Sportsnet Announces Details of their NHL Coverage Plan

This afternoon Rogers announced the first major details of how their suite of channels and platforms will cover the NHL beginning in the fall. Sportsnet is promising 500 games per season (it is unclear if this includes regional games in the west, or not). Rogers will have three signature windows. Hockey Night in Canada will continue on Saturday nights, with up to 7 games broadcast on CBC, City, Sportsnet, SN1, SN360 and FX Canada. 3-5 games will air in the 7pm ET timeslot, with 1-2 following at 10pm ET. Rogers is also adding a second national over-the-air timeslot on Sunday when City will show a game at 7:30pm ET, with a pre-game show a half hour before.

Saturdays will continue as the cornerstone of hockey broadcasting in Canada. Rogers is promising more than 130 games, which is an average of 5 per week. Anywhere between four and seven games will air each Saturday, with a guaranteed three games at 7pm ET and one or two more at 10pm ET. There is also the option for matinees. Sportsnet’s extended pregame show will begin at 5pm ET. It looks like about four games featuring Canadian teams will air every Saturday, for a total of about 100 games. That leaves 30 or more games featuring a pair of American teams.

Rogers is branding City’s Sunday broadcast as “Hometown Hockey”. The broadcasts will originate from local community rinks across the country. I think showing Sunday’s game on City is a fantastic idea as the network looks to make a dent on CTV and Global. City’s highest rated weekly program is usually How I Met Your Mother, which pulls in around 1.5 million viewers on Monday nights. However, the Grammy’s, a Sunday night broadcast last week, pulled in almost 3 million viewers. It was the highest rated program in Canada between January 20-26. CTV and Global have consistently beat City for Sunday ratings over the years. Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE will also show games on Sundays. If I had to guess, these will be NBC simulcasts.

With all of the change in the new contract, Wednesdays will mostly remain as they air now (with games on Sportsnet instead of TSN). Sportsnet will show 30 games on Wednesday nights, including a few doubleheaders. This is almost identical to TSN’s current Wednesday Night Hockey schedule. Sportsnet ONE will show NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry matchups, just as TSN2 does now.

Thursday night games will air on Sportsnet 360, featuring American teams. I believe this was originally announced as a Friday package. Rogers hasn’t announced how many games will air on SN360 on Thursday; however, one game per week will equal out to about 25 per season. The most interesting thing about this package is that NBCSN does not show games on most Thursdays. This means that Sportsnet will either produce games featuring two American teams, or rely on local US broadcasts. Considering Rogers wants to look professional and have a world class broadcast, I hope they opt for the former.

One burning other burning question was answered today, even if only in a limited way. Many fans are wondering how many times they can see their favourite team on national TV under the new deal. Sportsnet announced that 40 Leafs games will air nationally on CBC, City and Sportsnet. That is the same number as TSN (17) and CBC (23) combine to show under the current contract. Since TSN has rights to 60 regional Jets games, about 22 of their games will air on national TV. Up to 30 Senators games can air on CBC/Rogers channels. However, it is still unknown how many times other Canadian teams will get on national TV.

The number for the Canadiens is somewhat dependent on where their regional rights land. Rogers has announced that TVA will air 22 Canadiens games, with most of them likely to air on Saturday nights. But surely Rogers will get to show at least a few games on Sunday and Wednesday, even if RDS makes Tuesday its main night to show regional Canadiens games. Under the current contract around 45 Canadiens games air on CBC and TSN each season.

Since Sportsnet owns rights to all 82 games for each of the Canucks, Oilers and Flames (regionally and nationally), it is also still unknown how many times each of these teams can air nationally. However, based on regional contracts, Rogers can show at least 24 games for each. If i had to guess, Rogers will show each team at least 30 times since the Senators regional contract allows for that number of national telecasts.

Next I plan to break down Sportsnet’s promise of 500 games nationally. 100 of those are US vs. US matchups on Sportsnet 360 or Sportsnet ONE. A total of 52 are “Hometown Hockey” on City and Wednesday night games on Sportsnet. Around 100 will probably feature Canadian teams on Saturdays (remember some of the 130 Saturday games are also counted in SN360/SN1’s 100 games). That leaves 250 games unaccounted for.

