Sportsnet Gains; TSN Still Wins Deadline Ratings Battle

TSN's trade-breakers

Bob McKenzie summed up the 2012 NHL trade deadline day as well as anyone. “Busy day. Maybe not for fans expecting trade action but chasing ghosts all day is hard work. Ha ha.” he commented on Twitter after Monday’s deadline passed. There were 15 trades involving 32 players and 11 draft picks yesterday. Only one 1st round picked was moved, as Nashville dealt theirs for Paul Gaustad and a 4th round pick. The biggest stars to move were former Canadian World Junior players Cody Hodgson and Zack Kassian, who switched teams. Yes, this year’s deadline, like others recently, lacked the big names moving that originally resulted in 10 hours of coverage from TSN and Sportsnet.

Many moments ranged from dull to awkward in the 20 hours of coverage between TSN and Sportsnet. Nominees for the worst moments include James Duthie’s use of a laugh track, which only made awkward jokes from other panel members more unbearable. Or maybe Alyonka Larionov reading Tweets on air, something that isn’t (and probably never will be) a good idea. Another that ranked near the top was Hazel Mae wearing sunglasses in the Sportsnet newsroom. There were others I missed, I’m sure.

By my count Sportsnet broke the most trades. Nick Kyproes was on the ball, breaking many trades while TSN was at commercial break or reading Tweets. Kyper, who has been brushed off as not a real insider in the past, led the way breaking three trades. Bob McKenzie broke two trades. Mark Spector, Pierre Lebrun, Darren Dreger, Bruce Garroich, Scott Morrison, Gord Miller and Renaud Lavoie all broke one each. By my count, that’s a total of six for Sportsnet, five for TSN and one for RDS.

Sportsnet's Stragety Room

Sportsnet also had the one panel that I thought was worth watching, their “strategy room”, which featured former general managers Pat Quinn, Neil Smith, Doug MacLean and Brian Lawton. The four of them, and host Jeff Marek, were the best at breaking down trades. They also had the best filler, as Smith and Quinn remembered making trades that helped put their respective teams (the Rangers and Canucks) into the 1994 Stanley Cup Final. It was great TV, and unlike the reading of Tweets on air, a welcome innovation on trade deadline day.

Neither of the main panels were particularly inspiring. Marty McSorely and Billy Jaffe were okay, as well Mike Johnson and Aaron Ward. Neither panel offered groundbreaking analysis, but then again there wasn’t a lot to analyze.

Johnson offered up one of the few good soundbites before noon when he said the Predators would be big buyers just seven minutes into TSN’s broadcast. Nashville then went on to make two of the biggest trades of the day.

The ratings reflected Sportsnet’s improved broadcast. TSN still won the day with an average of 259, 000 viewers tuning in (using BBM overnight numbers). That number is down from last year’s overnight number of 268, 000. Sportsnet made big gains though, with an approximate average of 98, 000. That number is up from an overnight average of 72, 000 last year.

Evidently Sportsnet’s improved coverage worked, kind of. Offseason additions Morrison, Marek and Chris Simpson were key to Sportsnet’s broadcast. Sportsnet’s best bet to improve their ratings again is to keep most of their features, while maybe changing a couple of analysts.

TSN, however, will have to make a few changes to keep pace with Sportsnet, as far as content goes at least. After Sportsnet introduced a western panel in past seasons, TSN followed suit this year. Now they will have to add a GM panel. Use Steve Kouleas and Craig Button, then add in a couple of others, and TSN would have a panel that could at least compete with Sportsnet’s.

With overall ratings up, coverage almost certainly won’t be reduced next season.

People watch curling…  This year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts once again proved that the common myth that nobody watches curling is wrong. An average of 1 million watched the final between BC’s Kelly Scott and Alberta’s Heather Nedohin. 633, 000 watched a meaningless 3rd place game between Manitoba and Quebec. That number is slightly down from 1.08 million for last year’s final.

