TSN’s Multi-Sheet Coverage of 2015 Tim Hortons Brier

TSN’s multiple feeds will be used for multiple curling draws for the first time with the upcoming Tim Hortons Brier that begins this weekend. TSN will broadcast two different draws during the preliminary round’s afternoon and prime-time coverage which gives viewers over 100 hours of Brier action, double the amount from last year.

Four-time Brier champion and three-time world champion David Nedohin will deliver analysis along with Bryan Mudryk on play-by-play and Cathy Gauthier. Vic Rauter and analyst Russ Howard, a two-time Brier champion and 2006 Olympic gold medallist, call afternoon and evening feature draws alongside guest analyst and Olympic silver medallist Cheryl Bernard.

Broadcast schedule is below. Draws will air live across TSN. Feature draw matches and channel listings will be updated daily, visit tsn.ca/curling for the most up-to-date schedule. Continue reading

Two Weekends of Provincial Championship Curling on Sportsnet

There are two big weekends of curling coming up with the women’s provincial curling championships this weekend and the men’s championship in two weeks. Sportsnet will cover both weekends for the third straight year with 27 hours of coverage from four provinces across the country.

Broadcast team details:

Women’s Provincial Curling Championships (January 24–25)
Studio Host: Carly Agro and Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games silver medallist Richard Hart

• 2015 Jiffy Lube Alberta Scotties (Lacombe, AB)
Play-by-Play: Don Landry and Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games silver medallist Cheryl Bernard
2015 Scotties BC Women’s Curling Championship presented by Best Western (Maple Ridge, BC)
Play-by-Play: Rogers Millions and 1991 Canadian women’s champion Melissa Soligo
2015 Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts presented by Monsanto (Winkler, MB)
Play-by-Play: Rob Faulds and Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games gold medallist Joan McCusker
2015 Ontario Scotties Tournament of Hearts (Penetanguishene, ON)
Play-by-Play: Mark Lee and Danielle Inglis

Men’s Provincial Curling Championships (February 7-8, 2015)
Studio Host: Daren Millard and Hart

2015 Canadian Direct Insurance BC Men’s Curling Championship (Vernon, BC)
Play-by-Play: Millions and two-time world champion Pat Ryan
2015 Boston Pizza Cup (Wainwright, AB)
Play-by-Play: Landry and Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games gold medallist Kevin Martin
• 2015 Safeway Championship (Brandon, MB)
Play-by-Play: Faulds, Ray Turnbull, and Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games gold medallist Jennifer Jones
2015 Recharge with Milk Tankard (Ingersoll, ON)
Play-by-Play: Lee and Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games silver medallist Mike Harris

Full schedule is below. All times are ET.

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Brier Playdowns are This Weekend

For the first time Sportsnet will broadcast Brier playdows from Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba to viewers across the country. In all, this weekend teams from eight provinces will try to join James Grattan (NB), Jamie Koe (NWT), Jean-Michel Menard (QB), and Brock Virtue (SSK) in the Brier in March.

Alberta’s Boston Pizza Cup is usually one of the most exciting provincial tournaments. The field is very deep, including top of the top five teams in Canada with Kevin Koe and Kevin Martin. Jamie King’s team (ranked 21st) features former World Champions Blake McDonald (third) and Scott Pfeiffer (second). Brandon Bottcher, the 2012 World Junior champion, has the 21st best team in Canada.

Manitoba’s Safeway Championship features the second and third best teams in Canada with Jeff Stoughton and Mike McEwan. Defending provincial champion Rob Fowler (ranked 17th) is back as well. William Lyburn’s rink (ranked 16) is also a contender.

Glenn Howard is the favourite to win Ontario’s Dominion Tankard, as he has the past seven years. There are teams in Ontario that could challenge Howard, however. They include John Epping (ranked 7th), Bryan Cochrane (ranked 13th), Joe Frans (ranked 15th), Jake Higgs (ranked 20th) and Rob Rumfeldt (ranked 22nd).

Also this weekend TSN has coverage of the men’s and women’s finals at the Canadian Junior Curling Championships. To say the least it is a huge weekend for curling fans.

Here is the complete schedule. All times are Eastern.

