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.

SPORTSNET HOCKEY CENTRAL

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

TSN TRADECENTRE

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

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“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 TSN.ca 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.

Sportsnet, TSN With Lockout Specials

Just when you thought there wasn’t any hockey to show (jokes about TSN showing 25 year-old games can go here), TSN and Sportsnet have both come up with a special about the lack of hockey. The 30 minute “NHL on TSN: Showdown 2012” special airs Thursday at 7:00pm ET. Then Sportsnet responds on Friday with a one hour “Hockey Central: Countdown to Shutdown” special. Total number of on-air personalities on TSN: seven. Total on Sportsnet: 17, including two ex-baseball player (Buck Martinez and Gregg Zaun). This could be a fake ad on Rick Mercer Report or 22 Minutes, but it isn’t. Continue after the break for both press releases.

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News from Canadian Upfronts: Citytv Gets 24/7; Is HNIC Next?

The big news from the Canadian upfronts (among many pleasant surprises, to be honest) is that Rogers has acquired Canadian rights to HBO’s 24/7 Winter Classic series for this season. With the Toronto Maple Leafs playing in the Winter Classic, the series will certainly rate will with both Canadian consumers and advertisers. I don’t doubt that TSN and HBO Canada would also love to have it. The four-part series will air on both Sportsnet and Citytv.

In the past 24/7 Winter Classic has aired on HBO Canada, without ads and unedited. While it is great news that the series is now available to more Canadians, I hope that Rogers can (or will) show it uncut. RDS hasn’t edited out profanity when they’ve shown the series in past seasons.

What is even more interesting are the rumours swirling about Citytv expansion into Atlantic Canada. Recently City added SCN (an educational broadcaster from Saskatchewan) and Metro 14 (an ethnic channel from Montreal) to their list of affiliates. This gives Citytv over-the-air coverage from Montreal to Vancouver. All that’s missing are the Atlantic provinces. The biggest problem for Rogers is there are no existing stations for sale in the Maritimes. CBC, CTV and Global all want to hold on to the stations they currently own. There are no independent stations to buy (save for NTV in Newfoundland, which is useless in the other three provinces).

It seems the only option for Rogers is to launch a new station, pending CRTC approval. Bell and Shaw, which own the existing local stations, would certainly contest considering they already struggle for profit in the small Martime market.Rogers likely could gain approval with promises to show local programming though. This is something they fail to do in other Canadian markets.

There are two reasons why an affiliate in the Maritimes is vital for Rogers. The first is sumsubs, where CTV and Global have an advertising advantage. Rogers gets no advertising money from Atlantic Canada as locals watch programs like Person of Interest and How I Met Your Mothers on CBS, due to the lack of a Citytv affiliate.

The second, and more important, reason is so the CBC becomes redundant in the next round of NHL TV rights bidding. It is now clear to me that Rogers might want to bid on rights by themselves. Otherwise I don’t see why they bought these two stations in Saskatchewan and Montreal. Sure having national coverage is nice. But, using that national coverage to carry the most coveted prize in the most coveted sector of broadcasting in the internet/PVR era is even more important. This could result in another Bell/Rogers bidding war. The question is will either partner with CBC to keep down costs, and get a leg up, on their competitor?

The Sportsnet/TSN PR Wars: Who Has the Most Hockey?

This almost doesn’t deserve the two minutes it will take me to post it, but here is the latest in TSN and Sportsnet’s silly “war” about which channel is better. In case you missed it, TSN sent out this press release last week.

Hockey lives here. This weekend, TSN wrapped up its most robust hockey production slate ever. Overall this hockey season, Canada’s Sports Leader has produced and broadcast 272 hockey games, or more than 700 hours of live game coverage. TSN’s slate of live hockey coverage includes NHL ON TSN regular season and playoff games, the IIHF WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP, IIHF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, and a series of Hockey Canada domestic and international events.

