The Score Will Relaunch July 1 as Sportsnet 360

Sportsnet 360 logo courtesy of @sladurantaye

Sportsnet 360 logo courtesy of @sladurantaye

After waiting months for CRTC approval, and after months of speculation about what plans Rogers had for The Score after purchasing the television side of the company in August last year, Rogers announced yesterday that The Score will be relaunched on July 1 as Sportsnet 360 – a 24-hour news service that will feature breaking news and press conferences along with live sporting events.

With the renaming comes “a new logo, sets, animation package, and enhanced ticker that combines the look and feel of Sportsnet with familiar elements of The Score brand.” Sportsnet 360 will be able to show breaking news and full press conferences so as to not break away from programming being shown on the other family of networks. Sportsnet 360 will also continue to be used for additional programming that won’t fit onto the Sportsnet regionals and Sportsnet One channels, as well as maintaining existing programming that The Score had rights to such as WWE and CIS football.

For those of you playing at home, this brings the total of channels under the Sportsnet banner to seven. While one could argue the four regional channels are for all intents and purposes one channel, it still gives Rogers and Sportsnet a significant edge over Bell and their two TSN channels. That said, even in the past month, both companies have used their over-the-air channels (City and CTV, respectively) to broadcast live events, as both fight to buy up as many sporting rights.

People of the Twitter seem to not be huge fans of the new name…

Sportsnet Two, Sportsnet News, SNational were just a few of the suggestions I saw, but I’m sure the fantastic readers of this site can come up with something better.

The full press release can be found below.

Continue reading

New Details on Rogers Takeover of theScore

The CRTC has released new details of the Rogers takeover of the Rogers takeover of theScore Television Network from Score Media. Rogers has petitioned a few changes to the channel’s license to the CRTC. theScore now has to break for sports highlights every 15 minutes (which soccer fans know is awkward). Rogers proposes to change this restriction to an hour during live sports, especially when there is no natural break in action. Rogers is also asking the CRTC to allow 15% of theScore’s quarterly broadcast schedule (or just over 100 hours a month, on average) to come from the “analysis and interpretation” and “long form documentary” categories. This is an increase of 5% from theScore’s current license. This would allow theScore to broadcast more talk shows (such as Live @ theScore) than it can now.

Rogers is also promising to create a “Sportsnet Winter Games”, which will apparently be similar to the Winter X Games. My opinion, if they put this in the right venue, it could become massive. Canada is a force in freestyle skiing and snowboardcross. If they can get more high-profile athletes than FIS World Cup and the Canadian Open halfpipe events, then it could easily become the top skiing/snowboarding event in Canada. This is just another example of networks creating and managing their own original programming. Both TSN (Skins Game) and Sportsnet (Grand Slam) have already done this with curling.

Rogers Media Release on Shareholder Approval of Score Media Acquistion

The deal for Rogers to buy Score Media has passed another hurdle as all shareholder issues have been worked out. The deal now only needs CRTC approval, which should come early next year. Here is the Rogers press release.

Rogers Media Inc. today announced it has closed the previously announced acquisition of all of the issued and outstanding shares of Score Media Inc. (the Transaction). The Transaction received shareholder and court approvals earlier this week.

The shares of Score Media, which are currently being held in a trust approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), will be released to Rogers Media upon receipt of final approval by the CRTC. A decision is expected in early 2013.
CRTC-appointed trustee Peter Viner will oversee the day-to-day operations of Score Media pending receipt of the CRTC’s final ruling.

Score Media consists of theScore Television Network (licensee of “The Score”), closed captioning service Voice to Visual Inc., and mixed martial arts program The Score Fighting Series. As part of the Transaction, Rogers Media’s parent company, Rogers Communications Inc., acquired an 11.8 per cent equity interest in theScore Inc. (Score Digital).

The Score is Canada’s third largest specialty sports channel with 6.6 million television subscribers, offering niche headline sports news information.

