Breaking: Sportsnet, TSN, RDS Partner with CBC for 2014 Olympics

The 2014 Olympics begin in 365 days in Sochi, Russia. Today Sportsnet announced that they are the official cable broadcaster of the Games in Canada. This is just the latest partnership between the two networks which also includes the 2014 FIFA World Cup. I’ll have a lot more on this later, but for now here is a statement from Sportsnet.

Today marks the official one-year countdown to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia and Sportsnet is pleased to announce it has reached a sub-licensing deal with CBC to provide Canadians with comprehensive coverage of the Games.

Further platform distribution announcements are to come, but under the agreement Sportsnet is now an official cable broadcaster of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

As part of the sub-licensing deal, Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE will carry approximately 200 hours of 2014 Olympic Winter Games coverage, including coverage in prime time

And as did TSN and RDS, evidently. Somehow I missed this. Worth noting that TSN and RDS have shown every Olympics since 1998. Very impressive.

TSN and RDS are partnering with CBC/Radio-Canada to provide coverage of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Through the partnership, both networks will be able to bring viewers access to live events and coverage across TSN and RDS’s sports, news, and entertainment platforms.

TSN and RDS have been part of Canada’s Olympic tradition for the past three decades, setting the standard of excellence for delivering Olympic coverage during the Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 Games.

TSN and RDS will provide more details on this partnership and broadcast information in the near future.

And here is CBC’s press release with all that news and more. Read the bolded section closely. What’s coming next? Netflix for highlights?

Today marks the official one-year countdown to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and CBC/Radio-Canada is thrilled to bring the Olympic Games home to Canadians. As Canada’s Official Broadcaster, CBC/Radio-Canada brings Canadians cross-platform coverage of the top news and stories in the year leading up to Sochi 2014, running from February 7 – 23, 2014. With exclusive license arrangements, TSN, RDS, and Sportsnet will also present coverage of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Stay tuned – more platform distribution announcements to come.

“We’re incredibly proud to be the official home of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games,” said Kirstine Stewart, Executive Vice-President, English Services, CBC. “As we count down to Sochi 2014, we are committed to sharing the inspirational stories of our athletes, while providing Canadians with a robust Olympic Games experience, across all platforms.”
Louis Lalande, Executive Vice-President, Radio-Canada, added: “The Olympic Games have been part of Radio-Canada’s DNA for over fifty years. It is with great anticipation that we prepare for Sochi 2014. We aim to offer viewers from coast to coast a distinct coverage that will allow them to live and breathe with our athletes on this most prestigious stage.”
Click here for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games English Promo.
CBC/Radio-Canada is the place to be as we count down to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. With coverage across all platforms – including TV, radio, online, and mobile – Canadians can connect with the biggest stories and the latest content whenever and wherever they want it. Through world-class storytelling and the best performance coverage available, CBC/Radio-Canada will introduce viewers to Canadian athletes poised to take on the world in 2014. Canadians can engage with CBC/Radio-Canada leading up to and throughout the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games online in English at CBC.ca/Olympics and in French at Radio-Canada.ca/Olympiques, as well as on Twitter in English at @cbcolympics (#cbcolympics), and in French at @RC_Sports (#RColympiques).
The countdown to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi was in full-swing this week on CBC, with extensive programming on all platforms. Throughout the week, viewers have enjoyed extensive coverage, with stories from Sochi and beyond, as well as a look at Canada’s Olympians as they prepare for the Games.

2012 Olympics: Full schedule and CTV lineup

It may have taken awhile, but the Bell/Rogers Alliance have finally released today their full daily line-up for the 2012 London Olympics, due to begin in two weeks from today.

Viewers can head to CTVOlympics.ca/guide and RDSolympiques.ca/leguide for a fully interactive guide of every event being screened across the two websites and nine networks during the 5,500 hours of coverage over the two weeks. All medal events are highlighted, as will be live events, with direct access to the live online stream.

CTV will feature 22 hours of coverage per day, with a breakdown that looks like this:

4 am to 11:30 am ET: LIVE Olympic Morning
11:30 am to 6 pm ET: LIVE Olympic Daytime
6 pm to 7 pm (local): CTV News
7 pm to 11 pm (local): Olympic Primetime
11 pm to 11:30 pm (local): CTV National News
11:30 pm to Midnight (local): CTV News
Midnight to 4 am ET: Olympic Overnight (Olympic Primetime Encore)

The full press release can be read after the break.

