2015 Toronto Blue Jays on Sportsnet

The Toronto Blue Jays’ 2015 season begins Monday and as usual, Sportsnet will cover all 162 games. The four regional Sportsnet channels will have 131 of the games with Sportsnet One picking up the remaining 31. A majority of those 31 will occur during the NHL playoffs. 60 games will be on TVA Sports for those of the French-language and all covered by The Fan 590 on the ol’ wireless radio.

The usual heads return to call the action — on the TV side are Buck Martinez, Pat Tabler and Joe Siddall, and in the radio booth will be Jerry Howarth, Joe Siddall and Mike Wilner.

The full schedule as listed on the Jays website is below. The September 26 game will be on Sportsnet despite not being listed.

2015 blue jays sked

NHL On Rogers: Ratings Are Down, Rating Are Flawed

David Shoalts over at The Globe & Mail has published two fantastic pieces in the past two months on the slow start and low ratings Rogers has been getting in the first six months of their $5.2-billion, 12-year television and online deal with the NHL. Rogers promised advertisers before the season began of a 20% increase in viewers in their first season of the new deal and jacked up advertising rates to match that. That number currently sits at only 11%. Either Rogers underestimated just how much NHL Canadians want to watch, or the more likely scenario (especially if you frequent hockey discussions online) is that Rogers has ruined what was a perfectly good product in Hockey Night In Canada with flashy sets and terrible personalities.

Shoalts’ first article from December focused on the ratings numbers. The Saturday night early game was up just 9% — this is a combined rating of all 7pm games across the Rogers’ networks. The late west coast Saturday game though is down 17%, despite two games generally being shown this season compared to mostly a single CBC game last year. The Wednesday night national slot is doing better than last year with a 26% increase. Sunday night’s Hometown Hockey though.. oh, boy! Rogers say the ratings on City are better than whatever trash City was showing on a Sunday night last season, but some games have been getting well under half a million viewers, something that has rarely happened in past years when a Canadian team plays on national television.

Shoalts’ second article on the subject published last week sent everybody into pained laughter with Sportsnet president Scott Moore blaming Numeris, the company in charge of collecting television and radio ratings in Canada, on Rogers’ low NHL ratings halfway into the season. The quote came on the heels of ratings for the All-Star game drawing one-million less viewers than the last All-Star game in 2012 (1.479 millions versus 2.454 million). The Skills competition (800k less) and Fantasy Draft (600k less) were also down on 2012 numbers. The Winter Classic number was also down (1 million versus 3.6 million last year) though that can somewhat be explained by last year’s game featuring Toronto and this year’s being an all-U.S. matchup. 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.

Continue reading

Sportsnet 590 The Fan Shuffles Lineup; Tim & Sid Moving Back to TV

We don’t really cover much radio around these parts, probably due to the fact that there are no national stations in Canada and that only a small amount of people listen to sports radio compared to watching sports television programming. That said, an announcement from Sportsnet earlier in the week has made big news (big for radio that is) in the Toronto area and in a way, has an impact on those elsewhere in the country.

Firstly, the only good news, at least in the eyes of this author. Tim and Sid, who have been hosting the dead zone afternoon shift of 1pm to 4pm since December 2011, will be moving back to national television starting July 1 hosting their own show between 5pm–7pm ET. I personally consider this good news as the duo were great when they did their Live @ The Score show and then their satellite radio show. After moving to The Fan, the show bloated out from one hour to three, which a lot of the time was filled by plucking a Sportsnet talking head from the hallway and having them come into the studio for a segment or two. Add in the over the top sound effects and such, and I soon stopped listening after six months or so.

No word yet on how their new show is going to be formatted. It could be similar to the old Live @ The Score days and be some competition for Sportscentre on TSN. It could be a format similar to other “TSN” programming it will be going up against such as Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn. It could also be a mashup of all of those or something completely different. Rogers only said the show will be airing on Sportsnet. They didn’t specify whether this means it airs on Sportsnet 360 to replace the radio simulcast of Bob McCown or whether it will run on the regional Sportsnet channels, replacing Connected and going head-to-head against McCown. The latter option seems the most unlikely.

