TSN released its annual end of year/”look at how well we did, again” press release on Friday. It was chock full of the usual things. 85% of Canadians watch sports each month (okay, that’s actually interesting), TSN is the most watched specialty channel, TSN’s audience is 62% larger than Sportsnet’s, TSN2 is the third most watched sports channel, football and Olympic ratings were great, lots of people watched the NHL last time they played and tennis had surprisingly good ratings. TSN also signed new broadcast deals with the Australian Open and Barclays Premier League.
However, there was one section of the press release that stood out. TSN will benefit more from the MLSE purchase than Sportsnet. The press release didn’t come out and say it, but based on the information within it is fairly clear. TSN will have 50% of all regional Maple Leafs (if they ever play again) and Toronto FC regional matches. TSN also gets 50% of all Raptors broadcasts. On the face of it everything looks equal, so why does TSN benefit more?
The Maple Leafs sell 52 of their games for regional broadcast. Under the new agreement Leafs TV is out of the live game business completely. Under the current deal Sportsnet shows 29 of those, Leafs TV shows 13 and TSN shows 10 (for which they have a special deal that removes regional restrictions). Under the new deal TSN and Sportsnet will each show 26. Leafs TV is completely out of the live game business. TSN also broadcasts 7 Leafs games as part of its national broadcast deal. CBC has 23. That means TSN will now have more Leafs regular season games than any other broadcaster. Sportsnet loses three games per season.
TSN and Sportsnet will also split Raptors games, with each broadcaster getting 41 during the regular season. This is technically a win for Sportsnet, as they go up from 35 games. TSN loses six in return. But it isn’t all bad for TSN considering the Raptors are struggling to break 100, 000 viewers many games this season. The Leafs usually pull in close to (or over) a million on TSN. I don’t think they are too concerned with turning in six Raptors games for sixteen Leafs games. It is still unknown where other NBA coverage that MLSE sells in Canada, such as the All Star Game and Finals, will air under the new ownership.
TSN broadcasts 18 Toronto FC matches as part of their MLS broadcast deal. TSN and Sportsnet will divide the other sixteen, with each taking 8. That gives TSN more than three-quarters of all TFC matches. Technically both networks gain TFC matches though. Sportsnet had six matches this past season while TSN only had two regional games through a sub-license with GolTV. If losing La Liga was the first sign of the demise of GolTV Canada, losing close to twenty hours of live original Canadian programming c0uld put an end to Canada’s only non-premium all-soccer channel. It’s hard to see the channel surviving on Bundesliga and all-American MLS matches. And, as I said, Sportsnet adds two matches while TSN adds six. Another win for TSN.