Trade Deadline Day 2015 on Sportsnet and TSN

Trade Deadline Day 2015 will the the first since Sportsnet took over all national NHL rights. Whether this makes a difference for viewers or not remains to be seen later in the week when the ratings come out. Last year’s TSN broadcast on deadline day had four times as many viewers  as Sportsnet, TSN averaged 243,000 vs. 63,000 on Sportsnet — all poor souls who apparently haven’t harnessed the ability of getting push alerts on their phones instead of watching television for ten hours.


Begins at 8am ET for ten hours on all four Sportsnet regional channels, and Sportsnet Now.

  • Main Desk – Host Daren Millard is joined by Mike Johnson, Nick Kypreos and Kelly Hrudey to navigate a day’s worth of news
  • Breaking News Desk – Christine Simpson is joined by Elliotte Friedman, Chris Johnston and John Shannon to deliver the latest trades and rumours
  • Reaction Panel – Jeff Marek referees the expert panel of Glenn Healy, Doug MacLean, Darren Pang and Craig Simpson as they debate and discuss the big moves
  • Analytics – Damien Cox dissects the trades of the day, using analytics to explain why a player was traded and what the teams were looking for
  • In the Hot Seat – George Stroumboulopoulos provides insightful interviews and discussions throughout the day
  • Digital Zone – Sophia Jurksztowicz keeps a pulse on the fan reaction on social media
  • Around the League – Sportsnet’s comprehensive network of reporters check in from across the league to share reactions in real-time


Begins at 8am ET for ten hours on the four regional TSN feeds TSN1/3/4/5, and TSN GO.

  • Host: James Duthie
  • Trade Breaker Desk: Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun, and Gord Miller
  • Instant Analysis Panel: Aaron Ward, Ray Ferraro, Jeff O’Neill, Pierre McGuire
  • Deadline Panel: Darren Dutchyshen, Martin Biron, and Ron Wilson
  • Trade Bait: Craig Button
  • Post2Post: Jamie McLennan
  • TSN The Reporters Panel: Dave Hodge with Michael Farber, Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons, and Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur
  • Satellite Contributors: Gary Lawless, Francois Gagnon, and Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch
  • Social Contributor: Cabral “Cabbie” Richards
  • SPORTSCENTRE Updates: Jennifer Hedger
  • SPORTSCENTRE Bureau Reporters: Cory Woron, Mark Masters, Jermain Franklin, Sara Orlesky, Farhan Lalji, Brent Wallace, John Lu, Ryan Rishaug, Sheri Forde, and Matthew Scianitti

Free agent Dustin Penner was scheduled to be apart of TSN’s coverage as a “social contributor” alongside Cabral Richards, however Penner has been cut after making a couple of rape “jokes” on Twitter last night (Saturday). Unfortunately, Cabbie will still be on screen.

Senators Regional Games are Headed to TSN

The Ottawa Senators and Bell Media announced a new agreement this morning that will see regional television and local radio coverage of the team air on Bell-owned stations for the next 12 seasons. This is the same duration as Sportsnet’s new national broadcast agreement with the NHL. The deal includes at least 52 games on TSN and at least 40 games on RDS within the Senators regional territory, which includes eastern Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. TSN Radio 1200 retains exclusive radio rights to all games. Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

This agreement brings up several questions to Senators fans in the east. Will Bell charge extra for a TSN-Sens channel, as they do for local Winnipeg Jets games. The local Jets channel costs $10 a month (that comes out to about $1 per game). Or will Bell package the games along with TSN, as they do with regional Canadiens broadcasts, making them more accessible. Or will Bell combine the Canadiens and Senators packages, they share the same regional territory, into one regional NHL hockey package? The Jets games cost money because Bell had a pay a lot more for those rights than they did for the Canadiens rights.

Bell likely paid a significant amount for this Senators contract, considering the NHL/Rogers agreement sparked a bidding war between Bell and Rogers. So, I’d guess they will have to monetize these games in some fashion. How much money can they get considering the Senators quickly lose popularity once you cross the Ottawa River? This isn’t like Manitoba where an entire province loves the local team. The Senators have to compete with the Habs in Quebec, the Leafs in Ontario and both in the Maritimes. Indeed, even in Ottawa many fans still have ties to Montreal or Toronto.

The other looming question is what will come of longtime Senators voice Dean Brown? He has called almost every regional Senators game since Sportsnet launched in 1998. There are two possibilities for Brown. He is a Sportsnet employee and he does freelance work for the CBC. In my opinion he is a the best play-by-play announcer Sportsnet has in their ranks and deserves a spot on their new national broadcasts. Him and former partner Garry Galley would make an excellent eastern-based pairing for Rogers. While it is possible TSN could hire him to call Senators games regionally again, I think it is unlikely. Dennis Beyak will likely continue to call Jets regional games. That leaves Chris Cuthbert and Gord Miller to do the Leafs and Senators.

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.

