Details of New CFL on TSN Deal

Was so busy last week I barely even had time to look at the press release for TSN’s new CFL deal. So, here are some of the details. And while you read, here is music history from Saturday night. Blur’s Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon played their song “Tender” with Noel Gallagher of Oasis, officially ending of of music’s biggest rivalries, I guess. It was either great, or worse than sipping champagne at 10 Downing, depending on who you are.

  • It’s a 8-year deal that runs through the end of the 2018 season and includes every regular season and playoff game for TSN, RDS (Alouettes and playoffs) and RDS2.
  • Also includes radio rights for the Grey Cup for TSN Radio and TEAM radio stations.
  • Otherwise it seems everything is basically the same as before. The schedule will expand to 81 games next season when Ottawa rejoins the league, an increase from 73 this season.
  • The CFL’s exclusive negotiating window with TSN ended at the end of January. The CFL wanted an exclusive deal with Bell.
  • The guarantee of Canadian markets facing Canadian markets in every game was important for TSN.
  • Cohon thinks it gives the CFL the dollar guarantee that allows it to invest in new infrastructural and ideas.
  • TSN’s Stewart Johnston on the prospect of moving the Grey Cup to CTV, “Well we love our parent network at CTV, but I can tell you honestly, it wasn’t once discussed. We love what the Grey Cup has done for the TSN brand in the past five years.” It’s not a problem for the CFL, as I’ve mentioned before.
  • You can listen to Johnston and Cohon on TSN Drive with Dave Naylor from last week here. I wish I had more to say about it, but it’s really more of the same.

March Madness… TSN’s March Madness coverage continues to have both bright spots and some real annoyances for viewers. The features on Canadian players are great. Dan Shulman and Sam Mitchell are great on the studio panel. Host Kate Beirness is really growing into the job. And best of all TSN barely showed any of the games that were on CBS over the weekend. Not only that, but Beirness and the bottomline directed viewers to watch CBS. Meanwhile TSN and TSN2 focused on games that were broadcast on cable channels TBS, TNT and TruTV in the States. The only thing I found poor about TSN’s coverage was the constant flipping of games from TSN to TSN2. It got confusing. And while the bottomline said which game was on CBS, it never mentioned what games were broadcast on the other network. At the opening of each broadcast it was never really revealed which games TSN would show and which ones would air mainly on TSN or TSN2. A little more consistency in leaving one game on the same network would be nice, instead of constantly switching at halftime.

Soccer… 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying continues tomorrow. Before getting to what’s on tomorrow, GolTV deserves credit for using the RTE Irish domestic commentary of the Sweden v. Ireland game on Friday evening. Despite audio troubles in the first five minutes, it was a lot better than their usual annoying American commentators calling the match off a screen from Florida.

But on to the more interesting matter. England travels to Podgoric to face Group H leaders Montenegro in a key qualifying match tomorrow night. International broadcasts of the match, originally marketed for by Kentaro, have taken an interesting turn. GolTV shows Kentaro matches in North America. This game was one of the biggest in the package of qualifiers that GolTV purchased from Kentaro last year. However, the Montenegro FA recently pulled out of their contract with Kentaro. With that GolTV lost rights to the match and it will now air on Sportsnet.

A similar situation occurred in England where ITV nearly lost rights to the match after paying Kentaro an upfront fee for it. Kentaro still claims (or at least claimed as of last week) to hold international rights to Montenegro home matches internationally. GolTV in the US included it on their broadcast schedule as recently as the weekend. GolTV in Canada still does. The Guardian has an interesting article on the situation. It also explains why Brazil’s World Tour matches have disappeared from GolTV this season, as Kentaro has lost rights to those as well. No word yet on how this affects GolTV’s coverage of Ireland v. Austria tomorrow evening. The match was originally scheduled for tape-delay at 6pm ET; however, with this development it could air live at 4:45pm ET. In other action tomorrow evening France and Spain battle for the top spot in Group I on Sportsnet ONE.

MLB… The 2013 Jays broadcast schedule is out. 20 games will air exclusively on Sportsnet ONE. Most of those are due to NFL or Memorial Cup conflicts. Because of regional hockey conflicts another ten games in April will air on different combinations of the Sportsnet channels (six of those are also on ONE). The other 132 games will air on all four regional channels. I also have Sportsnet’s MLB schedule (I’ll post it later this weekend when I get the chance). Sportsnet ONE has close to 90 other MLB games, while the regional channels will combine for around 175 games. TSN2 has Sunday Night Baseball again. By my count there are over 450 games on Canadian TV this season, not including American networks like FOX or WGN.

23 thoughts on “Details of New CFL on TSN Deal

  1. I have to disagree with the march madness stuff about flipping, I think its the best coverage when its constant game action and minimal studio time. Back when the score had it they did an awesome job with flipping throughout the games focusing on the close ones coming down to the wire. That’s one thing I think TSN is better off doing, showing the tight finishes on TSN and having the other games going on TSN2.

    • I like the flipping too. I love being able to view close games that go right down to the wire. However, it was confusing when a game would start out on TSN (Game A for example), and then at half time they’d switch to a game (Game B), which was just starting. They would then continue to show Game B, even after Game A resumes. Without telling the viewers, the second half of Game A would be shown on TSN2. This happened at least three times.

  2. That 450 games includes the Jays, right? Even so, that’s great coverage!

    And agreed on the March Madness coverage. Kate’s been doing really good and Mitchell is a great get for TSN. I hope they do something similar for the NBA Finals (or even conference finals!) with Mitchell and maybe Shulman.

    • Yeah, MLB on Sportsnet, Jays on Sportsnet and Sunday Night Baseball.

      Probably hard to get Shulman for the Finals since baseball season is underway (and usually 2-3 Finals games are on Sunday night too). Mitchell would be great though. And I’d replace Black with Beirness too.