Alberta Boston Pizza Cup
Sunday 2/10, 11:30am – Semifinal – Sportsnet ONE
Sunday 2/10, 4:00pm – Championship – Sportsnet ONE & Citytv Alberta

Manitoba Safeway Championship
Saturday 2/9, 7:30pm – Semifinal #1 – Sportsnet & Citytv Winnipeg
Sunday 2/10, 10:00am – Semifinal #2 – Sportsnet West/Pacific & Citytv Winnipeg
Sunday 2/10, 2:30pm – Championship – Sportsnet West/Pacific & Citytv Winnipeg

Ontario Dominion Tankard
Sunday 2/10, 9:30am – Semifinal – Sportsnet East/Ontario
Sunday 2/10, 2:30pm – Championship – Sportsnet East/Ontario

Canadian Junior Curling Championship
Saturday 2/9, 7:00pm – Men’s Championship – TSN
Sunday 2/10, 7:00pm – Women’s Championship – TSN

New Curling Skins Game Format is Great

Curling entered into new territory last weekend when it held its first “All Star Weekend”. The four major American sports have held All Star Games for decades, with success ranging from great (MLB) to terrible (NFL). Even NASCAR has held an All Star Race for close to thirty years, not that it’s entirely different from any other NASCAR Race. In my opinion, the first Curling All Star Skins Game, held at Casino Rama, was more exciting than any of the traditional All Star Games in North American sports.

There are many reasons why an All Star format works in curling. The curlers all know each other because they play in the same tournaments some 10-15 weeks a year. In that sense it’s not unlike the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup in golf, where athletes who usually compete against each other player together. It also works because there is very little chance of injury in curling, compared to any of the four major American sports, really. It also has a unique history in that the Curling Skins Game at Casino Rama was already one of the most prestigious curling events in the world before it introduced All Star format in 2013.

Money is also important. The purse at the Skins Game was $100, 000, which the same as the purse at this weekend’s Grand Slam. That makes it one of the richest curling events in the world. Glenn Howard’s All Star team, who were champions, won $51, 000. At the last Grand Slam in December, Howard’s usual team won $25, 000 as champions. The Curling All Star Game is big money for the sixteen curling who make it. They all want to win.

While the All Star format was first revealed during the 2012 Skins Game final, the idea of a draft was only introduced earlier this month. TSN adopted the idea from the NHL All Star Game draft, which is wildly popular among fans and players. It worked a lot better than a random draw would have. It was fun TV to watch. It gave viewers a glimpse at curlers off the ice. And, most importantly, it allowed the skips to choose players who they’d always wanted to play with.

The new format also saw the Skins Game get a bump in TV ratings as well, despite going against record-setting NHL games most of the weekend. An average 330, 000 watched the first semi final on Saturday afternoon, while an average of 308, 000 watched the second semi final Saturday night. The Saturday night number is particularly impressive when you consider that an average of 4.6 million others were watching the Leafs-Habs game at the same time. An average of 403, 000 watched Sunday’s final, which also went head-to-head with an NHL game on NBC. The three games averaged 347, 000 viewers, which is an 9% increase over last season.

This was the last year for the Skins Game at Casino Rama. With a new venue next year, maybe TSN will want to consider a few new ideas for the event. At some point I’d like to see it as a mixed All Star game. Just once to see how the idea works. The mixed skins at the Continental Cup is really the only thing that saves that event. I’d also like to see international curling including in the voting. While Canadians would likely win the spots, Niklas Edin’s team is one of the best in the world and they at least deserve a shot. And how about a “skills competition”  (similar to singles at the Continental Cup) on Friday night? It would give TSN another night of programming, and it would also give the new teammates a chance to play with each other before playing for more money on Saturday.

Curling Grand Slam… Similar to the way TSN built the Curling Skins Game, Sportsnet has done a great job rebuilding the Grand Slam this year. The foundation was obviously already there, and had been for a several years. However, it was in shambles after the television contract with the CBC fell apart a year ago. Last season’s The National wasn’t broadcast on Canadian television at all. A year later Sportsnet has some 22 hours of coverage of this weekend’s event. Curling fans have always said the sport has a lot of room to grow on Canadian TV, and we are seeing that this year.

Which leads me to…

Provincial Championships… Sportsnet is also showing the Scotties playdowns in Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario to a national audience for the first time. They also have Brier playdowns in those provinces in a couple of weeks. It is really unheard of for a network to cover four curling events in one weekend, but Sportsnet is doing so this weekend. Rob Faulds, Mike Harris and Richard Hart are in Port Hawkesbury for The National; Don Landry and Paul Webster are in Lethbridge for the Alberta Scotties; Roger Millions and Joan McCusker are in Stonewall for the Manitoba Scotties; and Dan Dunleavy is in Kitchener for the Ontario Scotties.

Here is the complete Scotties playdowns schedule for Sportsnet and Citytv
Saturday 1/26, 9:30pm – Manitoba Semifinal #1 (Sportsnet West/Pacific; Citytv Winnipeg)
Sunday 1/27, 9:30am – Ontario Semifinal (Sportsnet National)
Sunday 1/27, 1:00pm – Manitoba Semifinal #2 (Sportsnet ONE; Citytv Winnipeg)
Sunday 1/27, 4:00pm – Ontario Championship (Sportsnet Ontario)
Sunday 1/27, 4:00pm – Alberta Championship (Sportsnet West/Pacific; Citytv Alberta)
Sunday 1/27, 6:00pm – Manitoba Championship (Sportsnet ONE)

I guess The Biggest Loser takes precedence over the Manitoba Final for Citytv Winnipeg.

