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).