Would CBC Take the Canucks over a Habs-Senators Series?

It seems like a very real possibility that the Ottawa Senators could play the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2013 NHL playoffs. All Ottawa has to do is beat Boston tonight. That would vault them up to 7th, and the Canadiens to 2nd. At first this seems like the elusive, dream all-Canadian matchup CBC is also looking for come April. But then again, maybe it’s not. TSN studio host James Duthie suggested he thinks CBC will select the Leafs’ and Canucks’ series on Sunday evening, regardless of if the Senators play the Canadiens or not. At first I was very skeptical, but after thinking about it and seeing how the Western Conference seedings, I’m beginning to agree with James.

The main goal for both the CBC and TSN is to attract ratings and advertising dollars. Ratings and length of series are both important. The Canucks are a proven playoff ratings earners for the CBC. The Senators, are not. The Canadiens will always result in part of their fanbase watching in French on RDS. Ottawa-Montreal averaged 870, 000 viewers on TSN in March. Also in March Vancouver-San Jose averaged 505, 000 viewers for a game only available in British Columbia on Sportsnet Pacific. While I can’t find any ratings from this year, the Canucks consistently averaged over 800, 000 viewers for games on TSN against US-based teams late last season (799, 000 vs. ANA; 824, 000 vs. LA; 856, 000 vs. DAL). Undoubtedly the Canucks can get the same type of ratings on their own that the Senators and Canadiens can muster together in English-Canada.

So, now that I’ve proven the ratings are close enough that CBC could reasonably take the Canucks over a Ottawa-Montreal series, that leads me to my second point. If CBC takes both TOR-BOS and OTT-MTL, that means they will probably end up with DET-ANA and LA-STL in the West. This is a scheduling nightmare. Of a possible 28 games, 21 take place in the Eastern or Central Timezones. Games in Detroit and St. Louis would have to air online for most of the country. CBC could only show 7 doubleheaders. Any of those that go head-to-head with the Canucks will get beaten. They might win the early timeslot every night, but they won’t post many wins at 10:00pm ET. And fans will be worse off if games in St. Louis and Detroit are only available on 1-2 regional stations in Ontario and online.

But, if CBC takes TOR-BOS and SJ-VAN, they could have an anchor for their doubleheader each night and avoid these problems. CBC would probably still take ANA-DET with the fourth pick and then either NYI-PIT or NYR-WSH later on. This would mean 17 games in the Eastern Time Zone and 11 in the Pacific Time Zone. And far less conflict, especially when Canadian teams are playing. CBC would win the late timeslot every night they have a game in it, even if going head-to-head with STL-LA on TSN. And they’d still win every early timeslot with the Leafs and probably have an afternoon game from their eastern-based US series, further reducing conflicts.

And, lastly, even going head-to-head with OTT-MTL on TSN, I think NYI-PIT or NYR-WSH will get better ratings than STL-LA. Easily. And I think CBC’s ratings as a whole would be higher. Of course criticism will come from CBC picking SJ-VAN over an all-Canadian series, but will that really matter? I think TSN had MTL-OTT around three times this season, so why not a few more? For those who have cable, it will probably mean more games on TV without needing CHEX or CBC Windsor.

19 thoughts on “Would CBC Take the Canucks over a Habs-Senators Series?

  1. Everyone on HNIC last night was pretty much openly hoping for a TOR-MTL first round series. Obviously HNIC was built around the Leafs and Habs way back when, but it would make CBC’s first round choices much easier. I agree that if Ottawa plays Montreal, I think CBC will take the TOR and VAN series regardless and will use scheduling as their justification. I think they’ll get quite a bit of heat for passing on an all-Canadian series though from other members of the press and the vocal fans on the internet. Personally I’d like to see OTT-MTL, which has always had potential to be a much more heated rivalry. Put it on TSN and give us Chris Cuthbert on the call. Plus I’m sure all the Hab fans are waiting to gobble up any remaining tickets at Scotiabank Place like they normally do when they visit Ottawa ;)

    • What is funny is people think the Leafs have a legit shot of going to the finals.

    • Cuthbert is doing the Canadian series for TSN, so yes, I agree. The Sens sent out a Tweet last night asking fans to buy tickets for games 3/4 before tonight’s game in case they play Montreal.

      • Kinda wish TSN had gotten OTT-MTL, would’ve loved to hear Cuthbert do it. I remember him calling most of the Habs run in 1993 (up to the final) working alongside the great Dick Irvin.
        The Senators jacked their ticket prices at least double as much last night after it was confirmed MTL would be the opponent and then released what appears to be hundreds of more seats than were initially available. There’s a thread on the Habs board at HFBoards about Montreal fans buying up the tickets at Scotiabank Place http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?t=1415505
        I got mine for game 6 if necessary!

    • Thing is, we have no idea what condition Sidney will be if he gets back on the ice against the Sens. He could be great, he could be invisible. TOR/MTL will be high ratings for the CBC no matter how long it goes (Sadly I see the Leafs bowing out in five, the team is playing like they have no clue what they are doing right now after the first 20 minutes of a game)

  2. If i am the Nhl my real big concern is the Islanders what if they don’t sell out and tv ratings are very poor.

  3. Changing the subject for a moment, I see the Sunday Night ballgame, Braves-Tigers is on TSN, while TSN2 has NBA playoffs, isn’t it usually the opposite? This is a first, I think, since Sportsnet sub-licenced SNB to TSN2 3 years, that it’s on TSN.

    • It is. They started doing the same with EPL last fall. Every game was on TSN2 for two seasons, then they started putting them on TSN. Unless there’s NHL, NBA Finals, CFL, NFL etc., SNB is on main TSN this year. Mind you that’s only a few weeks.

  4. The CBC will have angry viewers from western Canada, especially from British Columbia, should they not televise the Canucks series.

    • Would they? Lots of people have said they’d prefer TSN. I’d argue anger would be greater if they chose not to show an all-Canadian series.

      • The anger will go both ways. I agree that an all canadian series not being televised by HNIC will have eastern Canada viewers upset. Western viewers will be equally mad and it would make the CBC look anti-west.

    • For what it’s worth, when Gord Miller tweeted the start of the Canucks series, most of the replies were people hoping he’d confirm TSN picked up the series…

      • The CBC has regionalized Senators-Canadiens games to the Ottawa area and Quebec only. That tells viewers that the CBC thinks viewers want to see other teams. It would be surprising for the CBC to give its competitor the second largest english market.

        • I’m not saying it will happen, just that there seems to be a contingent that would rather have the Canucks on TSN than CBC.

          • The contingent who wanted the Canucks on TSN instead of CBC got their wish. The CBC chose the Canadiens-Senators series.

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