  3. In the details of the CFL release, what do you mean by this:

    “The guarantee of Canadian markets facing Canadian markets in every game was important for TSN.”

    Hasn’t every CFL game since 1996 been a Canadian market facing a Canadian market? Am I missing something?

    And I’m waiting for the inevitable “why is the Super Bowl on CTV but the Grey Cup isn’t” comments…

    • Just in comparison to every other sports property (NHL, Jays, Raptors etc.)

      • Ahhh… Gotcha. In that case, you make a good point.

        Do you think that having this contract run through 2018 means that any East Coast expansion will occur in 2019 at the earliest? Not that it is likely, but I’d heard rumblings that if everything fell in place in Quebec City or Moncton, the end of the decade could be a feasible target to gain a team.

  4. I think you blew it or at the very least understated it when you say everything is the same for the CFL deal. Such as no mention of $$$ for the deal in your post. This is at least a double from the previous deal.

    It basically changes the business model for the CFL – no team should lose money, makes it attractive for potential new owners such getting rid of one Braley owned team or new owners for new teams, expand roster, increase salary cap &/or invest in new stadium infrastructure.

    • Yeah, dollar value is great. I did mention that the CFL liked the guaranteed $ for the next 6 years, which would allow for more infrastructure. When I said everything’s the same, I just meant in terms of TSN’s coverage.

  5. Regarding Blue Jays/MLB TV broadcast arrangements — remember it changed a month or two into the season a few years ago when Rogers launched Sportsnet One. It could change again this year when Rogers’ acquisition of The Score is approved.

    Wouldn’t the Sportsnet One name be a better fit for the more widely available national channel now known as The Score, with the present Sportsnet One becoming Sportsnet Two or some other name?

    Any word or hint yet regarding what might happen in Canada because of the format change in the US of Speed to Fox Sports 1? Its been three weeks since the official confirmation, after a year of stories stating it would happen with no denial from Fox. Surely Bell, Rogers, Shaw, etc., knew it was coming and must have some idea by now of what, if anything, they will do with Speed/FS1?

    • I think theScore will be rebranded with a different name, maybe Sportsnet News or something. ONE is a channel and brand they’ve worked hard on for the past few years, I don’t think they’d just throw it away. Plus it would confuse people. No Jays games are airing on theScore this season.

      As far as FS1, it would be up to somebody (like TSN or Sportsnet) to file a complaint with the CRTC that the new service is competing directly with them, which isn’t allowed. Hasn’t happened yet, that I know of at least.

  6. What would happen if ESPN decided to show the Jays on Sunday night baseball? Would it air on TSN, Sportsnet, or both?

    • Sportsnet, I’d suspect. Canadian broadcasts always take precedence. Like when the Raptors were on ABC the other year and it was on theScore or something (with Raps broadcast) instead of CHCH. Remember Sportsnet sub-licenses SNB to TSN. They’d never give up a Jays game I don’t think.

      • When does Sportnets rights to SNB end? One would think that ESPN would not be interested in letting Sportsnet have the rights this time around. Also, have TSN’s Blue Jays rights ended or could they “pull a Sportsnet” and yank back the rights to their allotment of games until it is time to re-up the way Sportnet can do with SNB games.

        • ESPN doesn’t sell rights to Sunday Night Baseball in Canada. MLB does, along with the Jays. So ESPN has no say. Sportsnet and MLB more or less have a deal that Sportsnet always gets exclusive MLB rights.

          TSN’s Jays contract ended the day they agreed to give Sportsnet back the 20 games they had. Sportsnet only shows Sunday Night Baseball when TSN and TSN2 have other programming.

          • Thanks for the quick response. My follow up question would be when does TSN’s SNB contract end? One would think Sportsnet would be eager to become the exclusive home to MLB in Canada other than WGN-TV and FOX. Hypothetically, could TSN buy the rights to SNB directly from MLB once their current deal with Sportsnet ends or do the have to go through Sportsnet? You made it clear ESPN has no say in this discussion however you did not make it clear whether Sportsnet has the “contractual” rights to everything MLB automatically or if the so happen to own a bunch of different MLB rights and are “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” the exclusive MLB outlet in Canada.

            • I think TSN’s rights are up after this season. And all MLB rights are sold in one package in Canada, so it would be up to Sportsnet to sub-license the games back to TSN. Whether they’d do so would probably depend on whether there’s anything in it for them. I think Sportsnet doesn’t mind having SNB on a different channel because it (almost) never conflicts with Blue Jays games and they can show any other game they want all season. For example a Red Sox-Yankees weekend series, Sportsnet still gets to show 2/3s of it even if a game is on SNB.

              • How do the foreign RSN games get packaged?Does Sportsnet pay everyone from NESN to YES to Root Sports or is that also part of their “package” of games bought straight from the league? If the games are bought from each RSN could NTV hypothetically buy the rights to air every Red Sox game not already scheduled to air on TV or would they need to fly it by the Blue Jays (Rogers) first? Also, if the MLB sold the rights to all the games aired in Canada where the heck did the Mariners disapear to in 2012? By the way thanks Josh for answering my earlier questions, as a really casual baseball fan I don’t pay nearly as much attention to the sport as you and others on this site do.

                • The RSN games are packaged with everything else. Sportsnet buys rights to every game (in theory at least) from the league. I think the Mariners are the exception. BC is actually part of their home territory, so it is up to them to sell rights there, as far as I know. It wasn’t that long ago that Mariners games on Sportsnet Pacific were blacked out everywhere else.

                  • So basically any Mariners game not picked up by Sportsnet Pacific is totally unavailable to subs in BC as they are in the Mariners/Blue Jays “home territory”. Sounds like a lose-lose situation to me.

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