Dodgers New TV Deal… The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed a new local broadcast contract to show the team’s games for two decades beginning next (2014) season. Time Warner will pay $7 billion for the rights, that’s a whole billion more than Fox Sports was willing to pay. It’s not good news for Fox’s channel Prime Ticket, which already lost local L.A. Lakers rights to Time Warner’s new sports channel last year. Steve Ladurantaye of The Globe and Mail has a comparison of the new Dodgers TV deal and the Blue Jays TV deal. The Jays are experiencing big TV ratings gains, which should increase again this year with the hype surrounding the team; however, they probably won’t cash in on their new TV deal anyway.

Sun News… As many may have noticed, Sun News Channel has asked the CRTC to place it on the basic cable section of the dial, forcing everyone to carry it. This is similar to what CBC Newsworld and CTV News Network asked for when they launched 24 and 16 years ago, respectively. Obviously many things have changed in cable and satellite broadcasting since. I thought Andrew Coyne’s take on this was great. This is a great opportunity for the CRTC to remove the must-subscribe designation from all cable services. And, of course, the other aspect of the story is that Sun said they’d never ask for basic cable carriage because it “would be tantamount to a tax on everyone with cable or satellite service.” Oh, the hypocrisy.

The Hahnenkamm… One could argue that the original extreme winter sport is the Kitzbuhel Downhill. The classic ski race was first run more than 80 years ago in 1931. CBC will broadcast the 2012 Downhill on Saturday at 4:00pm ET. And trust me, it is worth watching.  I won’t spoil the result, but Canada’s Erik Guay had a very good day. CBCSports.ca will stream Sunday’s Slalom, with the second run at 7:25am ET. Friday’s Super-G isn’t on Canadian television.

Grand Slam of Curling Kicks off This Weekend

The new season of the Grand Slam of Curling begins in Brantford, Ontario this weekend with The Masters. CBC and Sportsnet will broadcast it. Here is the Sportsnet press release.

Curling’s biggest stars are set to rock as the Grand Slam of Curling makes its first stop of the 2012-13 series in Brantford, ON for The Masters. Sportsnet’s broadcast of the much-anticipated event begins Thursday, Nov. 15 at Noon ET/9 a.m. PT, live from the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre (full broadcast details are below).

Sixty-four men’s and women’s teams in total will compete in the high-stakes, competitive bonspiel featuring a combined purse of $200,000. The Masters features the cream of the crop in curling, headlined by 2012 Brier and World Champion Glenn Howard, 2010 Olympic gold medallist Kevin Martin, and 2010 Brier and World Champion Kevin Koe. On the women’s side, The Masters includes 2012 Tournament of Hearts champion Heather Nedohin, 2012 World Champion Mirjam Ott and current World Curling Tour money leader Sherry Middaugh.

The Masters kicks off Sportsnet’s robust curling broadcast schedule for the 2012-13 season, and includes a team of seasoned broadcast veterans calling all of the action. Sportsnet’s Rob Faulds will handle the play-by-play alongside Mike Harris, who skipped his team to gold at the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympic Games, and Joan McCusker, 1998 Olympic gold medallist and three-time Canadian and World Champion on Sandra Schmirler’s team.

Here is the broadcast schedule

Thursday 11/15, 12:00pm – Draw 3 – Sportsnet
Thursday 11/15, 3:30pm – Draw 4 – Sportsnet
Friday 11/16, 3:30pm – Draw 8 – Sportsnet
Friday 11/16, 7:00pm – Draw 9 – Sportsnet
Saturday 11/17, 3:30pm – Quarterfinals – CBC
Saturday 11/17, 8:30pm – Quarterfinals – SN1
Sunday 11/18, 8:00am – Semifinals – Sportsnet
Sunday 11/18, 1:00pm – Championship – CBC

Sportsnet Adds Brier and Scotties Playdowns

Some relatively important curling news breaking today. Sportsnet have announced they will broadcast provincial playdowns for the Brier and Tournament of Hearts (Canada’s national curling championships) for the next ten seasons, beginning in 2013. Sportsnet will broadcast the men’s and women’s playdowns in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, which are generally seen as the three most competitive provinces, beginning this January. Sportsnet will also add the B.C. Championships in 2014.

Earlier this year Sportsnet also purchased the Grand Slam of Curling, so in total the network will broadcast 7 curling events this season.

Here is the press release.

In a continued commitment to growing the sport of curling in Canada, Sportsnet today announced a 10-year multiplatform agreement for exclusive Canadian coverage of the B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario Provincial Curling Championships. Under terms of the agreement, Sportsnet will partner with the four provincial governing bodies – Curl B.C, Alberta Curling Federation, CurlManitoba, and Ontario Curling Association – to deliver the men’s and women’s championship events on television, online and mobile platforms.