Now the bad news. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to Brady & Walker, but from what I read online, opinions of them seem to be very mixed. Who I have unfortunately listened to and heard numerous things about is Dean Blundell. Blundell will take over the morning show with Andrew Walker as cohost on March 2 (NHL Trade Deadline Day). Blundell is most-known for formerly hosting Toronto alternate station The Edge’s morning show until he was fired after numerous instances of making homophobic, offensive and insensitive comments on air. He apparently did some horrible guest hosting during the dead zone summer months on The Fan and this somehow led to Program Director Don Kollins offering him the second most prominent timeslot in radio. Greg Brady seems to be getting screwed the most in this. He moves from the highly-rated breakfast show to the afternoon graveyard.

The truly weird thing about all of this is that The Fan wasn’t doing horrible in the ratings. Like, at all. They have been constantly beating TSN 1050 Toronto in the highly important demo of males aged 25–54 ever since TSN Toronto launched. Chris Zelkovich of Yahoo Sports reports that in the latest fall ratings, Brady & Walker were rating three times higher than Mike Richards on TSN and in the afternoon slot, Prime Time Sports crushed Dave Naylor with five times the ratings. Courtesy of Toronto Sports Media, here are the ratings from this past spring in males 25–54:

  • Brady & Walker: 8.5 | Richards: 4.9
  • The Jeff Blair Show: 7.4 | Macko & Cauz: 2.4
  • FAN 590 12-1pm (Hockey Central) : 7.6 | TSN 1050 12-1pm (Leafs Lunch): 2.9
  • Tim & Sid: 7.6 | TSN 1050 1-4pm (Hayes): 2.7
  • PTS: 7.9 | TSN Drive with Dave Naylor: 2.0

So, numbers don’t seem to be the reason for the change. One possibility is that the suits at Sportsnet wanted Tim & Sid on back on television to go against TSN in the early evening slot. If this was the case, maybe Kollins took the opportunity to rearrange the entire lineup to fill the afternoon void? It will be an interesting experiment to watch… from afar anyway – I’m not going near that garbage fire of a lineup.

Here is the new lineup beginning in spring – a bunch of old, white men.

5:30–9am ET – Dean Blundell & Co.
9am–12pm ET – The Jeff Blair Show
12pm–1pm ET – Hockey Central @ Noon
1–4pm ET – Greg Brady
4–7pm ET – Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown

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.

Five More Years Of Buck and Pat On Blue Jays Games

Sportsnet Blue Jays Bingo Card

Sportsnet Blue Jays Bingo Card

In what is only good news for the guy that runs BuckBlunders.com, Sportsnet have re-signed play-by-play guy Buck Martinez and analyst Pat Tabler to call all the disappointing action of the Toronto Blue Jays for another five years. The duo have been broadcasting together for the past four years.

Sure, there are worse announcers in MLB, but there are also a tonne who don’t screw up players names, home run calls and aren’t blatantly rooting for the team they are calling. If you’ve heard Martinez as an analyst on a TBS post-season broadcast, he actually isn’t too bad in that role when not required to be constantly talking. That said, it looks like he has been dropped for the upcoming post-season.

I will concede I don’t watch Jays games regularly, so maybe I just miss any good moments from them, but I try to avoid their commentary and Sportsnet’s broadcast in general, especially with those horrible superimposed advertisements, something that no other broadcast in baseball is doing (for a reason). This is just one man’s opinion.

You can read the full press release from Sportsnet here along with the comments section that is mostly trashing the pair (beware the stupid auto-play video).

And the Face of Hockey on TV for the Next 12 Years is… George Stroumboulopoulos?

TSN’s Bob McKenzie, proving that he is still the top insider in the game, reported Sunday evening that CBC talk-show host, and former Much VJ, George Stroumboulopoulos is expected to become the new host of Rogers’ Hockey Night in Canada this fall. McKenzie also reports that Don Cherry will continue to offer analysis in the Coach’s Corner, at least for two seasons. Ron MacLean will also still have a job, albeit it in a reduced role. It also looks like Sportsnet has passed on current NHL host Darren Millard, who was on-hand when Sportsnet announced the new contract in November.

Stroumboulopoulos is an interesting choice by Sportsnet, but his hiring does follow a pattern. Since acquiring the package in November, Sportsnet’s President of Hockey Scott Moore has consistently talked about telling the stories of players, at the expense of the analysis and business talk that dominates CBC and TSN’s national broadcasts. When Moore hired Gord Cutler as the Senior VP of Hockey a month ago, Cutler re-iterated Sportsnet’s plan of storytelling. MacLean has a history of taking a harsh stand on some NHL business issues, including officiating. So, it makes sense that Sportsnet does not want to give him the most air time. On the other hand, Stroumboulopoulos has spent most of his time hosting pop culture shows on Much and CBC. Telling the life story of the people he interviews is a big part of his show.