Oilers fans miss out… Due to TSN’s Wednesday night NHL exclusive window, Edmonton Oilers fans will miss out on the first 20 minutes of the Blues-Oilers game on Wednesday. Many are blaming Sportsnet, who certainly are not at fault as their hands are tied. You could blame TSN for not picking the game up, but why would they want to show a game where they’d have to air the first period on TSN2? They only get 10 Oilers games a year. The Oilers scheduled the game as late as they felt comfortable, 8pm local. The Toronto-Chicago game, which is on TSN, starts at 7pm Central/8pm Eastern. The NHL should have forced that game to begin at 6:30pm CT, which would allow Sportsnet to show the entire Oilers game.

14 thoughts on “Sportsnet Gains; TSN Still Wins Deadline Ratings Battle

  1. I have to agree that they should have started the TOR-CHI game at 7:30 pm et. It sucks that Oilers fans have to miss part of the first period of their team’s game tomorrow night. While those who reside outside of Oilers territory (and those in Calgary & Southern Alberta if Oilers games are blacked out there) will get to see the game in it’s entirety if they have NHL Centre Ice.

  2. i think sportsnet had the better live coverage online, faster updates and faster loading time online. But TSN had a better trade tracker, better talk about the day and better online graphics. Great blog Check out
    betweenthelineshockeyandbaseball.wordpress.com

  3. the NHL also could have told Sportsnet that they could air the game in its entirety as an exception to TSN’s exclusivity

    • That would violate the NHL’s contract with TSN so no they could not.

      Typically Oilers avoid Wednesday games for this reason. The Oilers should have moved start time to 8:30 local and aired the game in its entirety.

      BTW, SNET had the similar exclusivity (but on Tuesdays) when they had the NHL National TV contract around 1998.

      Of course CBC has had it for a bizallion years.

  4. More people are blaming TSN than Sportsnet. The non-televised Senators-Panthers game two weeks ago was blamed on TSN as well. The same thing happened last year on Wednesday, March 2, (exactly 52 weeks ago) with the Flames. The Flames-Blackhawks game had the first twenty minutes missed on Sportsnet West due to the Penguins-Leafs game on TSN. The Blackhawks game started at 2000h, 8:00pm Central time, an hour later than normal to minimize the television conflict.

    It is bad planning on TSN to not have this game on TSN2 because they could have had a doubleheader on that channel. The Penguins-Stars followed by the Blues-Oilers. The Oilers were on TSN2 two seasons ago.

    For those with Centre Ice outside the Sportsnet West area, there is a very good chance that the game will be seen in its entirety. The Blues feed will be used until Sportsnet is on the air. This happened last year with the Flames game.

    • “For those with Centre Ice outside the Sportsnet West area, there is a very good chance that the game will be seen in its entirety. The Blues feed will be used until Sportsnet is on the air. This happened last year with the Flames game.”

      Those outside the Sportsnet West area (excluding Manitoba where Oilers games are blacked out) will definitely see the entire game if they have Centre Ice. I thought that the Sportsnet feed of the game was shown out of market with the Flames game this time last year until the TSN exclusive window was finished. Interesting to know that NHLCI will use the Blues feed (FS Midwest) tonight until Sportsnet is on the air.

    • Poor planning by TSN? How? Why would they want to take 1 of the 10 Oilers games they can show all season and put it on TSN2, overlapping with a Leafs game on the main network? And that’s assuming that any of those 10 games can air on TSN2, which I am far from convinced of.

      Two years ago, before Sportsnet had right to every non-Saturday Oilers game (except 10 on TSN), TSN2 aired a bonus 11th game. Under the current contracts, that can’t happen because rights of that game go to Sportsnet. If Sportsnet choose not to show the final 2 hours of the game, then presumably TSN could put it on TSN2.

      • The advertising that TSN does in saying that Wednesday is the destination night for the NHL on TSN. It contradicts itself by not doing more doubleheaders on Wednesdays. The two networks could have traded games back in September. There are other Oiler weeknight games on TSN that Sportsnet West could have televised in exchange for tonight’s game.

        It is terrific that TSN waved its exclusivity for tonight’s Oilers game.

        • The reason TSN doesn’t do more doubleheaders is because spreading games out results in higher ratings. Showing hockey and SportsCentre on two nights is better than showing hockey and hockey one night, then poker and SportsCentre on another.

  5. Does RDS cover trade deadline day, Josh? Like, in a blanket way, resembling the English networks at all?

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