This evening the National Post reported that CBC Sports will make significant cuts as a result of the loss of Hockey Night in Canada revenue to Rogers. This isn’t a surprise, I’ve heard talk of cuts at CBC Sports since the Olympics ended over a month ago. And it doesn’t take much deduction to figure out that a loss of revenue from HNIC will result in cuts elsewhere at the public broadcaster. This round of cuts at CBC Sports comes almost two years to the day after CBC Sports cut $4 million from its annual budget in light of reduced government funding. That $4 million cut resulted in CBC ending its Sports Weekend amateur sports program during the summer months, and completely eliminated coverage of many summer sports such as athletics. In fact in 2013 CBC didn’t show the World Aquatics Championships or World Athletics Championships for the first time in years.
Will CBC’s winter sports lineup take a hit this time, with the next Winter Olympics a full 4 years away? Speed Skating, alpine skiing and figure skating are the highlights of CBC’s winter lineup. Further cuts to summer programming could include Spruce Meadows equestrian, the Calgary Stampede or the Rogers Cup. Of course the CBC would have to wait until the current broadcast contracts end before they could cut cost through those events. And tennis popularity is at an all-time high in Canada with Milos Raonic and Genie Bouchard serious threats to win on home soil. So, the most immediate cuts will likely come in on and off-air talent. Senior employees such as Scott Russell, Scott Oake and Steve Armitage are probably the safest, but cuts in the sports broadcast industry are never something pleasant to write about.
Edit (April 7, 2014):
Yahoo! Finance’s Andy Raida has also published an article about the impending cuts at the CBC. Quoting Ian Morrison of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, the article seems to confirm much of what I speculated about earlier in this article. Raida reports that the cuts will equal dollar value cuts of $130 to $140 million, with around 350 English-language positions cut. Morrison adds, “In terms of programming, what I’ve heard is that they’re going to really curtail anything that has to do with sports. That’s a decision that has been made. They’re going to close down sports departments — things of that nature.”
So things do not look good for CBC’s sports department. It looks at though the private sports broadcasters could finally devour it. As I mentioned earlier, after losing hockey CBC doesn’t have many sports properties to cut. Aside for Rio 2016, the only events CBC holds rights to are the Figure Skating’s Grand Prix and World Championships (through 2016 Worlds), Alpine Skiing’s World Cup, the Rogers Cup (through 2015), Calgary Stampede (through 2015, options for 2016-17) and Spruce Meadows equestrian. I am unsure of the current contract situation for both the Queen’s Plate and the Canadian Women’s Open The CBC also sub-licenses a couple Grand Slam of Curling broadcasts a year from Sportsnet, but if Sportsnet is producing CBC’s hockey coverage, there’s no reason they couldn’t begin producing their curling as well. But I think the end-dates of these contracts makes it clear CBC could almost entirely pull out of producing sports coverage by the end of the Rio 2016.