He is also an interesting choice because Sportsnet wants their broadcasts to appeal to all Canadians, including new immigrants. Moore has also often repeated this point over the past few months. Stroumboulopoulos is a second generation Canadian, with a Greek father from Egypt and Ukrainian mother. If he doesn’t appeal to first and second generation Canadians, then who will? Considering Canada’s aging population, getting new Canadians to buy into hockey, instead of soccer or basketball, will become more and more important over Sportsnet’s 12 year contract.

This is the first change of the face of Hockey Night in Canada since Ron MacLean replaced Dave Hodge following the infamous flip of the pen in 1987. I’m not a big fan of the choice of Stroumboulopoulos. I would have preferred a hockey guy such as Elliotte Friedman. Sportsnet will likely confirm the appointment later this week, so stay tuned for updates.

beIN Sport Now Available… Fans of La Liga and Serie A have went a season and a half without access to their favourite teams on Canadian TV. Now beIN Sport is finally available. It is on free preview on Bell and Rogers until April, when it will cost $15 a month. Coincidentally Bell and Rogers are also the two Canadian providers that have dropped, or will soon drop, Speed. However, Speed is still available on Shaw Direct, among other regional cable providers, for those who absolutely need their motorsports fix.

Sportsnet Announces Details of their NHL Coverage Plan

This afternoon Rogers announced the first major details of how their suite of channels and platforms will cover the NHL beginning in the fall. Sportsnet is promising 500 games per season (it is unclear if this includes regional games in the west, or not). Rogers will have three signature windows. Hockey Night in Canada will continue on Saturday nights, with up to 7 games broadcast on CBC, City, Sportsnet, SN1, SN360 and FX Canada. 3-5 games will air in the 7pm ET timeslot, with 1-2 following at 10pm ET. Rogers is also adding a second national over-the-air timeslot on Sunday when City will show a game at 7:30pm ET, with a pre-game show a half hour before.

Saturdays will continue as the cornerstone of hockey broadcasting in Canada. Rogers is promising more than 130 games, which is an average of 5 per week. Anywhere between four and seven games will air each Saturday, with a guaranteed three games at 7pm ET and one or two more at 10pm ET. There is also the option for matinees. Sportsnet’s extended pregame show will begin at 5pm ET. It looks like about four games featuring Canadian teams will air every Saturday, for a total of about 100 games. That leaves 30 or more games featuring a pair of American teams.

Rogers is branding City’s Sunday broadcast as “Hometown Hockey”. The broadcasts will originate from local community rinks across the country. I think showing Sunday’s game on City is a fantastic idea as the network looks to make a dent on CTV and Global. City’s highest rated weekly program is usually How I Met Your Mother, which pulls in around 1.5 million viewers on Monday nights. However, the Grammy’s, a Sunday night broadcast last week, pulled in almost 3 million viewers. It was the highest rated program in Canada between January 20-26. CTV and Global have consistently beat City for Sunday ratings over the years. Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE will also show games on Sundays. If I had to guess, these will be NBC simulcasts.

With all of the change in the new contract, Wednesdays will mostly remain as they air now (with games on Sportsnet instead of TSN). Sportsnet will show 30 games on Wednesday nights, including a few doubleheaders. This is almost identical to TSN’s current Wednesday Night Hockey schedule. Sportsnet ONE will show NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry matchups, just as TSN2 does now.

Thursday night games will air on Sportsnet 360, featuring American teams. I believe this was originally announced as a Friday package. Rogers hasn’t announced how many games will air on SN360 on Thursday; however, one game per week will equal out to about 25 per season. The most interesting thing about this package is that NBCSN does not show games on most Thursdays. This means that Sportsnet will either produce games featuring two American teams, or rely on local US broadcasts. Considering Rogers wants to look professional and have a world class broadcast, I hope they opt for the former.

One burning other burning question was answered today, even if only in a limited way. Many fans are wondering how many times they can see their favourite team on national TV under the new deal. Sportsnet announced that 40 Leafs games will air nationally on CBC, City and Sportsnet. That is the same number as TSN (17) and CBC (23) combine to show under the current contract. Since TSN has rights to 60 regional Jets games, about 22 of their games will air on national TV. Up to 30 Senators games can air on CBC/Rogers channels. However, it is still unknown how many times other Canadian teams will get on national TV.