An overview of TSN’s hockey productions from the 2011-12 hockey season is below:

• 85 games – NHL Regular Season Regional Games (Jets, Canadiens)
• 74 games – NHL Regular Season National games
• 30 games – NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs (3 Rounds)
• 27 games – Hockey Canada domestic and international events
• 26 games – IIHF World Junior Championship
• 21 games – IIHF World Championship
• 9 games – NHL Pre-Season

Today Sportsnet tagged this on to the end of their Memorial Cup press release.

Sportsnet is Canada’s unparalleled home to all things hockey, producing and broadcasting more than 300 games – more than any other Canadian broadcaster – for the 2011-12 season including the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup, CHL Playoffs, Friday Night Hockey, NHL, AHL and CIS:

  • NHL Preseason – 7
  • Vancouver Canucks Regular Season – 57
  • Edmonton Oilers Regular Season – 58
  • Calgary Flames Regular Season – 59
  • Ottawa Senators Regular Season – 52
  • Toronto Maple Leafs Regular Season – 29
  • CHL Canada-Russia Series – 6
  • CHL Regular Season – 15
  • CHL Top Prospects – 1
  • CHL Playoffs – 8
  • MasterCard Memorial Cup – 9
  • Young Stars Tournament – 2
  • AHL Outdoor Game – 1
  • AHL All-Star – 1
  • Canadian Interuniversity Sports Men’s Championship – 2

We get it, TSN and Sportsnet both show a lot of hockey.

Sportsnet Gains; TSN Still Wins Deadline Ratings Battle

TSN's trade-breakers

Bob McKenzie summed up the 2012 NHL trade deadline day as well as anyone. “Busy day. Maybe not for fans expecting trade action but chasing ghosts all day is hard work. Ha ha.” he commented on Twitter after Monday’s deadline passed. There were 15 trades involving 32 players and 11 draft picks yesterday. Only one 1st round picked was moved, as Nashville dealt theirs for Paul Gaustad and a 4th round pick. The biggest stars to move were former Canadian World Junior players Cody Hodgson and Zack Kassian, who switched teams. Yes, this year’s deadline, like others recently, lacked the big names moving that originally resulted in 10 hours of coverage from TSN and Sportsnet.

Many moments ranged from dull to awkward in the 20 hours of coverage between TSN and Sportsnet. Nominees for the worst moments include James Duthie’s use of a laugh track, which only made awkward jokes from other panel members more unbearable. Or maybe Alyonka Larionov reading Tweets on air, something that isn’t (and probably never will be) a good idea. Another that ranked near the top was Hazel Mae wearing sunglasses in the Sportsnet newsroom. There were others I missed, I’m sure.

By my count Sportsnet broke the most trades. Nick Kyproes was on the ball, breaking many trades while TSN was at commercial break or reading Tweets. Kyper, who has been brushed off as not a real insider in the past, led the way breaking three trades. Bob McKenzie broke two trades. Mark Spector, Pierre Lebrun, Darren Dreger, Bruce Garroich, Scott Morrison, Gord Miller and Renaud Lavoie all broke one each. By my count, that’s a total of six for Sportsnet, five for TSN and one for RDS.

Sportsnet's Stragety Room

Sportsnet also had the one panel that I thought was worth watching, their “strategy room”, which featured former general managers Pat Quinn, Neil Smith, Doug MacLean and Brian Lawton. The four of them, and host Jeff Marek, were the best at breaking down trades. They also had the best filler, as Smith and Quinn remembered making trades that helped put their respective teams (the Rangers and Canucks) into the 1994 Stanley Cup Final. It was great TV, and unlike the reading of Tweets on air, a welcome innovation on trade deadline day.

Neither of the main panels were particularly inspiring. Marty McSorely and Billy Jaffe were okay, as well Mike Johnson and Aaron Ward. Neither panel offered groundbreaking analysis, but then again there wasn’t a lot to analyze.

Johnson offered up one of the few good soundbites before noon when he said the Predators would be big buyers just seven minutes into TSN’s broadcast. Nashville then went on to make two of the biggest trades of the day.

The ratings reflected Sportsnet’s improved broadcast. TSN still won the day with an average of 259, 000 viewers tuning in (using BBM overnight numbers). That number is down from last year’s overnight number of 268, 000. Sportsnet made big gains though, with an approximate average of 98, 000. That number is up from an overnight average of 72, 000 last year.