This marks the first time the Provincial Curling Championships will be delivered nationally across Canada.

Coverage begins in January 2013 with the Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario women’s events, followed by the men’s events in February.  Sportsnet’s deal for the B.C. Provincial Curling Championships begins in 2014.  Broadcast details will be announced at a later date.

“As curling’s popularity continues to grow at an impressive rate, Sportsnet is committed to providing curling fans with increased access to high-calibre events such as the Provincial Curling Championships,” said Navaid Mansuri, Vice-President of Finance and Sports Programming, Sportsnet. “By building on the growing popularity of the sport, these agreements allow us to expand our curling coverage while elevating the profile of these events, as well as the sport of curling across Canada.”

The Provincial Curling Championships are an annual event that showcases curling’s most elite athletes from across the country. The winners move on to compete in the national championships: Tournament of Hearts (women) and Brier (men).

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of Sportsnet’s recent purchase the Grand Slam of Curling. Announced in August 2012, Sportsnet now wholly owns and operates the elite series of men’s and women’s curling events which are part of the World Curling Tour.

Sportsnet Buys Grand Slam of Curling, Sub-licenses to CBC

I hinted last night about a major announcement coming from Sportsnet this morning. I honestly had no clue they were about to buy the Grand Slam of Curling. That’s right, not just the broadcast rights, but the name and events themselves. Sportsnet promises to broadcast the four annual Grand Slam events like never before. And through a sub-license, CBC returns to broadcast curling events for a 51st season.

You may remember last January that CBC quietly sub-licensed weekday coverage of the Grand Slams to Sportsnet. Before the coverage even got to air CBC terminated their contract with the Grand Slam, then owned by iSport Media. The public broadcaster had not received payments from the company for broadcasting the Grand Slam bonspiels. As a result, Sportsnet’s sub-licenese was also terminated. One Grand Slam went completely untelevised. iSport was able to arrange a deal with Global Television to show the season-ending Players Championship.

Not paying the CBC was just the first sign of financial problems for the Slam. Due to “technical problems” many teams were not initially able to claim their prize money following the Players Championship. All teams were eventually payed, but there was no doubt iSport was in serious financial trouble and the integrity of the Grand Slam was in question heading into the 2012 season.

The new deals eliminates iSport, which brings the CBC back to the table as the over-the-air rights holder; restoring curling to the channel after a short 8 month hiatus. Sportsnet will supplement CBC’s coverage as the cable broadcaster. Sportsnet will also run the tournament, following TSN’s example of having an executive role in the TSN Curling Skins Game.

It is becoming more common for Canadian networks to control the events in which they broadcast every day. Bell and Rogers buying large pieces of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment is a prime example. Rogers also owns the Toronto Blue Jays. The curling is just more guaranteed programming for Sportsnet as long as they keep the series running. As part of their pending acquisition of theScore, Rogers also gains control of theScore Fighting Series in the coming months. Both events will likely fall under the new “Sportsnet Events” department.

Scott Moore was the head of CBC Sports when they bought World Curling Tour rights in 2007. He  is now Rogers President of Broadcasting. Today Moore said, “Curling is an essential part of our Canadian sports fabric, and the Grand Slam of Curling is the cream of the crop in international curling events. We are proud to own and operate the Grand Slam of Curling, as it furthers Sportsnet’s commitment to producing world-class content, anyplace, anyhow and anywhere and allows us to integrate and engage the sports fan in innovative ways through our new events division. Sportsnet intends to grow the Grand Slam of Curling like never before.”

The World Competitive Curlers Association (curling’s version of the NHLPA) was vocally concerned about iSport’s financial troubles, including the lack of a television agreement for the Grand Slam. Their President Pierre Charette said today, “On behalf of the Grand Slam players, we are thrilled to welcome Sportsnet as the new owners of the Grand Slam of Curling. This is great news for the Canadian curling community as a whole. Sportsnet will operate events that are second-to-none, broadcast more games and take the Grand Slam of Curling to another level.”

The 2011-12 season of the Grand Slam of Curling begins November 14 with The Masters in Brantford, Ontario. I’ll post broadcast details as they become available closer to the start of the season.

World Men’s Curling Championship: Starts Saturday on TSN

The 2012 World Men’s Curling Championship begins Saturday in Basel. TSN will show one draw a day during the round robin, plus the page playoffs, semi final and championship match. TSN will also show the bronze medal game if Canada is playing in it.

Here is the press release with more information.

Ontario’s Glenn Howard leads Team Canada against the top men’s curling teams from around the world at the 2012 WORLD MEN’S CURLING CHAMPIONSHIP in Basel, Switzerland from March 31 to April 8. TSN’s exclusive live coverage begins this Saturday at 8 a.m. ET with Canada’s opening draw against France. Coverage includes select Team Canada draws plus the playoffs and Final (see complete broadcast schedule below).

