrier in Canada. Beginning this fall, for the next ten years CTV and TSN will broadcast Skate Canada International (usually in September or October) and the Canadian Figure Skating Championships (in January). The 2014 and 2018 Canadian Figure Skating Championships are included in the deal. Those two events serve as the Olympic Trials for the 2014 and 2018 Olympics respectively. CTV, TSN and TSN2 will all air coverage. Fans can expect Thursday/Friday coverage to air on TSN and TSN2, with coverage Saturday night and Sunday afternoon/evening on CTV.
While it hasn’t been confirmed who TSN will use as commentators, it is a solid guess to assume that Dave Randorf will be back to host and Rod Black will resume his long time CTV duties as figure skating play-by-play. Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, who worked both the last time CTV had figure skating in 2007, and on CTV’s 2010 Olympic coverage are likely to be involved as analysts. I think CTV will bring in Tracy Wilson (unless CBC retains ISU events) as their dance analyst. Liz Manley or Jennifer Robinson could be involved as well.
It is unclear whether this contract will allow for TSN to gain ISU events, such as Grand Prixs and the World Championships. If CBC wants those events back then they will have to bid on them though. In the past they were part of their Skate Canada deal. Figure skating tends to be one of the highest rated winter sports on Canadian TV, usually only behind hockey and curling, so it would probably be smart of TSN to get the Grand Prixs and World Championships, even if they just plan on using NBC’s coverage and sticking it on TSN2.
This is just the latest blow to CBC Sports. Their benchmark events 5 years ago included curling’s Seasons of Champions, the CFL, Hockey Night in Canada, the Olympics and Figure Skating. They are now only left with Hockey Night and many wonder if they will still have that in five years.
Here is a quote from Phil King, President, CTV Programming and Sports
As we saw at Vancouver 2010, figure skating has a special place in the hearts of Canadians. We all take pride in the incredible performances of stars like Patrick Chan, Joannie Rochette, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Bell Media is thrilled to bring figure skating back to CTV and give fans all of the excitement, style and drama across multiple platforms and programs.
And a quote from William Thompson, CEO, Skate Canada
Following a competitive process to determine our broadcast partner, we are obviously very excited about reaching this 10-year agreement with Bell Media because of the myriad of new opportunities it offers. With such a dedicated, professional team providing full network coverage through CTV, TSN and RDS, figure skating fans will have many opportunities to see our athletes competing. We’re also energized about the business initiatives that will be a natural outcome of this relationship, and the possibilities for sponsorship, advertising and branding across such a wide range of television and digital platforms.