The number for the Canadiens is somewhat dependent on where their regional rights land. Rogers has announced that TVA will air 22 Canadiens games, with most of them likely to air on Saturday nights. But surely Rogers will get to show at least a few games on Sunday and Wednesday, even if RDS makes Tuesday its main night to show regional Canadiens games. Under the current contract around 45 Canadiens games air on CBC and TSN each season.

Since Sportsnet owns rights to all 82 games for each of the Canucks, Oilers and Flames (regionally and nationally), it is also still unknown how many times each of these teams can air nationally. However, based on regional contracts, Rogers can show at least 24 games for each. If i had to guess, Rogers will show each team at least 30 times since the Senators regional contract allows for that number of national telecasts.

Next I plan to break down Sportsnet’s promise of 500 games nationally. 100 of those are US vs. US matchups on Sportsnet 360 or Sportsnet ONE. A total of 52 are “Hometown Hockey” on City and Wednesday night games on Sportsnet. Around 100 will probably feature Canadian teams on Saturdays (remember some of the 130 Saturday games are also counted in SN360/SN1’s 100 games). That leaves 250 games unaccounted for.

Rogers Re-news MLB Contract Through 2021

Just six weeks after Rogers became the new national rightsholder for NHL games in Canada, Sportsnet has signed an eight year extension to broadcast its traditional anchor sport, baseball. Sportsnet’s new contract, which includes exclusive rights through 2021, looks very similar to the contract that just came to an end. Sportsnet will show around 300 MLB games each season, including the All Star Game and all postseason matchups. Financial terms were not released.

Rogers Cable has also added MLB Network to its offerings. It is available in Ontario on channel 415 and is on free preview through the end of April. Last year Rogers sponsored MLB Network’s application to became an approved channel in Canada.

’24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the Winter Classic’ on Sportsnet and City

One year delayed, we will finally get to see HBO’s 24/7 documentary series on the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs leading up to their much-anticipated Winter Classic match on New Year’s Day, beginning this Sunday night on Sportsnet.

Good news: You’ll have multiple opportunities to watch each episode across the multitude of Sportsnet channels as well as on your local City station. Bad news: None of the airings will be uncensored, something that this series is renowned for.

Rogers says that the uncensored version will be available on-demand via its City channels 48 hours after the premiere. Of course, a quicker and more practical solution is to fire up your torrent machine and download the uncensored HBO episode on Saturday night. Yes, you read that right — HBO in the US is showing the series on Saturday nights, and Canada, always the ugly duckling, will get it a day later.

Trailer and episode times after below. Continue reading

2014 FIFA World Cup Draw on Sportsnet

2014 FIFA World CupThe 32 teams that will be competing in next year’s FIFA World Cup will know their fate tomorrow (December 6) as ping-pong balls will be drawn from Tupperware containers to determine the the draw / venues / dates for the biggest sporting event in the world.

Sportsnet has extensive coverage of the draw from Costa do Sauipe, Brazil. Gerry Dobson, Craig Forrest and Danny Dichio will host the show, Brad Fay will provide news and social media updates, former Canadian international Dick Howard will report live from the draw and ITV’s Andy Townsend will join the panel live from London. Scott Russell of CBC Sports will preview the World Cup broadcast on CBC and Sportsnet next summer.

Friday’s Schedule
10:30–11:00am: Preview Show
11:00am–12:30pm: Final Draw Live
12:30–1:30pm: Post Show

CBC will also broadcast the draw on their website

Rumour: TSN Re-sign Their “Big Three” Hockey Guys

NHL on TSNTake this as speculation for now, but Toronto Sports Media is reporting that TSN have re-signed James Duthie, Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie to long term deals.

This post will be updated should we TSN confirm this news, but judging from these two tweets last night from McKenzie, we think TSM is on the money here.

Details of Sportsnet’s New NHL Broadcast Agreement

Sportsnet officially announced their new broadcast contract with the National Hockey League this morning. And the scope of the new deal is much wider than I could have imagined when news of it first broke 12 hours ago. Sportsnet has bought rights to all nationally-broadcast NHL games for 12 seasons beginning next fall. Sportsnet also picks up rights to the NHL All Star Game and Entry Draft. Rogers will also take over operation of NHL Centre Ice and GameCentre Live in Canada. Rogers is paying $5.2 billion for rights to every game for 12 seasons. The NHL will receive approximately $300 million next season, with fees raising to $500 million by the end of the contract.