All draws on TSN can also be seen live on TSN Mobile TV and on-demand at TSN.ca following the live television broadcast. TSN.ca also has live streaming of the following draws: Canada vs. Denmark (Tuesday, April 3 at 8 a.m. ET); Canada vs. Sweden (Wednesday, April 4 at 8 a.m. ET); and Canada vs. China (Thursday, April 5 at 1 p.m. ET). In addition, French-language coverage of the tournament is available on RDS2.

Team Canada is represented by Howard’s national championship-winning rink, Team Ontario, including third Wayne Middaugh, second Brent Laing and lead Craig Savill. Howard, a four-time Brier champion, is battling for his fourth career world title at the 2012 WORLD MEN’S CURLING CHAMPIONSHIP.

TSN’s esteemed curling broadcast team is on site in Basel with Vic Rauter calling the action alongside Linda Moore, the 1985 Canadian and World champion and 1988 Olympic gold medallist when curling was a demonstration sport, and Russ Howard, a two-time Brier champion and 2006 Olympic gold medallist.

To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed with TSN’s selections of matches. For example, Canada vs. 2011 World silver medallist Tom Brewster and Scotland is going televised on Wednesday April 4. The game starts at 1pm Eastern. TSN is unable to broadcast it because of the Masters Part 3 contest. It would be nice if TSN2 would show it though. TSN does have Canada vs. Sweden earlier in the day.

Continue after the break for a list of teams and the broadcast schedu

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Global Set To Televise Curling’s Players’ Championship

The World Curling Tour has announced today that Global Television will broadcast the men’s and women’s finals of the 2012 Players’ Championship. The crown jewel of the tour was left without a broadcaster after the CBC nullified their contract just before the previous Grand Slam event in January.

This news comes as a major surprise for two reasons. The first is the rumour was then that Sportsnet was extremely interested in World Curling Tour rights, which would have included expanded coverage. The other reason is Global doesn’t have a sports production division. And for that matter, their parent company, Shaw Media, announced just last year that they wouldn’t pursue sports broadcast rights.

Former CBC analyst Don Duguid will make his return to Canadian television in Global’s broadcast booth alongside 2010 Olympic silver medallist Cheryl Bernard.

Here is the press release from the World Curling Tour.

Shaw Media and the Capital One Grand Slam of Curling announced today that the men’s and women’s finals of the Players’ Championship April 21-22 will be broadcast live, beginning at 12:00pm EST on Global Television.

Held annually since 2001-02, the Capital One Grand Slam of Curling is a series of four elite international events with the largest prize purse in curling, totaling $670,000.

“The Capital One Grand Slam of Curling is an outstanding addition to our lineup,” said Barbara Williams, Senior Vice President, Content. “As the crown jewel of the Grand Slam series with an elite field of competitors, it’s the perfect addition to our extensive PGA Tour coverage, adding up to a great weekend for Canadian sports fans.”

The Players’ Championship will see the debut of a new broadcast team with Olympic Silver Medalist, Cheryl Bernard teaming up with Two-time World Champion and veteran NBC Olympic commentator, Don Duguid.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity”, said Bernard, who’s team just failed to qualify for the Players’ Championship, “I have always wanted to try commentating but since I am always playing, there was never a chance. So when this became available, I jumped at it, and then to find out I will be sitting beside the master, Don Duguid, well that’s just icing on the cake.”

“I’m looking forward to being back on Canadian television,” said Duguid, the curling expert for NBC’s Olympic coverage for the past three Olympic Games. “To be able to team up with a great champion like Cheryl will enable us to provide a new perspective on this event. The Grand Slam fans are going to see a very innovative broadcast as we will be committed to interacting with the fans and also taking them behind the scenes.”

Each Slam event boasts a line-up featuring the world’s best teams competing for the CapitalOne Cup, awarded to the one men’s team and one women’s team that accumulate the most points throughout the season based on their performance in selected Capital One Grand Slam of Curling events.

“We’re excited to announce our partnership today with Shaw Media as it means that our fans will see outstanding national coverage of the brand new format we have introduced for this year’s Players’ Championship,” said Kevin Albrecht, CEO, Grand Slam of Curling “For the first time ever, the top 8 teams on the world rankings will battle it out for the largest prize purse in curling. The combined purse for the men’s and women’s divisions, including the year-end Capital One Cup, will be $370,000.”

Here is Global’s updated sports broadcast schedule for April 21 and 22.