TSN, Sportsnet Both Offer 5-part Series on Gretzky Trade

25 years ago the Edmonton Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings in a shocking trade. The only thing possibly more shocking is TSN and Sportsnet’s dueling coverage of the trade 25 years later. Next week TSN’s SportsCentre and Sportsnet’s Connected will air special features every day of the week to give fans a glimpse of how crazy coverage would have been if the two competed a quarter century ago.  TSN’s coverage is called “The Trade at 25”, while Sportsnet has simply opted for “The Trade.” Here are the details.

On Monday TSN’s Michael Farber looks at how Gretzky’s move to Los Angeles has spawned a new type of ice hockey player, former roller hockey players from California while Sportsnet recaps “why [the trade] mattered.” On Tuesday TSN’s Dave Naylor looks at how Gretzky’s restructured contract in LA sent players’ salaries skyward, while Sportsnet interviews owners Bruce McNall and Peter Pocklington, as well as Jimmy Carson, who the Oilers got in return for Gretzky. Sportsnet also has 25 ways the trade changed hockey forever (how ambiguous), Mark Spector looks at how it changed the Oilers. TSN’s Naylor interviews Carson a day later than Sportsnet on Wednesday. Sportsnet’s Wednesday lineup features the trade that didn’t happen between the Oilers and Canucks, while Michael Grange looks at whether August 9, 1988 was “the most devastating day for Canadian sports fans.”

By Thursday the networks will mostly run out of exciting features, so TSN has DJ Steve Porter (of HNIC fame) do a mash-up of old news clips and Sportsnet interviews celebrities (Donovan Bailey, Jim Cuddy, Jerry Bruckheimer, Peter Mansbridge, Steve Nash, Alan Thicke, and Mark Messier). Sportsnet will also show the front pages of the Edmonton Journal and Los Angeles Times from the day of the trade (what thrilling TV!).

On Friday Sportsnet has Scott Morrison offer his reflections, followed by a panel of talking heads while TSN’s Ryan Rishaug hits the streets of Edmonton to talk to fans.

I guess when its a boring offseason Canadian sports networks can just find a previous, more exciting, hockey offseason to talk about.

As An NHL Deal Gets Close, TSN’s Coverage Steps Up

Apparently 5am on a Saturday night 112 days into the NHL lockout is a better time to meet than regular daytime hours of any of the past five months. Or the months before that. TSN and Sportsnet have both covered the NHL lockout day after day since the first cancelled game in October. And let’s be honest, most of those 112 were meaningless in the grand scheme of things. The big moves have come within the past 24 hours. Pierre Leburn reported that the NHL moved up to a $62.5 million cap last night. Apparently the players got what they wanted as the final cap number $64.3 million (the players wanted $65 million, the owners wanted $60 million).

With most of the big issues agreed upon Saturday night and Sunday morning, it was the coverage these past 24 hours that mattered most. And TSN had a decisive edge over Sportsnet. Both networks had live coverage from New York City throughout the day. However as breaking news emerged during the overnight hours, TSN was the only network with live coverage. SportsCentre went live throughout the night and was still live when a deal was agreed on at 5:00am ET. Meanwhile the same taped edition of Connected, with the same taped segments of HockeyCentral’s lockout analysis, aired on Sportsnet. As a result, TSN was the first to go live to New York after a deal had been reached.

More on this later…

TSN/Sportsnet to Split Leafs, TFC and Raptors 50/50

TSN released its annual end of year/”look at how well we did, again” press release on Friday. It was chock full of the usual things. 85% of Canadians watch sports each month (okay, that’s actually interesting), TSN is the most watched specialty channel, TSN’s audience is 62% larger than Sportsnet’s, TSN2 is the third most watched sports channel, football and Olympic ratings were great, lots of people watched the NHL last time they played and tennis had surprisingly good ratings. TSN also signed new broadcast deals with the Australian Open and Barclays Premier League.

However, there was one section of the press release that stood out. TSN will benefit more from the MLSE purchase than Sportsnet. The press release didn’t come out and say it, but based on the information within it is fairly clear. TSN will have 50% of all regional Maple Leafs (if they ever play again) and Toronto FC regional matches. TSN also gets 50% of all Raptors broadcasts. On the face of it everything looks equal, so why does TSN benefit more?

The Maple Leafs sell 52 of their games for regional broadcast. Under the new agreement Leafs TV is out of the live game business completely. Under the current deal Sportsnet shows 29 of those, Leafs TV shows 13 and TSN shows 10 (for which they have a special deal that removes regional restrictions). Under the new deal TSN and Sportsnet will each show 26. Leafs TV is completely out of the live game business. TSN also broadcasts 7 Leafs games as part of its national broadcast deal. CBC has 23. That means TSN will now have more Leafs regular season games than any other broadcaster. Sportsnet loses three games per season.