Coverage on Saturdays and Sundays will begin at 4pm Eastern. Sportsnet has exclusive national coverage on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. Sportsnet will also launch a new studio that will host all NHL on Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. As part of the deal Rogers will sub-license some Saturday night coverage to the CBC. Two games every Saturday will air on CBC, with the rest airing on Citytv and Sportsnet. This eliminates the need for regional broadcasting. Sportsnet will assume complete creative control over all Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. This means the future for CBC’s hockey talent is uncertain. It also means that Sportsnet will have the pick of all on-air personalities at TSN and CBC for their new broadcasts. Games will air on CBC, Sportsnet, SN1, SN360, TVA, TVA Sports, TVA Sports 2, as well as other potential channels on Saturday nights.

Keith Pelley, who was key in the plans for how Sportsnet will cover the NHL, was also the head of the Olympic Broadcast Consortium’s Vancouver 2010 coverage. Sportsnet will aim to offer Hockey Night in Canada in a similar fashion with all networks pooling resources and cross-promoting. Pelley set a new standard for Olympic broadcasting in Canada and is looking to do the same for hockey. Since the Sportsnet deal with CBC only came together in the past few days the broadcasters haven’t decided which CBC on-air personalities will transfer over to Sportsnet.

Sportsnet will get to show 30 Leafs games nationally (some could air on CBC) as part of the new agreement. Sportsnet will retain 26 for regional consumption beginning in 2016, with the other 26 airing on TSN regionally.  Since TSN has regional rights to 60 Jets games, the Jets will appear on Sportsnet a maximum of 22 times. It is unclear how many games for each of Canada’s other five teams will air on Sportsnet. TVA will pick up rights to 22 Montreal Canadiens games, most of which will air on their over-the-air channel on Saturday nights.

The sub-licensing deal with the CBC is one of the most intriguing aspects of the deal. The CBC will have around 320 hours of primetime hockey. That probably equates to around 50 regular season games and 50 playoff games. There is no word yet on how CBC and Sportsnet will split-up the playoffs, except that the Stanley Cup Final will air on CBC. The sub-license will last for four years; however, in a news conference Rogers Media President Keith Pelley said that he hopes the deal with CBC can extend beyond four years. The CBC and Sportsnet will also work together to acquire and broadcast other major sports properties. Sub-licensing deals are already in place for the two networks to split the Grand Slam of Curling and 2014 FIFA World Cup.

In a letter to CBC employees President Hubert Lacroix outlined what the four-year deal means for the public broadcaster. CBC will no longer assume any control over production or content, although Sportsnet will consult with them. CBC also will not make any advertising revenue from the broadcasts; however, they also are not paying Rogers or the NHL a cent to show the games. Lacroix also notes that the loss of advertising revenue will mean job losses at the CBC. These additional cuts come on the heels of CBC Sports cutting costs just two years ago due to a lack of funding.

This is a very complex deal and there are many questions that still need asked and answered. It is a complete game-changer in Canadian sports broadcasting and will result in many changes at CBC and TSN. I’ll leave the speculation, and there is lots of it, for a later date (and the comments section). I do plan to look into the effects this deal will have on all networks, but especially the CBC, in the coming weeks.

TSN Left Out of NHL Broadcasting From 2014

The future of Saturday night games on Canadian TV.

The future of Saturday night games on Canadian TV.

UPDATE: See this post for the latest on the Sportsnet deal.

Sportsnet has confirmed the deal this morning. Rogers will own the rights to every NHL broadcast in Canada, paying $5.2 billion for the next 12 years. Rogers will sub-licence games to CBC for Hockey Night in Canada, playoffs and the Stanley Cup. CBC will no longer be the only network showing hockey on a Saturday night with City now in the mix (see graphic on right). Rogers has the exclusive window to broadcast any Canadian team on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday. TVA Sports will have French-language coverage.


“Hockey No Longer Lives Here” will presumably be TSN’s new tagline next fall. That after TSN lost NHL TV rights to CBC and Sportsnet. The news first surfaced when Bob McKenzie tweeted that two networks had acquired the new NHL national television contract that takes effect next season. That tweet, from hockey’s best insider, flew in the face of everything that everyone has reported in the past week. As recently as this morning, publications had reported that the NHL would sell smaller packages to CBC, TSN and Sportsnet to maximize exposure and revenue.

