Senators Regional Games are Headed to TSN

The Ottawa Senators and Bell Media announced a new agreement this morning that will see regional television and local radio coverage of the team air on Bell-owned stations for the next 12 seasons. This is the same duration as Sportsnet’s new national broadcast agreement with the NHL. The deal includes at least 52 games on TSN and at least 40 games on RDS within the Senators regional territory, which includes eastern Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. TSN Radio 1200 retains exclusive radio rights to all games. Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

This agreement brings up several questions to Senators fans in the east. Will Bell charge extra for a TSN-Sens channel, as they do for local Winnipeg Jets games. The local Jets channel costs $10 a month (that comes out to about $1 per game). Or will Bell package the games along with TSN, as they do with regional Canadiens broadcasts, making them more accessible. Or will Bell combine the Canadiens and Senators packages, they share the same regional territory, into one regional NHL hockey package? The Jets games cost money because Bell had a pay a lot more for those rights than they did for the Canadiens rights.

Bell likely paid a significant amount for this Senators contract, considering the NHL/Rogers agreement sparked a bidding war between Bell and Rogers. So, I’d guess they will have to monetize these games in some fashion. How much money can they get considering the Senators quickly lose popularity once you cross the Ottawa River? This isn’t like Manitoba where an entire province loves the local team. The Senators have to compete with the Habs in Quebec, the Leafs in Ontario and both in the Maritimes. Indeed, even in Ottawa many fans still have ties to Montreal or Toronto.

The other looming question is what will come of longtime Senators voice Dean Brown? He has called almost every regional Senators game since Sportsnet launched in 1998. There are two possibilities for Brown. He is a Sportsnet employee and he does freelance work for the CBC. In my opinion he is a the best play-by-play announcer Sportsnet has in their ranks and deserves a spot on their new national broadcasts. Him and former partner Garry Galley would make an excellent eastern-based pairing for Rogers. While it is possible TSN could hire him to call Senators games regionally again, I think it is unlikely. Dennis Beyak will likely continue to call Jets regional games. That leaves Chris Cuthbert and Gord Miller to do the Leafs and Senators.

27 thoughts on “Senators Regional Games are Headed to TSN

  1. It has been reported the deal is 12 years $400 million with the team getting $33 million per year.

  2. I don’t care if TSN decides not to retain Denis Potvin. However, Dean Brown is the VOICE of the Ottawa Senators and here’s hoping that he continues to call Senators games on television.

  3. I think if TSN brings its own people in, there are two possibilities for Dean: he becomes the radio voice of the Sens and does all 82 games on TSN 1200. Or he lands a national role with Rogers in Eastern Canada, as Josh suggests (and I agree he’d be a great hire for them). But if that happens, no way he can do Sens radio with Bell owning those rights. That would mean the end of his run as a Sens voice. Knowing Dean and his connection to the Sens, it would an extremely tough decision for him.

    • Agreed. It might depend on how high of a position Rogers would give him. Assuming Hughson is #1, and is based primarily in the west, that could leave the #2 role to Brown. That could mean a Conference Final.

      I really hope TSN tries to get Darren Pang as their analyst. He is from Ottawa and has a history with TSN.

  4. Maybe combining the Sens and Habs’ packages could help the former since the latter’s rights would’ve been more valuable. With both the Habs and Leafs being popular in the Ottawa Valley, the Sens don’t have a whole lot of cachet on their own. I don’t know how BCE’s gonna handle the Sens regional package’s distribution from a financial standpoint.

    • I don’t think you would pay a reported $400 million just to bundle them with another team you pay that much then that team has to be on its own and theother factor is if Bell dose lose the Leafs rights if your Bell Ottawa has to be your golden egg Tsn can’t just make it go with the Habs they need a Ontario team.

  5. Here is the answer to the question of whether there will be a TSN Senators channel or not:


    The good news is Ottawa fans won’t have to pay extra to watch the Senators on TSN.

    Phil King, CTV’s president of programming and sports, said the games will be shown on the national feed.

    This is very good news for Senators fans (especially those who have Rogers)! :)

    • “Phil King, CTV’s president of programming and sports, said the games will be shown on the national feed.”