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Big CTV Olympics Broadcast News Tomorrow

CTV will unveil details of the Bell Olympic Viewers’ Guide tomorrow. I hope to have any press releases sometime tomorrow afternoon. I’ll post more on it sometime tomorrow evening. The Olympics are only 17 days away.

By the way, if you have a chance to catch an encore of Cybulski & Company for today (I’m not sure if it is available on-demand on TSN.ca or not), do it. Brian Williams joined the show for the last hour. He had a few great stories.

Bell/CBC Drop Joint Bid on 2014/16 Olympics

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Bell Media have announced they will not bid together on the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games. The two broadcasting corporations announced they would form a consortium to bid on and broadcast those events. However, it seems they were not willing to pay what the International Olympic Committee was asking. The IOC had already rejected two separate bids from the networks. It seems they have decided a third bid wasn’t worth it.

According to reports the first bid from Bell/CBC was worth around $70 million, while the second was slightly higher at $80 million. Neither were close to what the IOC was looking for.

This development raises a serious possibility that no Canadian broadcast will pay the IOC’s steep price for the 2014/16 Olympics. That would leave Canadians with NBC as the only choice for television coverage. While Bell have said they won’t pursue the Olympic anymore, CBC left the door open for a future bid. That bid could come alone, or with a partner. While Shaw Media have not shown any interest in sports over the past year, the media giant seems intrigued by the Olympics. In an interview with Cartt.ca (subscription required) Shaw Media President Paul Robertson said of a possible Olympic bid by Shaw, “I would consider it, yes I would.”

There are also reports of Yahoo bidding for rights, then exclusively streaming their coverage online. While Canada would make a good test market for possible future bids in a country like America, I just don’t know if it is worth it for such a small market size. If Bell, who want their hands on every sports event Canadians watch, and CBC, who take great pride in showing Canadian amateur athletes, didn’t want to pay enough, I have a hard time believing Yahoo will. Or any other new media provider for that matter.

At this point I can’t see any bids on the Olympics until the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed later this summer (hopefully). Even then at could be until after the next NHL national TV contract is signed before CBC will bid again. That could take until the summer of 2013, or longer, leaving less than a year to go before Sochi 2014. I think a joint bid between CBC and Shaw is an interesting possibility. Shaw doesn’t have a sports department; however, many Olympic production and on-air staff are freelancers anyway. Or are people who currently work for CTV Olympics. In such a case Shaw would provide the money, while CBC would provide many experienced commentators.

And then of course the possibility exists that nobody will buy the rights. Could it happen? Sure. It almost did in Australia in 1988. It is what Canadian Dick Pound, a former IOC employee who oversaw the 1988 bid, predicted as a strong possibility. The IOC would certainly face a public relations nightmare if Canadian hockey games in 2014 aren’t on TV. In the end they may have to drop their asking price.

Yahoo! to Bid for Canadian Olympic Broadcasting Rights?

I came across a very interesting story in The Globe and Mail this morning. There were to pieces of information in The Globe story that were of interest. The first, unsurprisingly, is CBC and Bell resubmitted their 2014/2016 Olympic broadcasting bid to the IOC, presumably at a slightly higher price tag than the approximately $70 million bid the IOC rejected earlier this year. As expected, CBC and Bell are reluctant to pay big money until the NHL and NHLPA confirm that hockey’s biggest stars will play in Sochi.

What is possibly more interesting is that Yahoo Canada is considering a bid for the Games. Yahoo doesn’t have a conventional TV station in Canada, although presumably if they won rights they could sub-license some coverage to a conventional broadcaster. Instead coverage would be streamed online. While more and more Canadians are turning to internet streaming, it still doesn’t have the reach of conventional television broadcasting. Yahoo also has other problems, such as having no commentators or production staff with less than two years to go until the Sochi Olympics.

CBC/Bell will probably bid again once the status of NHL players for the 2014 Olympics is confirmed in the summer. The broadcasters will either raise their bid, or the IOC will lower their expectations at that time. Unconventional broadcasters, such as Yahoo, could cause the bidding to go up, but in the end I think the IOC is likely to award rights to CBC/Bell.

EDIT: According to Ollie Williams, who has knowledge of how Olympic broadcasts work, Yahoo would have time to put a production together in less than two years, if need be. As long as Yahoo could get the right executive team in place, finding production staff and commentators wouldn’t be too hard.