Well, it turns out that somehow TSN has missed out as McKenzie has now confirmed that CBC and Sportsnet have picked up NHL rights for 12 seasons beginning next fall. While more information will probably become available in the morning in terms of which network will broadcast which games. According to reports CBC will keep most of what they have now. Sportsnet will replace TSN as the national cable broadcaster, with Sunday night the likely landing spot for an exclusive weekly broadcast. Sportsnet will also likely have one exclusive conference final.

Steve Ladurantaye of The Globe reported Monday that CBC will like pay around $200 million per year. The Globe article also stated that the CBC could lose $175 million in advertising revenue without the NHL. So, it is clear that even at a $200 million pricetag the CBC would have been out almost as much money without broadcasting the NHL as it is paying the hefty fee the NHL is requesting to show games.

In another report earlier Monday, Chris Botta of Sports Business Daily reported that all three networks would get a slice of the NHL pie. In the piece Botta reported that TSN was likely to retain Wednesday Night Hockey and add the All Star Game. With the recent developments it is unclear whether Sportsnet will offer national broadcasts on Wednesday night or whether CBC or Sportsnet will show the All Star Game. Botta projected that Sportsnet and TSN’s deals would be worth over $125 million combined, which means Sportsnet likely paid upwards of $150 million for exclusivity.

In losing TSN, the NHL has lost a partner that revolutionized broadcasting of the league. Day-long trade deadline and free agent coverage were TSN innovations. As was TV coverage of the NHL draft and even the All Star Game fantasy draft. The NHL also loses TSN’s in-game coverage, which featured award-winning broadcasters like Chris Cuthbert, James Duthie and Bob McKenzie.

However, the bigger loss is undoubtedly for TSN. It’s not the end for TSN, as some were quick to project. They still have CFL and curling locked up in long-term contracts (which, yes, a lot of people do watch). TSN also has the World Juniors locked up for a decade in a new contract that kicks in this December. The NHL can live without TSN because the network will still bid aggressively in 12 years. That’s in comparison to CBC, who probably would be out of broadcasting hockey for good if they had lost NHL rights for over a decade.

So, to recap. TSN has the CFL through 2018, Season of Champions curling through 2020 and World Juniors through 2023. Those are the most valuable sports properties in Canada outside of the Olympics, NHL and NFL. The Canadian Hockey League will also sign a new contract in the coming year, which TSN is probably now very interested in.

TSN will have to worry about an exodus of its esteemed hockey talent following this season. Is there room for both Chris Cuthbert and Gord Miller at a network with no weekly national hockey broadcasts? I doubt it. Miller has worked at TSN since 1990 and called World Junior games since 2002; however, Cuthbert is TSN’s most valuable voice since he also calls the Grey Cup. I wonder if Miller and Ray Ferraro are a natural choice for Sportsnet’s primary broadcast crew. Another question is where will James Duthie go? Surely not back to SportsCentre. While he’d make sense at the helm of TSN’s CFL coverage that would come at the expense of long time TSN employee Dave Randorf. Maybe he’ll follow the example of fellow highly-touted TSN employees Dan O’Toole and Jay Onrait and look south of the 49th.

Remember the night of November 25th, 2013 everyone. It is a landmark in Canadian sports broadcasting that could lead to Sportsnet becoming the top-rated sports network in Canada. Of course this landmark is really just the latest occurrence in a trend that began in 2010 when Scott Moore left CBC and Keith Pelley left CTV to lead Rogers’ broadcasting division.

Burgundy to TSN… While TSN has lost hockey, they have gained Ron Burgundy. That’s right, the fake news anchor from the movie Anchorman. Burgundy, played by Will Ferrell, will join Vic Rauter in the broadcast booth for TSN’s coverage of the first draw of the Olympic Curling Trials on Sunday afternoon. Now, I love Anchorman as much as anybody, but this is a ridiculous ploy for attention. It only promotes the idea that curling needs a gimmick to draw in viewers, which isn’t true in my opinion. Not only is TSN trying this gimmick, but they are doing it at the biggest Canadian curling event on the calendar. But then again, it’s a gimmick that will work because even I will tune in to see what Ferrell knows about curling.

