Sportsnet Boasts Huge Numbers For NHL Opener, Though Down From CBC Last Year

nhlsportsnetDespite setting a new Sportsnet viewing record, Sportsnet’s coverage of the opening game of the 2014–15 NHL season between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens was actually down 14% from last year’s CBC broadcast of the same game.

Last year, CBC recorded 2.33 million viewers for the mid-week Leafs-Habs opener, while this year’s broadcast this past Wednesday managed an average of 2.01 million viewers with 8 million English-speaking Canadian tuning in to at least part of Wednesday Night Hockey. This is a record for a hockey broadcast on Sportsnet and it was also the number one program viewed across Canada on Wednesday night according to Numeris. The previous record for Sportsnet viewership was the 2013 Blue Jays home opener which got an audience of 1.44 million.

On the French-language side, TVA Sports got 952,000 viewers for the Habs-Leafs which makes a total of 2.7 million Canadians that watched the game, down from CBC’s and RDS’s combined total of 3.31 million last season.

The Calgary Flames vs. Vancouver Canucks game that followed the early game received an average audience of 1 million – also down from CBC’s home opener late game broadcast of 1.05 million which was Oilers-Jets. The pre-game show earlier in the night averaged 377,000 viewers.

One entirely possible explanation is that 32,000-viewer difference can be attributed to over-the-air CBC being available in more homes than the cable-based Sportsnet (CBC is available in about 4 million more homes than Sportsnet). Another could be that Canadians were watching digitally. Sportsnet also recorded huge numbers for their brand new NHL GameCentre Live. 55,000 people watched the Leafs-Habs game online, with 75% watching on their desktop computer and 25% on a tablet or smartphone, and over 80,000 minutes of on-demand replays from the game was streamed by fans.

Look for a review on Sportsnet’s television coverage and GameCentre Live over the weekend.

Your Complete Guide to the 2014-15 NHL Season on Canadian TV

nhl-logoI’m not sure how much more can be said ahead of opening night tomorrow when Rogers will officially begin their 12-year broadcast of the NHL. Below is a list of links to the various aspects of the schedule and broadcast that has been covered over the past months. I will most likely do a weekly schedule (similar to the weekly NFL posts) due to the week-to-week announcements of channel placings of Saturday night games. If there seems to be something I’ve missed or you have a question about something not covered, just hit up the comments.

Below is a breakdown of each Canadian team and their television schedule. Definition of regional blackout area is in brackets. To find which out which team is in your regional, go here. Regional schedule is linked to a separate post per team which should also include radio broadcast information. National schedules for English and French are in the list above.

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GameCentre Live Includes New GamePlus Feature Only For Rogers Customers

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The new angles on offer with GamePlus.

If you’re a Rogers subscriber and plan on using GameCentre Live this season, you will have access to an exclusive experience dubbed GamePlus. It will offer new and innovative (to hockey broadcasts, that is) cameras to choose from as well as multiple replay angles, advanced stats, exclusive interviews and expert analysis not available elsewhere.

Here are the new cameras available for viewing:

  • Sky Cam sits at the 200 level in the Air Canada Centre and follows the puck red line to red line at six metres per second;
  • Ref Cam is on the referee’s helmet and puts fans on the ice to get in on face offs, breakaways and goals (the referee’s will not be mic’d up though, so don’t expect to hear player conversations);
  • POV Cam spotlights the hustle from inside the blue lines and for the first time inside the players’ benches;
  • Star Cam tracks a single player throughout the game no matter where the puck goes;
  • Goal Line Cam provides a top-down view of the ice, directly above the offensive action;
  • MyReplay lets fans select multiple replay angles to analyze key plays during the game, including goals, power plays, penalty kills, and the ref’s tough calls.

The above features are only available for select games each week plus the Winter Classic, All-Star game and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Rogers says they have invested $10 million to create this Rogers-only feature (no doubt hoping people will switch to Rogers and help pay off that investment). No word yet whether it will be offered in the future as a paid option to non-Rogers customers.

Seems as though a majority of the eight new angles will only be available for Toronto Maple Leafs games at the Air Canada Centre, though Rogers would like additional cameras such as the SkyCam to other Canadian arenas in the future. It will be interesting to see whether the new angles, especially SkyCam and RefCam will be used during live play on television or restricted solely to replays.