TSN and Sportsnet will also split Raptors games, with each broadcaster getting 41 during the regular season. This is technically a win for Sportsnet, as they go up from 35 games. TSN loses six in return. But it isn’t all bad for TSN considering the Raptors are struggling to break 100, 000 viewers many games this season. The Leafs usually pull in close to (or over) a million on TSN. I don’t think they are too concerned with turning in six Raptors games for sixteen Leafs games. It is still unknown where other NBA coverage that MLSE sells in Canada, such as the All Star Game and Finals, will air under the new ownership.

TSN broadcasts 18 Toronto FC matches as part of their MLS broadcast deal. TSN and Sportsnet will divide the other sixteen, with each taking 8. That gives TSN more than three-quarters of all TFC matches. Technically both networks gain TFC matches though. Sportsnet had six matches this past season while TSN only had two regional games through a sub-license with GolTV. If losing La Liga was the first sign of the demise of GolTV Canada, losing close to twenty hours of live original Canadian programming c0uld put an end to Canada’s only non-premium all-soccer channel. It’s hard to see the channel surviving on Bundesliga and all-American MLS matches. And, as I said, Sportsnet adds two matches while TSN adds six. Another win for TSN.

TSN and Sportsnet Win 2013-16 Premiership Rights in Canada

The new broadcast contracts with Bell and Rogers will ensure that Canadians will be able to see Canadian stars, such as Norwich’s Simeon Jackson, in the Premier League through 2016.

The Barclays Premier League announced a new rights deal for Canada this afternoon. TSN and Sportsnet, the current broadcasters of England’s top domestic football league, will continue to broadcast all games to Canadians. The biggest difference in the new contract is TSN and Sportsnet will each get 50% of the matches. Over the past three years Sportsnet has broadcast most matches, with TSN sub-licensing around 50 per season.

In the new deals the Premiership has sold two seperate 190 match packages. Rogers bought one, which will see 190 games air on Sportsnet, Sportsnet World, Sportsnet ONE and Sportsnet World Plus. TSN bought the other package, with matches set to air on TSN, TSN2, RDS and RDS2. It is unclear at this time just how TSN and Sportsnet will divide the 380 matches. However, both Rogers and Bell will get equal selections based on timeslots and/or matchups.

The Canadian announcement comes a day after NBCUniversal revealed that they have picked up American broadcast rights beginning next fall. The new US deal sees an end to ESPN’s Premiership broadcasts, which have set the gold standard for soccer broadcasting in North America. NBC will broadcast all 380 league matches per season, marking the first time every game is shown live in America.

Steaming will play an important role in the new broadcast contracts. NBC will use online streaming service to offer around four Saturday 10am eastern kickoffs per week. TSN also has stated that is part of the plan to deliver games to Canadians. Sportsnet World’s streaming service and mobile TV platforms for both Bell and Rogers will also play a role. This really is the first time that online rights have been considered an essential, valuable part of a Premiership broadcast contract. In the past they were just an afterthought.

Here is a quote from Navaid Mansuri, Vice-President of Finance & Sports Programming, Sportsnet.

Sportsnet is proud to continue our strong partnership with the Premiere League, furthering our commitment to providing Canadians with unparalleled access to world class soccer content. The BPL is one of the world’s most prominent soccer leagues and this new agreement has positioned Sportsnet to continue our already unprecedented schedule of soccer programming across multiple platforms in the years to come.

And Shawn Redmond, Vice-President of Programming, TSN.

The Premier League is home to the world’s most popular teams and biggest stars in soccer. With a dedicated and growing fan base in Canada we are looking forward to giving fans even more Premier League coverage with more games on TSN than ever before. The BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE package is a perfect complement to our slate of world-class soccer programming.

It is also unclear if beIN Sport, which doesn’t yet have distribution in the Canadian market, launched a serious bid for the Canadian rights. beIN Sport, owned by Qatar Media, was expected to challenge the status quo in the British and American markets as well. As it turns out, their bids fizzled towards the end in both of those markets. New broadcasters did take over Premiership broadcasting, but it was British Telecom and NBC, not beIN Sport.

This deal is probably about as good as this was going to turn out for Canadians. Between TSN, TSN2, Sportsnet, Sportsnet ONE and Sportsnet World, it is possible to broadcast up to five games live at one time. The Premier League will use the following timeslots for matches over the next three seasons (all times Eastern and number of matches is approximate)

Saturday 7:45am – 28-30 matches
Saturday 10:00am – ~190 matches
Saturday 12:30pm – 28-30 matches
Sunday 8:30am – 32 matches
Sunday 11:00am – 33 matches
Monday 3:00pm – 18-20 matches

Usually a Premier League season consists 33 weekend rounds and 7 holiday/midweek rounds. The 33 weekend rounds will see around 140 matches played in unique timeslots. The other 190 matches played on the weekend will be on Saturday at 10:00am or Sunday at 10:00am (when a team plays in the Europa League the Thursday before).

Weekday rounds will account for the other 7 rounds, with a total of 70 matches. 12 of these matches are slated for television in the UK. Usually (when it’s not a holiday), the matches are split between Tuesday and Wednesday with consistant start times.