Saturday April 21
12:00pm – Players Championship: women’s final
3:00pm – Texas Open: 3rd round

Sunday April 22
12:00pm – Players Championship: men’s final
3:00pm – Texas Open: final round

World Women’s Curling Championship: Starts Saturday on TSN

Heather Nedohin’s rink is set to represent Canada in their home province as the 2012 World Women’s Curling Championship begins Saturday in Lethbridge. TSN will show all 11 Canadian round robin games, plus the page playoff games, semi final, bronze medal game and final. Here is TSN’s press release.

Team Canada heads to Lethbridge, AB to battle for the world title at the 2012 FORD WORLD WOMEN’S CURLING CHAMPIONSHIP. TSN’s exclusive live coverage begins Saturday at 9 p.m. ET with Canada’s opening draw against USA. Coverage runs March 17-25 and features every Canada draw plus the playoffs and Final (see complete broadcast schedule below).

All draws can also be seen live on TSN Mobile TV and on-demand at TSN.ca following the live television broadcast. TSN.ca also has live streaming of all weekday morning and afternoon draws beginning Monday, March 19.

Team Canada is represented by 2012 SCOTTIES TOURNAMENT OF HEARTS winner Team Alberta, led by skip Heather Nedohin, third Beth Iskiw, second Jessica Mair and lead Laine Peters. Along with Canada and the USA, the 12-team field includes China, Czech Republic, Denmark, South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Scotland, Germany, and Italy.

Joining Team Canada in Lethbridge is TSN’s esteemed curling broadcast team, with Vic Rauter calling the action alongside Olympic gold medallist Linda Moore and two-time Brier Champion and Olympic gold medallist, Russ Howard.

Fans can join the conversation by visiting the new Facebook.com/TSNCurling page and by following @TSNCurling and @TSNVicRauter on Twitter. Fans can also visit TSN.ca and download the TSN Mobile app and the TSN iPad app for all the latest scores and news from the 2012 FORD WORLD WOMEN’S CURLING CHAMPIONSHIP.

TSN’s sweeping curling coverage continues with the 2012 WORLD MEN’S CURLING CHAMPIONSHIP from March 31 to April 8 in Basel, Switzerland.

Continue after the break for a list of teams competing in Lethbridge and TSN’s broadcast schedule.

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2012 Brier: Starts Saturday on TSN

The 2012 Tim Hortons Brier begins this Saturday in Saskatoon. TSN and TSN2 will combine to show every draw from the Brier live. The Brier is usually one of the highest rated sports events in Canada. Here is TSN’s press release.

Canada’s top men’s curlers are sweeping into Saskatoon, SK for the 2012 TIM HORTONS BRIER airing March 3-11 on TSN. The network’s exclusive live coverage of the national men’s championship begins Saturday, March 3 at 2:30 p.m. ET on TSN with Draw 1 match-ups (see below for complete broadcast schedule). In total, TSN and TSN2 have more than 60 hours of live BRIER action.

All BRIER draws can be seen live on TSN Mobile TV and on-demand at TSN.ca following the live television broadcast. TSN.ca also has live streaming of all weekday morning and afternoon draws beginning Monday, March 5. French-language coverage of the BRIER is available on RDS2, with the Final airing on RDS.

TSN’s esteemed curling broadcast team is on hand for afternoon and evening draws with Vic Rauter calling the action alongside Olympic gold medallist Linda Moore and two-time BRIER champion and Olympic gold medallist, Russ Howard. Bryan Mudryk calls the action alongside three-time Scotties winner Cathy Gauthier for the morning draws.

On Sunday, March 11, TSN airs the 2012 TIM HORTONS BRIER CHAMPIONSHIP SPECIAL at 7:30 p.m. ET just before the Final (8 p.m. ET). The 30-minute special showcases highlights from the tournament, takes fans behind-the-scenes at the BRIER and tees up the championship match-up.

Continue after the break for a list of teams and TSN’s broadcast schedule.

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Glenn Howard Documentary: This Weekend on TSN

TSN has announced a new documentary about Glenn Howard’s curling team will air this weekend. Here are the details.

Three-time world champion Glenn Howard and his Coldwater and District Curling Club rink are the focus of ROCKUMENTARY, a new all-access documentary premiering Sunday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. ET on TSN. The one-hour documentary leads into TSN’s BRIER coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Produced by filmmaker Dave Goodbrand, ROCKUMENTARY is based on more than a year of behind-the-scenes footage from the 2010-11 curling season. Fans are given a glimpse of the ups and downs of competitive curling life for Howard and his team – from the joys of playing the game they love to the sacrifices made by players and their families.