      So does this mean that, in the regional market, they will simply substitute the Sens games for whatever is being shown nationally on TSN in the rest of the nation or that the Sens games will be broadcast nationally on TSN? I assume the former but the wording is confusing.

      • If let’s say you live in Ottawa and are a Rogers Cable subscriber, you simply tune to Channel 30 and you get the games. Those who live outside the Senators viewing region would get the programming that TSN is showing nationally (such as Monday Night Football).

        • So what happens if you live in Ottawa and want to watch Monday Night Football?

          • If one is on Rogers, then those who want to watch Monday Night Football are screwed. Now if someone is on Bell TV or Shaw Direct (I am not sure how things would work on Fibe), when TSN had regional Leaf games 11 years ago, TSN would have their national programming on Channel 400. The Leaf game would have been available on Channel 401 or 402 on Bell for those who live in the Leafs region. That could be how things would work for those in Ottawa who are subscribed with Bell TV, Shaw Direct & Fibe.

          • My guess is they won’t have the games go head-to-head with big programming like Monday Night Football. In those cases they’d stick the hockey on TSN2 or something.

  6. A couple thoughts. Regional rights to the Canadiens are likely TSN’s to retain if they want since Bell also owns 18% of the Habs. I can’t imagine the games are a big draw currently being only available to Bell and Shaw customers and with Quebec being a small English market. Sportsnet likely doesn’t have any interest in them unless they want to fill some non-national game nights on Sportsnet East left by the departure of the Sens.

    I guess we’ll have to see what TSN does with its current hockey commentators. They’ll have regional Leaf games but don’t Joe Bowen and Greg Millen do all regional Leaf games regardless of what network is airing it? I remember them (and Harry Neale before Millen) working regional Leaf games in the past even when TSN had its own talent it could’ve used in theory. But I agree with Rob, I think Dean Brown likely has to go one way or the other next year by either doing Sens games on radio (and maybe tv) at TSN or working on Rogers national package which I too think he’d be a great fit for.

    • If Tsn does lose the Leafs rights i think they would move Millen and Bowen to Ottawa.

      • For the love of all that is holy, no Bowen, please.

      • Umm, what?

        TSN will have the rights to 10 Leafs games next season and 26 of them in the 2015-2016 NHL Season. Besides, Leafs games on radio are split evenly between TSN 1050 & Sportsnet The Fan 590.

      • What? TSN isn’t losing Leafs rights. And Millen/Bowen don’t even work for TSN, so why would they go to Ottawa?

        • The rights are up in 2015 and many do think Rogers will push very hard to get those rights as for MIllen/Bowen same thing with Brown/Potvin they don’t work for the network but sometime the new network wants there own people.

          • Unless Bell or Rogers decides to sell off their ownership stake in MLSE, I am pretty sure that Sportsnet & TSN will continue to split (26 games each) regionally on television as well as maintain the half & half split on radio.

          • Leafs rights aren’t up in 2015. TSN and Sportsnet have long-term deals to split the games 50/50, with 26 games each.

    • They did, but times have changed. Now that Bell has direct ownership in MLSE, there aren’t really the restrictions on them that existed before. I don’t see any way that TSN’s guys don’t do Leafs games. TSN is paying Cuthbert/Miller/Ferraro too much to not put them on the biggest games.

  7. can anyone make an informed guess at what % increase this deal involves per year over the previous one? I have a sneaking worry that with more people cutting the cord, the only way for cable companies to recoup these costs is by raising rates. Where else is the extra revenue going to come from to offset these large expenditures for content?

      • The obvious way to recoup some of the costs would’ve been to create TSN Sens and charge up the whazoo for it but apparently that’s not happening. I don’t see anyway Bell doesn’t take some kind of loss on these games.

        If Bruce’s numbers are correct, the old deal was worth $6.5M for 52 games so this is actually a fivefold increase. This name deal works out to about $635,000 per game, or $5-6 PER VIEWER based on what the Sportsnet games are drawing (low 100,000s). Just for comparison the CFL is getting about 65cents/viewer for their new contract (I assumed 650,000 average for 81 reg season games, 1.5 mil for the 4 conference games and 4mil for the Grey Cup and $40M for the contract value). Wonder if Cohon will start to get some heat for what is mostly just terrible timing.

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