National Post Report: CBC To Make Sports Budget Cuts Thursday

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.

15 thoughts on “National Post Report: CBC To Make Sports Budget Cuts Thursday

  1. $4 billion? CBC’s entire budget is not even close to $4 billion!

  2. PJ Stock, Glenn Healy, Andi Petrillo need to be the first to go

    • I can’t see them getting rid of Petrillo but if i was any reporter with Sportsnet i would be very nervus Cbc play by play people etc are far better then most Sportsnet guys.

    • Well its a given that Stock and Healy will go since CBC no longer is producing any hockey. But they will get jobs somewhere else. I think people are missing the point here. There are some fantastic amateur sports broadcasters, as well as many people who work behind the scenes, whose jobs could be cut. These people will have a more difficult time finding work than any hockey talking heads because Rogers will need lots of those.

      • It will be interesting to see what Rogers does most would say those who work for Cbc are a upgrade over most of the staff at Rogers do they clean house and hire most if not all of the fired Cbc staff it would not shock me.

  3. The English side of sports at CBC will begin to look a lot more like the French side at Radio-Canada has been for many years now since they lost La Soiree du Hockey (and they had stopped showing the Expos and CFL quite some time before that too).

    I agree, it’s not the talking puck heads who I’d be concerned for, most of them should find work elsewhere. It’s the people they still have covering amateur sports and the behind-the-scenes technicians and production people who may be impacted the most. Hopefully CBC keeps Mark Lee for what the sports they have remaining so we don’t have to hear him on Rogers produced hockey.

    • The question is, aside from Scott Russell, Brenda Irving and Steve Armitage, does CBC need to keep anyone at play-by-play/host? Obviously MacLean will still be around to do Stampede and Queen’s Plate after hockey season. They certainly prepared their news people to do Olympic coverage in Sochi.

  4. Did the amateur sports events get that good of ratings anyways? Most of those events were shown on tape-delay and did not receive very enthusiastic coverage. It’s not really a huge loss.

    • I’ve always thought that as well. Not wanting to see anyone lose their jobs obviously but I always wondered how many people actually tune and watch diving, equestrian, etc in non-Olympic times.

      • I don’t think they do too bad. Alpine skiing usually gets 100-200k viewers on CBC. The World Short Track Championships got 262, 000 on CBC in March. Here are some pre-Olympic numbers (all from Chris Zelkovich)

        Skiing, World Cup men’s downhill, Saturday, CBC: 190,000
        Skiing, World Cup freestyle, Saturday, CBC: 179,000
        Ski jumping, World Cup, Saturday, CBC: 129,000
        Skiing, women’s alpine, Saturday, CBC: 157,000
        Ski jumping, women’s, Saturday, CBC: 140,000
        Skiing, World Cup ski cross, Saturday, CBC: 117,000 (beat Arsenal-Man City on TSN)
        Figure skating, Grand Prix dance final, Saturday, CBC: 188,000
        Figure skating, Grand Prix pairs final, Saturday, CBC: 153,000
        Skiing, World Cup, Saturday, CBC: 112,000
        Bobsleigh, World Cup, Saturday, CBC: 150,000
        Alpine skiing, World Cup, Saturday, CBC: 137,000
        Figure skating, ISU Grand Prix women’s, Saturday, CBC: 237,000
        Figure skating, ISU Grand Prix men’s, Saturday, CBC: 337,000
        Figure skating, ISU Grand Prix, Saturday, CBC: 391,000
        Figure skating, ISU Grand Prix, Saturday, CBC: 239,000

        These events seem to get numbers that are comparable to/better than EPL numbers (except for matches between 2 big six clubs), as well as UFC, F1, non-Raptors NBA (and even Raptors hoops when they are bad) and non-Jays MLB. It seems figure skating gets anywhere from 200k-400k usually (with higher numbers for Skate Canada and Nationals on CTV), and just about anything else they air gets 100k-200k.

        I can’t actually find any ratings for equestrian, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen numbers in the 200-300k range for it as well. CBC doesn’t actually broadcast any other summer sports on a consistent basis anymore.

        • Thanks for the Numbers. pretty interesting. I should of known the figure skating would have a good following.

  5. A little off topic but I thought the Canadian Olympic Committee has filed an application for a 24 hours English & French language Amateur sports channel. Any news on that now that CBC is getting out of the sports business!!!

    • I don’t think it went beyond the idea stage because it depended entirely on forcing every cable/satellite/IPTV subscriber in Canada to pay for it.

      Supposedly the only sports on CBC will now be events that will make a profit, or at least not lose money.

      I think we may be seeing a lot of contraction in the TV business over the next few years, in a way similar to the print and music businesses as more people use the internet as their source for entertainment and information. The traditional broadcast/TV channel outlets are slowly becoming the less relevant middle-men between the content producers and the viewers.

      • The issue is it is alot harder to use the net as your source for entertainment now with many networks now require you to be a subscriber to access the content.

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