50 thoughts on “Sportsnet Announces Details of their NHL Coverage Plan

  1. Won’t the blackouts on regional Rogers games be lifted so that those games can be seen in other regions?

    • No. They can’t do that. The PR explicitly says that 13 Leafs games will air regionally. The regional restrictions are to protect the home territories of the teams, so it would be a threat to the Jets, Senators and Canadiens if they could do this. That’s why TSN can’t show all their Jets and Habs games nationally too.

      • So how is this deal going to be so good for us?

        • There will be more games on national TV than before. Sunday games on a channel that doesn’t cost money (City). More Saturday games available available without needing CBC Ottawa, CBC Montreal etc.

          Basically right now there are 2 games on OTA TV per week (usually), both on CBC. Now CBC will still have 2 games + 2 more on City. Wednesday games just switch from TSN to Sportsnet.

          But assuming you already get everything that’s on the local CBC stations and TSN/TSN2, there really isn’t that big of a difference. Except more games with 2 US teams.

      • But it is just for the English-language right, right? For French-language, RDS shows all Canadien games nationally, which makes each game unclear whether it is national or regional game.

  2. you think centre ice may be done with? or possibly turn into centre ice light, etc?

    • Doubt it will be done with. Each team will still have half of their games (or more) on regional TV. So a Jets fan in BC or a Canucks fan in Ontario will still want Centre Ice. Not to mention that many US vs. US games will still only air on CI.

      • I can see Rogers really hiking the rate on Centre Ice (and the Game Centre Live) package though. They have to get their money back somehow.

        My biggest fear, now that Rogers will be responsible for the online Game Centre Live production in Canada, is that they really reduce the content of it while upping the rates. As it stands right now with GCL, I can watch everything, sans Leafs games and national NHL broadcasts for $150 a season. I can’t see Rogers letting that stand untouched.

    • I doubt it / I hope not. Plenty people up here that support US teams who pay for Centre Ice and/or Game Centre.

      • Sabres and especially Red Wings fans will still need it to see their teams’ entire schedules, so there’s one reason to not greatly reduce the content on either CI or GCL. The Sabres’ Canadian TV deal covers roughly 50 games, but there’s no guarantee that the Rogers suite (either on its own or through the CBC) would pick up the bulk of the other 32 for the franchise’s Southern Ontarian fans.

  3. This could be good news for Winnipeg/Ottawa and the 2 Alberta teams as they should get far more national games.

  4. >Thursday night games will air on Sportsnet 360

    Well, if Sportsnet did a terrible job of showing NCAA football games on Thursday night last year, it’s going to be basically non-existent this year.

    • Yeah the way this new contract is structured, Rogers has basically bid farewell to broadcasting NCAA football since there are really no spots to put it.

    • At least TSN/TSN2 will have no reason not to show all the Thursday games now.

      • Yeah I am guessing TSN (and especially TSN2) will show a lot more college football this year and probably will pick up the Thursday night ESPN package. How much of it they show I can’t begin to guess.

      • I am not very optimistic on this. It seems like Bell sends some of the college games – as proven during bowl season – to the US College Sport premium specialty channel. So who knows, it may be the case with Thursday night.

        • It isn’t simply a case of Bell wanting to put the games on their premium package. TSN/TSN2 aired all of the games that it could, but many of them conflicted with other programming (World Juniors, NHL, Raptors etc.), so those games were left off. That allows both Bell and Rogers to pick them up for their NCAA packs.

        • Just because TSN could pick up the Thursday night package doesn’t mean they will air it. Sportsnet showed that with how they treated that package and the FOX college football package they acquired rights to. I think you will see more Saturday games on TSN2 is what I am saying. But yes, the premium package will become even more important unless something drastic changes and it will probably go up in price.

          • It would be nice if TSN or TSN2 would pick up Thursday night college football this fall. It would also be great if the premium package would include games from Fox Sports One. The main TSN feed aired some college football games last fall (even had a tripleheader one Saturday) which was awesome. Hopefully TSN will do some of those again this year.

    • “Well, if Sportsnet did a terrible job of showing NCAA football games on Thursday night last year, it’s going to be basically non-existent this year.”