2002 Olympic Moment: 10 Years Ago Today

There are some memories in Canadian sports that stick with us better than others. It was ten years ago today that Jamie Sale and David Pelletier received their gold medals at the 2002 Olympics. Many will remember that a judging scandal caused the Canadian pair to finish second to the Russians. After an investigation after the February 11 competition, the Canadians finally received their gold medals (along with the Russians) in a second medal ceremony on February 17. I remember watching both CBC and NBC’s coverage throughout those few days during these unprecedented events. Of course this also changed figure skating forever as a new judging system was introduced. Here is a video of the medal ceremony. You can continue after the break to see the Canadians’ free skate.

Some of my best Olympic memories come from the 2002 Salt Lake City games. If anyone has any of their favourite Salt Lake 2002 memories to share, please leave a comment.

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IOC Rejects CBC/Bell Olympic Bid

In a column this morning, Rick Westhead of The Toronto Star reports that the International Olympic Committee has rejected CBC and Bell’s bid to broadcast the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games because it is too low. According to the article, CBC and Bell offered the IOC $70 million for the rights to the Games in Sochi and Rio. CTV and Rogers paid $153 million for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the upcoming Summer Olympics in London. CBC paid $73 million for rights to the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. It is unheard of for Olympic broadcasting fees to go down, usually they substantially rise. NBC’s bid for the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 Olympics averaged about $1.1 Billion per Olympics, which is the same as the average price they paid for the 2010 and 2012 Olympics.

CBC and Bell first announced they would bid together for the Olympics in September, following the announcement that Bell’s partner for the 2010 and 2012 Olympics, Rogers, has opted out of their deal with Bell. Rogers executives have stated that they won’t bid for the upcoming Games in Sochi and Rio. Aside from CBC/Bell, there are no serious bidders for the 2014/2016 package in Canada. As a result CBC/Bell will want to bid as low as possible; however, the IOC has an option to reject all bids if none are up to their standards. This means it is possible, although unlikely, that nobody will broadcast the 2014 and 2016 Olympics in Canada.

In order to push CBC out of Olympic broadcasting, CTV and Rogers overbid on the 2010/2012 package, inflating the base price in the Canadian market. Nobody expects CBC/Bell to pay anywhere near the 2010/2012 rate, mainly because there isn’t a home Olympics in this package. However, when compared with 2006/2008, the fee for 2014/2016 should be higher based on the host cities alone; even without taking other factors into consideration. The 2006 Olympics were in Turin, which is 6 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone. Most events took place while Canadians were at work, but a few hockey games and figure skating programs (two of the highest rated Winter Olympic sports in Canada) took place in the late afternoon Eastern, allowing Canadians to catch the conclusion as they came home from work or school. Most viewed the games on tape delay in primetime. Sochi is 8 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone, which means that viewing habits will be similar to 2006. On the other hand, Rio is in the same time zone as the Maritimes during our summer. This will mean that major sports like athletics, gymnastics and swimming will take place in North American primetime.

These factors should increase the value of the games based on the 2006/2008 package. I’d guess somewhere around 80 million; maybe more. I don’t know what more the IOC could ask for considering how bad it would look on them if the Olympics weren’t broadcast to a major country like Canada. If NHL players confirm their participation in the 2014 Olympics, then CBC and Bell would probably bid more. This issue is a major topic in the upcoming NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining talks. CBC/Bell originally intended to submit two bids, one if NHL players participate and one in case they don’t. According to the article in The Star, the IOC rejected that idea. As a result, I could see CBC/Bell waiting a few more months to see what decision the NHL and its players make on playing in 2014. Olympic hockey, with NHL players, is what brings in viewers and sells ads. Without it, CBC/Bell would lose even more money on the Olympics.

One problem that CBC and Bell face is time. The Sochi Olympics are only about two years away. Test events in alpine skiing take place this Feburary. Everyone else is preparing for Sochi. The good news is that CTV already has an Olympic production crew in place. CBC also has plenty of employees – both on and off camera – with Olympic experience. I wouldn’t worry about the lack of a deal until fall, after the London Games are done. I think CBC/Bell and the IOC will work something out. There is too much to lose on both sides if the Olympics aren’t broadcast in Canada. CBC relies on the name recognition of athletes at the Olympics to boost their weekly amateur sports programs.