The total consideration paid by Rogers Media was $167 million.

theScore: An End of an Era (1997-2012)

For the past 15 years theScore was the “different” sports network. Unlike TSN and Sportsnet, it was never owned by major corporations like Bell, Rogers, Labatt, ESPN or FOX. It revolutionized the double-line ticker, a feature uniquely Canadian for the most part. theScore spent 15 years focusing on the sports that TSN and Sportsnet didn’t have time for. Showing segments, such as Cabbie on the Street, that would eventually be eaten up by TSN or Rogers. And so it’s only fitting, and sad, that after 15 years theScore itself is about to become a Rogers property.

theScore created many programs and segments that are as well-known as any on Canadian TV. SportsWorld became the destination for soccer news with host James Sharman. It was succeeded by The Footy Show. Considering Sportsnet already has a top soccer department with a new nightly show, the future of The Footy Show is in serious doubt. Ironically, like so many others, former Score employees Brendan Dunlop (host) and Thomas Dobby (producer) are at the head of the new Sportsnet show.

Court  Surfing and its signature segment Court Cuts were appointment viewing for Canadian hoops fans. The Court Surfing format has been adopted by the rest of the North American pro leagues. It also provided a base for theScore to show NCAA March Madness in 2008.

theScore has covered its fair share of major events over 15 years. They had the World Series in 2002 and 2003 when the Angels beat the Giants in 7 and the Marlins upset the Yankees in 6. The Expos last home game in 2004. And many other baseball games in between. Sunday 11am Premier League matches aired on the network for a number of seasons. NBA, college football and basketball, and Serie A fans have also found a home with the network over the years.

The Score Tonight was once the signature program of the network. It was nightly viewing for me. And one of the few Canadian sports highlights shows that I can honestly say was better than SportsCentre. Of course it was dropped long before Rogers became involved, but is nonetheless and important part of the history of theScore.

ESPN’s Adnan Virk; CBC’s Elliotte Friedman; TSN’s James Cybulski, Sara Orlesky and Steve Kouleas; and Sportsnet’s Brendan Dunlop, Tim Micallef and Sid Seixeiro all got their start at theScore. All have moved on to have very successful careers elsewhere.

The saddest part of theScore becoming a Rogers property is it is no longer the underdog. In fact there is no longer a privately-owned underdog in Canadian sports broadcasting. There’s just TSN and Sportsnet, who can spend money out of their ass, and the publicly-owned CBC who would love to be able to do the same. I think that’s what many loved about theScore, they didn’t have a lot of money to spend, but they spent it wisely. Now theScore is just going to become another generic “Sportsnet” in Rogers’ multi-platform brand.

Over the past couple years Greg Sansone, James Sharman and Kristian Jack have been among the best on-air personalities at any network for answering questions and conversing with me. I wish all three, as well as anyone else whose job is in jeopardy due to the takeover, the best. I’m sure they’ll land on their feet somewhere else in Canadian broadcasting because they are three of the best. Sansone’s role behind the scenes at theScore in recent years cannot be overlooked.

Rogers Communications purchases The Score Television Network

As reported for most of yesterday, and confirmed early this morning, The Score has been bought by Rogers Communications for $167-million. This will give Rogers control of The Score television network, but only a 10% stake in The Score’s digital properties including it’s website and blogs, and it’s extremely popular Score Mobile and ScoreFC mobile apps.

The Score has been up for sale for a while now, and had been looking for around $200-million as a good purchase price. Though, with an increasing debt and dwindling ownership of sports-rights properties, that mark seemed like, and was, a far reach. The sale also includes a $12-million investment from Rogers in Score Digital, which includes having access to their digital and mobile offerings.

The Score has always run a distant third behind Canadian behemoths TSN and Sportsnet. This has been even more prevalent in the past year or two as The Score lost rights to such properties as the English Premier League, Serie A, and Toronto Raptors, and on-screen personnel such as Brendan Dunlop and veterans Tim Micallef and Sid Seixeiro.