Evidently Sportsnet’s improved coverage worked, kind of. Offseason additions Morrison, Marek and Chris Simpson were key to Sportsnet’s broadcast. Sportsnet’s best bet to improve their ratings again is to keep most of their features, while maybe changing a couple of analysts.

TSN, however, will have to make a few changes to keep pace with Sportsnet, as far as content goes at least. After Sportsnet introduced a western panel in past seasons, TSN followed suit this year. Now they will have to add a GM panel. Use Steve Kouleas and Craig Button, then add in a couple of others, and TSN would have a panel that could at least compete with Sportsnet’s.

With overall ratings up, coverage almost certainly won’t be reduced next season.

People watch curling…  This year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts once again proved that the common myth that nobody watches curling is wrong. An average of 1 million watched the final between BC’s Kelly Scott and Alberta’s Heather Nedohin. 633, 000 watched a meaningless 3rd place game between Manitoba and Quebec. That number is slightly down from 1.08 million for last year’s final.

Oilers fans miss out… Due to TSN’s Wednesday night NHL exclusive window, Edmonton Oilers fans will miss out on the first 20 minutes of the Blues-Oilers game on Wednesday. Many are blaming Sportsnet, who certainly are not at fault as their hands are tied. You could blame TSN for not picking the game up, but why would they want to show a game where they’d have to air the first period on TSN2? They only get 10 Oilers games a year. The Oilers scheduled the game as late as they felt comfortable, 8pm local. The Toronto-Chicago game, which is on TSN, starts at 7pm Central/8pm Eastern. The NHL should have forced that game to begin at 6:30pm CT, which would allow Sportsnet to show the entire Oilers game.

MLSE Sale Has Few Immediate Effects on Broadcasting

Before Bell Canada CEO George Cope and Rogers Communications CEO Nadir Mohamed, the new owners of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, even stepped to the podium on Friday morning the outcry that the two could squeeze CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada out of business was the buzz of social media. “Starting next year CBC can’t show any Leafs games” some would say; others would respond with “But they can still show the other six Canadian teams”. In reality, neither of these are true. The National Hockey League sells television rights for 31 Maple Leafs games; in the current contract (which doesn’t run out until 2014) CBC broadcasts 24 and TSN broadcasts 7. So, for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, at the very least, the CBC will continue showing the Leafs on most Saturday nights to the most of the country. Hockey Night in Canada isn’t going anywhere, at least not for a few seasons.

Come the 2014-15 season the NHL will those 31 games again. This is where Bell Media and Rogers Broadcasting – its important to note the different in name from their parent companies – could squeeze the CBC out of NHL coverage. However, many experts and fans have assumed this since CTV launched an aggressive bid against CBC in the last round of bidding. I don’t think that the Bell and Rogers partnership on the buying shares in the Maple Leafs will affect their decisions on how they approach national NHL rights when bidding begins sometime in late 2012 or 2013. It is still possible that TSN will bid alone, using CTV as an over-the-air network (the NHL would probably require one). Sportsnet, who probably can’t bid alone because Citytv doesn’t reach the entire country over-the-air, could choose to partner with the CBC, essentially taking over what TSN has now. Of course CBC and TSN could bid together (unlikely) or TSN and Sportsnet could bid together. We really don’t know yet.

Keith Pelley and Phil King, the heads of sports broadcasting at Rogers and Bell respectively, have both said that current contracts will continue until they run out for the Maple Leafs and Raptors. Sportsnet and TSN share games for both teams. Rogers sub-licensed ten Leafs games per season to TSN in 2007. They kept 29 games for Sportsnet Ontario. Leafs TV shows 12 games a season. This deal runs out in after the 2014-15 season. It is hard to tell how Bell and Rogers will divide these games beginning in 2014. It might depend on who has national broadcast rights. Assuming TSN and CBC remain the NHL’s national broadcasting partners (yes I know, a big assumption), I could see TSN showing ten games nationally and 15 on “TSN Leafs” regionally, with Sportsnet showing the other 26.