In total, ROCKUMENTARY airs five times throughout the BRIER tournament:
• Sunday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. ET (TSN)
• Monday, March 5 at 12 midnight ET/ 9 p.m. PT (TSN)
• Wednesday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m. ET (TSN2)
• Thursday, March 8 at 1:30 p.m. ET (TSN)
• Friday, March 9 at 12 midnight ET/9 p.m. PT (TSN2)

TSN’s exclusive live coverage of the BRIER begins with Draw 1 match-ups on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

2012 Tournament of Hearts: Starts Saturday on TSN

The 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts begins Saturday afternoon in Red Deer, Alberta. This is the 31st edition of the Tournament of Hearts and the 47th Canadian Women’s Curling Championship. Here is TSN’s press release with information on their broadcast coverage. Then continue after the break for the broadcast schedule.

The best female curlers in the nation are on the road to Red Deer, AB for the 2012 SCOTTIES TOURNAMENT OF HEARTS airing Feb. 18-26 on TSN. The network’s more than 60 hours of exclusive live coverage begins with Draw 1 match-ups on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 3 p.m. ET and culminates with the championship on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET (see below for complete schedule).

All draws from the 2012 SCOTTIES TOURNAMENT OF HEARTS can be seen live on TSN Mobile TV and on-demand at TSN.ca following the live television broadcast. TSN.ca will also have live streaming of all weekday morning and afternoon draws beginning Monday, Feb. 20. In addition, French-language coverage is available throughout the tournament on RDS2.

Defending champion Amber Holland and her Saskatchewan rink will represent Team Canada against 11 teams that won their respective provincial playdowns. Once again, this year’s field includes fan favourite and four-time SCOTTIES champion Jennifer Jones of Manitoba, who lost to Holland in last year’s final in extra ends. Also returning to compete are last year’s bronze medallists from Nova Scotia led by skip Heather Smith-Dacey.

TSN’s esteemed curling broadcast team is on hand for afternoon and evening draws with Vic Rauter calling the action alongside Olympic gold medallist Linda Moore and two-time Brier champion and Olympic gold medallist, Russ Howard. Bryan Mudryk will call the action alongside three-time SCOTTIES winner Cathy Gauthier for the morning draws.

In addition to curling, TSN will have special coverage of the Sandra Schmirler Telethon, held live at the 2012 SCOTTIES TOURNAMENT OF HEARTS on Sunday, Feb. 19. The annual telethon benefits hospitals across Canada for the care of premature and critically ill babies. Fans can make a donation by visiting SandraSchmirler.org or by calling 1-866-210-6011.

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CBC Pulls Out of Deal with Curling’s Grand Slams

The Calgary Herald’s Allen Cameron broke one of the most confusing sports broadcasting stories in recent memory last week. The CBC has ended its 5 year agreement with iSport Media to broadcast curling’s four Grand Slam events, effective immediately. The next event, The National, begins today in Dawson Creek, BC.

On the surface both the CBC and iSport appeared to benefit from the contract. The ratings were solid (usually in the 500, 000 range for finals), the events attract all the top teams in the world, and the sport was growing through initiatives such as the Capital One Million Dollar Button. However, behind closed doors the CBC and iSport weren’t getting along so well.

While the CBC gave no official reason for their decision, there are rumours that iSport owes the public broadcaster money. For their part, iSport says the amount of money owed is dependant on the CBC’s production quality, which isn’t very good (I wrote about this last April). CBC’s broadcasts aren’t even available in high definition. iSport chief executive officer Kevin Albrecht said this in a statement to The Globe & Mail:

We’ve been negotiating with [the CBC] for nine months now. We have a lot of issues about the quality of the broadcasts and we thought it was getting stale and not up to the standards we’d expect. We’ve talked to them about this for some time.

The four Grand Slam events rely on a television contract to help pay the $100, 000 in prize money at each event. They also rely on television to bring in sponsorship deals, such as the one with Capital One. These events are also vital for the exposure of curling outside of the Canadian and World Championships. Along with the Canada Cup, the Grand Slams are the only events that truly bring together all the best Canadian curling teams. Without a television contract for 2012-13 the series may be in dire straits, and without the Grand Slam curling’s upswing of support may die.

Just two weeks ago, the future of the Grand Slam looked bright. As I Tweeted, Sportsnet was going to supplement CBC’s coverage with their own coverage of the round robin. This news was first confirmed in The Curling News in early Januay. Just days after Sportsnet’s schedule indicated this, all signs of curling on Sportsnet disappeared. I figured it was some sort of mistake at first, but now it looks like once CBC’s deal fell through, so did Sportsnet’s plans of broadcasting the bonspiel.

Then late last week, Bob Weeks indicated that Sportsnet was about to take over as the exclusive broadcaster of the Grand Slam, showing the 3 weekend broadcasts that the CBC had in the past, plus 7 more broadcasts on Thursday and Friday. The deal between Sportsnet and iSport still hasn’t materialized. And now it is too late for any hope of TV coverage of this weekend’s slam. Sportsnet and iSport may take their time finalizing details before the next Grand Slam, the Players Championship in April.