      If you would like to see networks such as Fox Sports One & the ESPN Networks here in Canada, fill out this survey and make your voices heard:

  5. Did Rogers give up their Sunday NFL games (on City and Sportsnet) simply because they no longer had room to carry them and the NHL games, or would they have preferred to keep the NFL games and found some other way to fit NHL into their Sunday schedule if they had to?

    • Bell now as the full Sunday Nfl pack.

    • The time windows overlap through October, November and December, if that’s what you’re asking.
      Rogers had to always carry two of the late afternoon NFL games, essentially one of them on CityTV with the other on the main Sportsnet channel for each region. At least one of the NFL games would kick off at 4:25 pm and usually not end until almost 8 pm. I assume the NFL would not accept being dumped to Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 360, so Rogers had to say goodbye to the NFL soon after they signed the new NHL deal, and it did not take very long before Bell (CTV/TSN) snapped up late Sunday afternoon NFL games.
      Probably a good choice for Rogers with the ratings hockey attracts in Canada.

      If the Thursday NHL games are on Sportsnet 360, is Rogers keeping the Thursday NFL games?

    • I’m not sure honestly. It’s really the 2 hour pregame show on Sportsnet that they dropped them for. They could have bumped the game on City by 30 minutes and had both. I don’t think it really matters because TSN probably would have outbid Rogers for them anyway.

  6. Does this mean that Citytv will forfeit its Sunday night regular shows? As of now it has The Bachelor, Revenge and Betrayal.

  7. The Leafs are on HNIC 25 times this season, two of those games were on weekdays. In total, they are on national television 42 times.

    Previous seasons had the Leafs on 41 national games due to the HNIC season opener on a weekday.

    I would like to see the Saturday 1900h, 7:00 PT time slot have two games all the time.

  8. I would like to see them move the early games to 6:00 pm and have the later games at 9:00 pm eastern on Saturdays.

    • 7 pm & 10 pm eastern time on Saturday Nights has pretty much been the usual puckdrop time for nearly 20 years now. There’s no need to change that. If there’s one thing that I would like to see changed for next season, it would be during the occasional tripleheader where the first game starts at 1, 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon changed to a 4 pm eastern start time.

      • Many do complain about the 10:00 as those in the east can’t stay up that late and if the league want to create new fans having the game start at 9:00 would help.

        • The NHL world doesn’t revolve around the east coast. 6pm start times would work as poorly on the west coast as they do on the east, which is why there isn’t any.

          • A 6:00 pm game could appeal to many not saying its perfect but its a idea.

            • A 6 pm game would not appeal to many (myself included). Why mess with the traditional 7 pm start time?

              • I don’t see how moving the games earlier would help any. There’s a reason almost all games in the NHL start between 7 and 8 local.

                • You’re right, 7 to 8 is the best time any day of the week. Sundays are the exception. Don’t forget reidjr, the double headers used to start at 4:30 PT, 7:30 ET and then at 7:30 PT, 10:30 ET. It worked but the problem with that meant the games in Edmonton, Calgary, Phoenix, and Denver were at 8:30 MT. I forget which year the games changed to 4 & 7, 7 & 10 PT/ET. An hour earlier would only benefit the MT zone.

                  • “I forget which year the games changed to 4 & 7, 7 & 10 PT/ET. An hour earlier would only benefit the MT zone.”

                    I can’t remember the exact year but I am going to guess either the 1995-1996 or 1996-1997 season. Josh or someone else who is 100% sure can confirm. :)

                    • 1994-1995 (post lockout) start times were 7:30 and 10:30 ET. Prior to that there were no double headers and the start time for the games were of course 8PM.

                    • Before the 1995 season there were the occasional doubleheaders due to Wayne Gretzky playing for the Kings. The game times on HNIC were at 1700h and then at 1930h PT.

                      The 1630h and 1930h PT doubleheader times were from the 1995 season to the end of the 1997-98 season.

                      From the beginning of the 1997-98 season and onwards, the times are at 1600h and 1900h PT.

                    • A correction on when the current doubleheader times began, it was the beginning of the 1998-99 season and onwards, the times are at 1600h and 1900h PT.

                    • SJ Sharks inaugural game was the back half of a HNIC doubleheader with a 11PM ET start, IIRC.

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