The current Raptors television deal, which is also split between TSN and Sportsnet, doesn’t run out for a few more seasons either. Last season, TSN showed 47 Raptors games while Sportsnet showed 35 Raptors games. I do think Sportsnet and TSN will split Raptors games 41/41 after the current deal runs out.

The bigger basketball related question is where will the NBA Finals air once the current TSN contract is up? As I understand it, the Raptors acquire rights for all NBA games in Canada, which they then sell themselves. So unless TSN and Sportsnet split the NBA Finals too (which won’t make TSN happy), MLSE will have to continue auctioning these off. The new MLSE ownership may also force theScore out of NBA broadcasting after their current contract.

The affects this deal will have on Toronto FC are unclear at this time. GolTV shows all regional games (those not broadcast on TSN). I’m sure Sportsnet would love to pick this package up, but I’m not sure if they can.

Pelley and King have also stated that Leafs TV, NBA TV Canada and GolTV Canada will likely remain in operation until 2015. At that time they will make a decision on what to do with them. NBA TV Canada is a valuable asset because it shows a number of live Raptors games. GolTV Canada is in the same situation, although it may depend on whether GolTV US is still around in 2015.

As you can see, the affects of this deal are more long-term than short-term. The next round of NHL TV bidding was bound to be a bit of a mess anyway. I think this deal just made some realize the might of Bell and Rogers.

Confirmed: Hazel Mae Returns to Sportsnet

Rogers has finally confirmed the news that I reported 6 weeks ago, Hazel Mae is returning to Canada to work for Sportsnet. Mae will host the 6pm ET edition of Connected beginning on Monday November 14. Mae will also contribute to theFan590, Sportsnet Magazine and Sportsnet.ca. Mae began her broadcasting career in 2001 at Sportsnet as a Sportsnetnews anchor. Mae lived and worked in Boston from 2004 until 2008 with NESN. From 2009 until 2011 she was an anchor at MLB Network, living in the New York City area.

Here is a quote from Mae on returning to Canada:

I have truly come full circle by returning to the network that launched my broadcasting career. My career got off to a great start at Sportsnet and I’m excited to be coming back home. It’s an exciting time at Sportsnet with the recent re-brand and their accessible content on multiple platforms.

And a quote from Scott Woodgate, Vice-President of News and Information Programming, Sportsnet:

Hazel is a tremendous addition to our news team. She’s a talented storyteller and outstanding live broadcaster whose sports knowledge will drive our content on Connected.

I know there are many in Canada who don’t like Mae, but it is great for the Canadian television business when someone who has made it in the United States returns to Canada to work. From what I’ve seen of her on NESN and MLB Network, she has improved in the past seven years as well. This is a nice addition by Sportsnet, who also recently added Ken Reid to their Connected anchor team. I still feel that Connected lags behind TSN’s SportsCentre, but it is improving every year.

Two New TSN Radio Stations Launch Today

On Monday Bell Media announced that two of its sports radio stations, Sports Radio 1290 in Winnipeg and TEAM 990 in Montreal, would rebrand as TSN Radio today. Here are the press releases about the rebranding of the two stations.

Hello Winnipeg! Beginning today, the city’s only all-sports station becomes TSN Radio 1290. The station’s local morning and afternoon drive shows will continue bringing fans all the news coming out of Manitoba’s sports scene. TSN’s all-star roster of sports broadcasters will regularly appear on TSN Radio 1290, giving Winnipeggers comprehensive coverage and analysis of all their teams.

Fans in the greater Winnipeg area can access the station at 1290 on the AM dial. TSN Radio 1290 is also available nationally online at the new website TSN1290.ca and on TSN Mobile.

“Sports fans in Winnipeg now have the best of both worlds”, said Mark Maheu, General Manager, TSN Radio 1290. “From Jay and Westwood in the morning, to Hustler and Lawless in the afternoon and all the Jets games covered by Dennis Beyak, Brian Munz and Shane Hnidy, fans will continue to get all of the city’s biggest sports stories from a local angle – with the added bonus of having insight from TSN’s experts and Insiders. This is a win-win for fans.”