It comes as no surprise to me that Sportsnet has interest in broadcasting the Grand Slam. Rogers Media president Keith Pelley was influential in growing curling on TSN’s Seasons of Champions broadcasts. He is known as a fan of the sport. Meanwhile, Scott Moore, who is the head of Rogers Broadcasting, was at the helm of CBC Sports when they began broadcasting the Grand Slam in 2007. Considering TSN has the Season of Champions locked up through 2020, the Grand Slam is Sportsnet’s best hope of making a foray into curling broadcasting. Sportsnet was the original broadcaster of the Grand Slam of Curling.

2012 marks the end of 50 continuous years of curling on Canada’s public broadcaster. CBC’s first curling broadcast was the 1962 Brier. They lost Season of Champions coverage to TSN in 2008.

As a curling fan, I hope Sportsnet can make the best out of a bad situation. I’ve loved watched the Grand Slam finals on CBC, but their coverage always lacked what TSN had. Coverage wasn’t in HD, Joan McCusker is among the most annoying sports analysts ever, and high-quality analysis were a rare sight. While CBC’s coverage of a quarterfinal and the final brought these events to the attention of the average curling fan, they need something new to push them to the next level. I hope that Sportsnet can provide this.

For more information about Sportsnet’s possible new contract with iSport, see this article by Allen Cameron.

TSN Announces Continuation of Curling Skins Game

TSN announced during the fourth end break of today’s TSN Curling Skins Game at Casino Rama that the event will continue for years to come under a new name, The Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game. In the new format, fans will now vote for the curlers who compete in the event. Here is the press release.

TSN today announced a new multi-year curling partnership with The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company that will see Canada’s trusted insurance company become the title sponsor of TSN’s annual curling skins event. Beginning January 2013, THE DOMINION ALL-STAR CURLING SKINS GAME features the top men’s curlers in Canada as voted by the fans and competing for $100,000 in prize money live on TSN.

The announcement was made earlier this afternoon by George Cooke, CEO and President of The Dominion, and Stewart Johnston, President of TSN, during the fourth end of the 2012 TSN CURLING SKINS GAME final at Casino Rama featuring Kevin Koe taking on Jeff Stoughton.

“We at The Dominion are excited to be the title sponsor of the THE DOMINION ALL-STAR CURLING SKINS GAME. This event will raise the profile of curling in Canada, pushing it upward in the hierarchy of sport – parallel to that of hockey, baseball or basketball which all have All-Star game events,” said Cooke. “Enabling curlers and curling teams to take part in the team selection furthers The Dominion’s commitment to the growth of grassroots curling in Canada. We are proud to partner with TSN, a broadcast leader and a true friend to the sport of curling – as is The Dominion.”

“TSN is thrilled to partner with The Dominion for the THE DOMINION ALL-STAR CURLING SKINS GAME. This best-in-class event will no doubt continue in TSN’s long-standing skins tradition of giving Canadian fans fierce curling competition from the country’s top curlers,” said Johnston. “Curling has forever been a part of the sporting fabric of our nation and its significance, especially at the grassroots level, has never been greater. To work alongside The Dominion on promoting the game in communities across Canada and engaging fans with the chance to vote in their favourite curlers are privileges that we are proud to have.”

“The Canadian Curling Association (CCA) was pleased to help bring TSN and The Dominion together in an effort to further enhance the Skins Game, its format and its place within the TSN framework. This event has become a fan favourite and it will now allow curling enthusiasts from across the country to have a say in how the event looks and its representation,” said Greg Stremlaw, Chief Executive Officer of the sport’s national governing body, the Canadian Curling Association. “The CCA is very proud to be involved with this event and enhanced collaboration with both our exclusive broadcast partner, TSN, and the CCA’s official insurance company, The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company.”

THE DOMINION ALL-STAR CURLING SKINS GAME gives fans the opportunity to vote online at TSN.ca to select their favourite four curlers at each position – lead, second, third and skip – to participate in TSN’s annual curling skins event. The curlers included on the all-star ballot are ranked by the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS), which is used by the CCA.

Similar to previous TSN Skins events, THE DOMINION ALL-STAR CURLING SKINS GAME uses a single-elimination format whereby the winner is decided by total prize money and not total points throughout the two-day event.

TSN’s partnership with The Dominion extends to the insurance company’s extensive programs and platforms supporting grassroots curling in Canada, including The Dominion Curling Club Championship – the ultimate experience for club curlers. Beginning in December 2012, TSN will air an annual one-hour special on The Dominion Curling Club Championship, as the country’s top men’s and women’s club championship teams are afforded the opportunity to compete not only within their province or territory, but also nationally in the CCA sanctioned event.

I am not a big fan of the new format for one reason, the following quote: “The curlers included on the all-star ballot are ranked by the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS), which is used by the CCA.” It looks like this means that international curlers, including former champion David Murdoch, are per-cluded from competing.