If you’ve been on Twitter this week as the NHL pre-season begins, you may have seen the hilarity that ensued after TSN’s and RDS’s regional broadcast of Habs, Leafs, Sens and Jets games. For various reasons, people were pissed that they couldn’t see the hockey game they wanted to and instead were greeted by the dreaded ‘program is not available’ message.
A search of Twitter will bring up a lot of angry tweeters who vented their frustration (incorrectly) at TSN or RDS. Here are some of the highlights:
No more blackouts?
More channels equals more games?
Sportsnet never had blackouts apparently!
Misunderstanding of how the new TSN channels work.
Zero knowledge of how blackouts actually work.
Let’s just get this out of the way first: At times, people can be just plain stupid. That said, there are some valid reasons here as to why people are upset and confused by this whole, completely brand new “blackout” thing.
First off, Rogers can somewhat mostly be blamed for this. In their big announcement of their new national rights deal, Rogers incorrect stated there would no longer be blackouts for NHL viewers in Canada. In fact, the article on NHL.com still states “The agreement also guarantees there will be no further regionalization of games or local blackouts.” This was later clarified by Rogers and Sportsnet but it was too late for most as ‘no blackouts’ featured in numerous headlines and articles about the deal. Now viewers are pissed they can’t see a hockey game they were told they could see.
Others seem to think that by TSN adding three new channels and promising more sports, that somehow meant they would be able to watch any hockey they wanted that screened on the network. No doubt viewers were also used to seeing most games that aired on TSN in the previous seasons when they had national rights. Speaking of previous seasons, some may also be confused because they never saw regional games on their guides before. For example, if you’re in Toronto, you never saw Jets or Habs regional games as they aired on a separate network available only to those in the respective teams viewing area. For Habs French-language games, RDS previously had the national rights so viewers across Canada with RDS were able to watch. This season, RDS only has regional rights so those outside Eastern Canada are out of luck.
To their credit, both TSN and RDS have tried to help explain the situation to viewers. RDS has published a page in both English and French explaining why the blackouts aren’t their fault and the TSN Twitter account has been replying to those upset.
For now though, I’m sure people will remain angry no matter whether they are told the very reasonable explanation as to why they can’t see a game featuring a Canadian team on the other side of the country or not. Of course, in the end, you can blame the NHL for all of this for having regional television areas, but it’s not like they are the only league with a blackout policy.
— Dan (@SportsOnCdnTV)