If you’re a Rogers customer with any internet or wireless data plan, you are eligible to access GamePlus with your free subscription until December 31, 2014. If you’re a Rogers customer who does not have any Rogers internet or wireless data plan, but have Rogers Home Phone or Rogers Digital TV (any package), and have subscribed to Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE, you are eligible to access GamePlus.


Dan — @SportsOnCdnTV

More CGI Advertising Possibly Coming to an NHL Broadcast Near You

During this weeks Islanders at Devils NHL pre-season game at the Prudential Center, the boarding all around the ice was tinted yellow and was apparently for testing CGI advertising. There was no television broadcast of the game, but superimposed advertising was visible on the inhouse video feed at times.

From Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice blog:

There was no telecast of tonight’s game, but a couple of times the ads showed up on the replays shown on the scoreboard’s video screen. (I saw one with a red McDonald’s ad that wrapped completely around the end boards). Otherwise, the CGI ads are not visible to those in the arena. (There are the regular ads on the board that you normally see, though.)

Select regional broadcasts in Canada and the US already used CGI advertising on the glass behind each goal, and I guess this is the next step for money-hungry cable sports networks. The difference and weirdness here is that they are covering up existing advertising with additional advertising. If I was a company with advertising signage, I’m not sure I’d be thrilled with my logo being covered up with a McDonald’s logo that wraps completely around the ice. No doubt those companies are paying for their #brand to be seen to fans in attendance as well as viewers at home.

Seems some of the players noticed the yellow tinting and weren’t too thrilled with it (from Fire & Ice again):

 “I don’t like that,” Devils’ Travis Zajac said. “Is it going to stay like that? I didn’t like it, hated it actually. I thought it was stupid. It doesn’t look right. You get used to it, but I still don’t like looking at it. That’s my opinion.”

There is no word on whether this was just a one-time test or whether it will be implemented during the regular season. Also unknown is whether this was a test run by local broadcaster MSG or something NBC was using for national broadcasts (this seems more likely). Lets be thankful though — if this green screen advertising does come to Canadian broadcasts — that it isn’t Rogers developing the technology as they continue to be the only MLB broadcast to use that horrifically bad CGI advertising during Jays home games in the batters eye and on the baselines.

roger-centre-advertising

 


Posted by Dan — @SportsOnCdnTV

Buffalo Sabres 2014-15 NHL Schedule on Bell TV

Buffalo_Sabres_Logo.svgGood news for Buffalo Sabres fans in the Niargara Falls / Fort Erie / very Southern Ontario region. The Sabres have announced that Bell TV will be showing select Sabres games again this season to those in the Buffalo viewing area. Provided at no additional charge, Bell Fibe and Bell Satellite customers can catch 53 games throughout the season on channel 1442. Games will not be available in the region on Game Centre Live or Centre Ice.

With this deal, along with 19 games available on Sportsnet / HNIC / FX Canada, Sabres fans will see all but nine regular season games for the upcoming season.

To see if you’re in the 50 km viewing area, the Sabres have a map here or you can search for your postal code on this PDF.

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Hockey Fans Can’t Comprehend NHL Blackout Rules

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.

Screenshot 2014-09-26 06.58.30

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)

OMNI Television To Offer NHL In 22 Languages This Season Including Punjabi Hockey Night In Canada

Omni-Television.svgPicking up where the CBC left off, OMNI Television will produce Hockey Night In Canada in Punjabi every Saturday night this season beginning October 11 with a doubleheader each week. Presumably, the early game will feature the Leafs and the late game featuring the Canucks and other Canadian NHL teams being broadcast if either of those teams aren’t in action.

In addition to the weekly games, OMNI will produce multilingual NHL content in 22 languages with a weekly Your Hockey segment and Hockey 101. Your Hockey will be a weekly segment in Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin and Italian that will screen during their respective national news broadcast beginning the week of September 29 and will include topics such as grassroots hockey, the ins-and-outs of minor hockey and profiles of hockey-related personalities in their community.

Hockey 101 will help new Canadians understand the basics of hockey including the rules of the game. It will premier in eight languages: English, French, Cantonese, Italian, Mandarin, Punjabi, Portuguese and Tagalog. Episodes will premier the week of September 29 on OMNI Television and online at OMNI.tv. An additional 14 languages — Arabic, Farsi, Greek, Hindi, Korean, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Somali, Tamil, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese — will be added to on-air and online broadcasts in the coming weeks.

OMNI Television has stations in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.