Home of the Jets
As the exclusive home of the Jets, TSN Radio 1290 is the hub for Jets news. The station’s play-by-play team of Dennis Beyak and Brian Munz, as well as Stanley Cup champion and colour commentator Shane Hnidy, voice Jets games all season long. In addition, TSN Radio 1290 brings fans more than five hours of pre- and post-game coverage, breaking down all aspects of the team.

TSN Radio 1290 kicks off its live coverage of the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. CT against the Montreal Canadiens.

For CFL fans, the station also has extensive coverage of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Along with pre-game coverage of the team, former Blue Bombers star Troy Westwood brings fans an insider point of view every weekday morning as co-host of THE BIG SHOW with Jay Richardson.

TSN Radio 1290 is also the official home of the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team, with long-time voice of the Goldeyes Paul Edmonds calling the play-by-play, as the station broadcasts more than 100 games every season including exclusive pre-game and post-game coverage.

Local Programming
TSN Radio 1290’s weekday programming line-up is anchored by Winnipeg’s most popular and influential sports radio show HUSTLER AND LAWLESS (4 to 6 p.m. CT) with Winnipeg Free Press columnist Gary Lawless and Andrew (Hustler) Paterson. In the morning, sports fans can wake up with THE BIG SHOW (5:30 to 9 a.m. CT) with Jets PA announcer Jay Richardson and former long-time Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Troy Westwood.

On Saturdays hosts Drew Mindell, Richard Pollock and Ezra Ginsburg bring fans up to speed on the Jets and all the biggest stories in the NHL during the ILLEGAL CURVE HOCKEY SHOW (12 noon to 3 p.m. CT).

TSN Radio 990 landed in Montreal today just in time for the NHL season. Canada’s Sports Leader makes its mark on the Montreal radio scene with TSN Radio 990’s exclusive English-language radio broadcast coverage of all Montreal Canadiens games and a full day of local sports programming highlighted by Melnick in the Afternoon with Mitch Melnick and The Morning Show with Denis Casavant, Elliott Price and Shaun Starr.

TSN Radio 990 kicks off its live coverage of the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night (October 6) at 7 p.m. ET against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

TSN Radio 990 can be accessed by listeners in the greater Montreal area at 990 on the AM dial. The station is also available nationally on the new website http://www.TSN990.ca and on TSN Mobile.

“This is a big win for Montreal sports fans,” said Wayne Bews, General Manager, TSN Radio 990. “TSN is the industry-leader and home to the best and most talented experts in sports broadcasting. With the NHL season starting tomorrow, combining our strong local coverage with the strength of the TSN brand behind us will take our coverage to a whole new level.”

TSN Radio 990 will cover all of the news surrounding the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Impact throughout the day. TSN Radio 990’s Montreal Candiens coverage features extensive pre- and post-game shows led by play-by-play announcer John Bartlett along with game analysts and former NHLers Sergio Momesso and Bobby Dollas.

In addition to Melnick and the morning team, TSN Radio 990’s all-star line-up of local broadcasters include CTV Montreal’s Randy Tieman, Tony Marinaro, Nick Murdocco, Gary Whittaker, Simon Tsalikis, Chris Nilan, Noel Butler, Sean Campbell, Mitch Gallo and Conor McKenna.

TSN Radio 990 will also now utilize TSN’s roster of sports experts and Insiders including James Duthie, Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun, Ray Ferraro, Marc Crawford, Dave Randorf, Brian Williams, Chris Schultz, Matt Dunigan, Jock Climie, Dave Naylor and Michael Landsberg.

TSN Radio 990’s weekday broadcast schedule is listed below (all times ET):
Monday to Friday
THE MORNING SHOW – 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
THE MONTREAL FORUM WITH TONY MARINARO – 10 a.m. to 12 noon
THE INTERMISSION WITH RANDY TIEMAN & TONY MARINARO – 12 noon to 1 p.m.
THE TIEMAN SHOW WITH RANDY TIEMAN – 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
MELNICK IN THE AFTERNOON – 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
A full schedule of programming including special evening and weekend programming is available at TSN990.ca.