Grey Cup ratings… An average of 4.5 million Canadians tuned into TSN for the 101st Grey Cup from Regina Sunday evening. That makes it the fourth most watched Grey Cup ever on TSN, which is mildly impressive considering it was a blowout by halftime. A ratings peak in the second quarter exemplifies this. But isn’t so impressive when considered that it is the lowest rated Grey Cup on TSN since BBM introduced Portable People Metres to measure audiences in 2009. Ratings are down a million viewers compared to last season, despite a victory for the league’s most popular team. However, regular season CFL ratings were up 4.3% this year.

Post-Long Weekend News and Notes

EDIT!! I forgot to include one news item. This is why you shouldn’t blog at six in the morning. See point below.

• It is becoming more and more common to see bloggers slowly moving their way up in the digital world, from no-names living in their parents’ basement to B-list television stars. The biggest Canadian names to make this transition happened last week when The Basketball Jones finally broke their summer silence and announced they have joined NBA TV in Atlanta under the new name of The Starters. I became a fan way back when J.E. Skeets and Tas Melas were filming daily podcasts in their apartment (even before that, it was audio only). Along with producers JD and Matt Osten, they joined The Score in 2010 where their daily videos were professionally filmed/produced and they co-hosted Court Surfing each week. Along the way, Trey Kirby joined them from Yahoo Sports and Score employee Leigh Ellis made up the sixth member. With Rogers buying The Score, their future seemed up in the air and hence the move to greener pastures occurred. Here’s the video announcement from the NBA on TNT crew:

• If you’re a Buffalo Sabres fan and happen to live within 50 miles of the city, Bell TV has some good news for you as they will show 50 games during the regular season on a free specialty “Sabres TV” channel on both Bell Fibe and Bell Satellite. The 50-mile radius is from Fort Erie and Niagara to Stoney Creek just south of Hamilton. I’m sure all the folks in Windsor would love to see a similar deal made with the Detroit Red Wings, which has a much larger fan base on this side of the border than Buffalo.

• Bell has also made a deal with the NBA that will allow Bell customers to watch new weekly NBA content on their phones and tablets, featuring player profiles, rookie features and courtside content; and Bell Mobile TV will have daily NBA highlights during the regular season and playoffs. Sadly, there is no mention of NBA League Pass finally being available to Bell customers, which I’m sure NBA fans would rather have than the new lame options listed.

• Fox Sports in the US have acquired the rights to the German Bundesliga and DFL-Cup competitions beginning in the 2015-16 season. GolTV in the US and Canada are both the current rights holders, so this change down south could also see a change of rights holders in Canada (hopefully going to Sportsnet and not beIN Sport), and will turn GolTV Canada into an even sadder and more pathetic channel than it currently is.

• In a sign of how bad the Canadian men’s soccer team currently is, their international friendly against Australia (in England) at 3pm ET today (Tuesday) will be streamed live on sportsnet.ca and replayed on Sportsnet 360 at Midnight ET. France/Finland, Spain/Georgia, and England/Poland are showing on the Sportsnet family of channels, and I don’t doubt that all three could garner better ratings than the CMNT match.

• For those missing watching former Sportscentre anchor Jay Onrait on their screens every night (though it appears Fox Sports Live is doing a pretty good job of posting highlights of Jay and Dan most nights), Onrait has a new book coming out next month which should tide you over. Anchorboy: True Tales From The World of Sportscasting is currently available for pre-order from HarperCollins Canada and will no doubt be a hilarious read… presuming you’re a fan of that type of humour.

• And finally, Sportsnet continues to piss off two fan bases. Firstly, college football fans by showing duplicate programming on Sportsnet One and SN 360 on Thursday nights instead of the NCAA game of the night, as well as removing Saturday night games from their schedule at the last minute. SN spouted about their extensive NCAA coverage after picking up ESPN’s College Game Day, but have failed miserably so far. TSN on the other hand, after getting off to a slow start, showed more games this past weekend than SN has all season.

SN also is making viewers’ eyes and ears bleed for another MLB post-season as they subject us to the awful MLB International feed for the NLCS series instead of TBS as we endure the ramblings of the always-terrible Rick Sutcliffe. Combined with the graphics and production values of an early 90s high school broadcast, it’s almost enough to make you want to find an illegal stream online. SN even knows how bad it is as they use the TBS feed when showing highlights during the game.