A Midsummer Night’s Blog Post

So… it’s been awhile. While the long, somewhat boring days of summer sports toll on, there has been some Canadian sports media news to report on over the past couple months since this site last saw an entry.

NHL

It’s hard to say whether the first season of NHL on Rogers was a success or not — it depends who you talk to, I guess. It certainly wasn’t for the two main French networks:

Rogers certainly didn’t reach the ratings goals they promised advertisers, thanks mostly to people giving up on cable and people streaming online. While NBC had some of the highest ratings it has seen in years for the postseason, Rogers saw a 12 percent decrease over last year. This, on top of the below-par ratings they had on and off during the regular season. It will be interesting to see how Rogers tinkers with their product during the summer — we already know Sunday’s Hometown Hockey game will be on Sportsnet and not City. Some additional reading if you missed it:

David Shoalts reported on Twitter that the Canadian operation of NHL Network would be shutting down at the beginning of September leaving 20 people unemployed. The network, run by Bell/TSN, was always a piece of trash with little live games or live programming, it wasn’t available in HD, and with the new Rogers TV deal, they lost 40 live games they did show. The US version will continue to operate out of New York.

TSN VS. SPORTSNET

TSN and Sportsnet got into a pissing contest in early June over who is the number one sports network in Canada. Sportsnet is claiming pole position via combining the viewers between their four regional channels, SN One and SN 360 versus the five of TSN in the top three key demographics for advertisers (2+, men 18–34, adults 25–54). TSN says they are numero uno based on the four regional TSN feeds versus the four Sportsnet regionals. TSN also states it is the number one specialty channel in Canada in those top three demos. Chris Zelkovich at Yahoo Sports has an excellent breakdown of it all and words from both sides. It will be interesting to see the numbers this time next year — will Rogers grow or hemorrhage viewers and can TSN keep their hockey-less numbers up by focusing on their existing major properties (CFL, soccer, tennis, motor sports) and adding some fringe sports (rugby, MMA) to their lineup.

SOCCER

If you’re a soccer fan, you probably have been blowing your load at how many soccer matches of all types from all different tournaments have been on Canadian networks in the past couple months.

TSN has already shown more coverage of international FIFA tournaments in the couple months since they obtained the rights than CBC and Sportsnet did combined during their previous years with the contract. TSN showed nearly every game live or on delay of the FIFA U20 World Cup from New Zealand with only a few matches relegated to TSN GO and over the past couple weeks featured a majority of matches from the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. They also covered the UEFA U21 Championship substantially.

The biggest even though was the FIFA Women’s World Cup being held across Canada. In obvious news, the tournament was a ratings success for CTV, TSN, and RDS. The USA vs. Japan final was watched by 2.1 million Canadian making it the most-watched Women’s WC Final ever. The Canada-England quarterfinal was the most-watched Women’s WC match ever with 3.2 million viewers and the Canadian team averaged 2.3 millions over their five games (Group: 1.6m, 1.9m, 2.1m; R16: 2.8). In other stats, nearly 60% of the country watched part of the tournament and we consumed 69 million hours of coverage collectively. That said, even with the tournament in their own backyard, TSN’s coverage seemed underwhelming compared to Fox’s. While TSN hosted a majority of the coverage from their Toronto studio, Fox had a huge set on Vancouver’s waterfront that was used for pre- and post-game coverage. Fox also managed to provide their own commentators for all games, even including some women in the pairings, while TSN only had their people covering the Canada games and the final and their women on staff were relegated to desk hosting.

Sportsnet has been covering men’s and women’s soccer from the Pan Am Games in Toronto with career freelancer Nigel Reed riding solo for every game for SN and the world feed (Meet the voice of the Pan Am soccer games). The Canadian women’s team will compete for bronze Friday night (8:30pm, SN1), the men’s bronze and women’s gold games go Saturday (1pm and 6:30pm, SN1) and ends with the men’s gold medal game on Sunday at 1pm on SN. Sportsnet also has the conclusion to the CONCACAF Gold Cup this weekend — USA vs. Panama for third place on Saturday (6pm, SN1) and Mexico vs. Jamaica for the championship on Sunday (7:30pm SN).

Sportsnet will announce later today (Friday) that they have secured the rights to the Bundesliga, the top domestic league in Germany, sub-licencing them from Fox Sports who obtained the rights back in 2013 beginning this season and running through 2020. GolTV Canada was the previous rights holder who showed a few games a week on their piss-poor excuse for a channel — it wasn’t available in HD for a majority of providers. As a result, GolTV will be shutting down at the end of August.

CSA confirms that it is looking for new broadcast partner: Sportsnet will no longer be airing matches involving the Canadian national teams after ending their contract early with the Canadian Soccer Association. The contract was due to run until the end of the year and including matches such as World Cup qualifiers and not tournament play. Canada Soccer wasn’t happy that Sportsnet couldn’t find air time in their hockey and baseball-filled schedule as well as higher-rating soccer such as the EPL. It would shock nobody is TSN were to pickup the rights to add to their vastly-growing stable of soccer programming.

5 thoughts on “A Midsummer Night’s Blog Post

  1. Hi Dan,

    I know that life has gotten in the way but are you still planning on posting Part 2 when you get a chance? Hopefully you are enjoying the summer.

  2. I’m surprised at the lack of conversation regarding the impending Canadian TV Armageddon (although that’s maybe a little too strong of a term). Losing some of what little worthwhile content that remained was certainly part of why those channels (Gol TV Canada, etc.) are shutting down, but that hasn’t really stopped channels from continuing to exist previously.

    Along with the increasing number of people abandoning cable/satellite TV subscriptions, the new pick-and-pay rules that are set to come into effect in 2016 will almost certainly lead to a large number of TV channels folding or merging, with some (Teletoon Retro, Bite, along with the ones you mentioned) seeing the writing on the wall and already throwing in the towel months ahead of time.

    While everyone expects the mainstream sports channels to continue, even they will likely lose a large percentage of their subscribers and have to react in some way, probably having to cut spending. For example, a survey in the U.S. a couple of months back had only about 36% saying they would choose to subscribe to ESPN if they were able to select individual channels. For the more narrowly-focused channels or the ones not owned by one of the big conglomerates, I don’t think there’s much hope for them surviving in Canada.

  3. On the subject of the non-mainstream sports channels, a new channel called World Sports TV Canada (wstvcanada.com) was supposed to have launched this past spring, then delayed its scheduled launch to August, and now allegedly late October according to the countdown on their website. As I mentioned above, it’s not a good time to be getting into the business of running a TV channel in Canada. This channel has Canadian TV rights for MotoGP and a few other things that no other channel wants. Other than that, there seems to be remarkably little known about it, which is a little strange for a channel that should be promoting its launch.

  4. Who will carry the rights of Brasileirao? ( Brazilian league), as goltv is shutting down.

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