Courtesy of Globe & Mail media reporter Steve Ladurantaye,  here are some other brief notes on the deal:

  • The Score will be rebranded as a Sportsnet property, with no word on the format of the new channel, and what will happen in regard to the sports rights that The Score currently holds (eg: WWE, NCAA football). They will also takeover Score HQ on King Street.
  • Rogers will also takeover The Score’s closed captioning service as well as ownership of their MMA franchise, The Score Fighting Series.
  • The Score has around 250 employees. Score Digital will keep 50 staff, with the rest either being used at Rogers or let go.

These days, I rarely find myself watching The Score anymore. When I first moved to Toronto just over three years ago, I found myself liking their programming as a solid alternative to TSN and Sportsnet with shows like Score Tonight, Morency, and The Footy Show. When Tim and Sid jumped ship to greener pastures, and The Footy Show was taken off the air as a weekly show, that was pretty much the point where I had no reason to tune in, other than occasional morning highlights. Now, I pretty much just settle for posts and podcast downloads from The Footy Show and The Basketball Jones guys.

Thomas Dobby Leaves The Score

Another of theScore’s faces has left for another network. Producer Thomas Dobby has left to pursue other opportunities. He is just the latest personalities to leave theScore in recent months. Cabbie Richards and Steve Kouleas left for TSN. Sid Seixeiro and Tim Micallef left for The Fan 590. Now with theScore seemingly losing Serie A rights, one of theScore’s key behind-the-scenes soccer personalities has left too. Dobby was instrumental in theScore’s once mighty Footy Show. All that’s left are hosts James Sharman, Kristian Jack and Brendon Dunlop (an unconfirmed rumour has Dunlop leaving too).

Dobby was key in producing The Footy Show. He also appeared on-air on many of the podcasts. He was also the producer behind the new Live @theScore show. Dunlop was a correspondent for The Footy Show. He was also the occasional co-host when Sharman or Jack were on vacation.

I don’t know where either is going, but if I had to guess, Rogers has hired Dobby. Sportsnet World is launching a new nightly soccer highlights show this fall that will also air on Fox Soccer in America (ala Fox Soccer Report in past years). They will need a producer for that show who has worked on mainstream sports broadcasts. Dobby would fit the position perfectly. I don’t have any inside knowledge on this, just speculation. I can’t think of any other reason he would leave theScore.

I’ll have more on this as it develops. Also, I expect some major news on where La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1 will air this season in the coming days. Likely after the Olympics (because I’m simply too busy with Olympic posts now). It sounds like these leagues will air on Canadian TV in 2012 and last-minute TV deals are in the works to make sure it happens.

theScore Signs New NCAA Deal with Fox Sports

theScore has signed a new US college sports rights agreement with Fox Sports International to show FOX’s (including FSN, FX and FOX itself) broadcasts of college football, college basketball and college hockey beginning this winter. This package is similar to the package of college football and basketball games that Sportsnet showed last year. Here is the press release from theScore.

Score Media Inc. today announces that it has entered into a long-term programming agreement with FOX International Sports Channels that includes at least 250 hours per year of live collegiate content and other FOX Sports and FUEL TV programming. Featuring top college football, basketball and hockey games, the deal includes some of America’s top college conferences including the Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference and Conference USA.

“We are thrilled to have concluded this deal with FOX,” says Benjie Levy, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Score Media Inc. “Score viewers are huge fans of college sports, and as part of this deal, they can now look forward to more coverage than ever before, including games featuring powerhouse schools like Oklahoma State, Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon, USC, Stanford and Memphis.”

Given the Canadian sports fans’ love for quality ice hockey, the deal features live coverage of top-flight programs including the University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, University of Denver and the University of North Dakota. These schools have produced NHL stars including Jonathan Toews, Phil Kessel, Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek, and feature numerous Canadian players on their current rosters.

“FOX Sports Media Group is home to some of the best collegiate sports action in the U.S., and we’re excited to make much of it available to Canadian fans through this agreement with Score Media,” said Sean Riley, Senior Vice President, Distribution, Fox Networks. “Whether its hockey, football or basketball, this package includes great matchups nearly every week of the academic year.”

More information to come…