A Midsummer Night’s Blog Post

So… it’s been awhile. While the long, somewhat boring days of summer sports toll on, there has been some Canadian sports media news to report on over the past couple months since this site last saw an entry.


It’s hard to say whether the first season of NHL on Rogers was a success or not — it depends who you talk to, I guess. It certainly wasn’t for the two main French networks:

Rogers certainly didn’t reach the ratings goals they promised advertisers, thanks mostly to people giving up on cable and people streaming online. While NBC had some of the highest ratings it has seen in years for the postseason, Rogers saw a 12 percent decrease over last year. This, on top of the below-par ratings they had on and off during the regular season. It will be interesting to see how Rogers tinkers with their product during the summer — we already know Sunday’s Hometown Hockey game will be on Sportsnet and not City. Some additional reading if you missed it:

David Shoalts reported on Twitter that the Canadian operation of NHL Network would be shutting down at the beginning of September leaving 20 people unemployed. The network, run by Bell/TSN, was always a piece of trash with little live games or live programming, it wasn’t available in HD, and with the new Rogers TV deal, they lost 40 live games they did show. The US version will continue to operate out of New York.


TSN and Sportsnet got into a pissing contest in early June over who is the number one sports network in Canada. Sportsnet is claiming pole position via combining the viewers between their four regional channels, SN One and SN 360 versus the five of TSN in the top three key demographics for advertisers (2+, men 18–34, adults 25–54). TSN says they are numero uno based on the four regional TSN feeds versus the four Sportsnet regionals. TSN also states it is the number one specialty channel in Canada in those top three demos. Chris Zelkovich at Yahoo Sports has an excellent breakdown of it all and words from both sides. It will be interesting to see the numbers this time next year — will Rogers grow or hemorrhage viewers and can TSN keep their hockey-less numbers up by focusing on their existing major properties (CFL, soccer, tennis, motor sports) and adding some fringe sports (rugby, MMA) to their lineup.


If you’re a soccer fan, you probably have been blowing your load at how many soccer matches of all types from all different tournaments have been on Canadian networks in the past couple months.

TSN has already shown more coverage of international FIFA tournaments in the couple months since they obtained the rights than CBC and Sportsnet did combined during their previous years with the contract. TSN showed nearly every game live or on delay of the FIFA U20 World Cup from New Zealand with only a few matches relegated to TSN GO and over the past couple weeks featured a majority of matches from the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. They also covered the UEFA U21 Championship substantially.

The biggest even though was the FIFA Women’s World Cup being held across Canada. In obvious news, the tournament was a ratings success for CTV, TSN, and RDS. The USA vs. Japan final was watched by 2.1 million Canadian making it the most-watched Women’s WC Final ever. The Canada-England quarterfinal was the most-watched Women’s WC match ever with 3.2 million viewers and the Canadian team averaged 2.3 millions over their five games (Group: 1.6m, 1.9m, 2.1m; R16: 2.8). In other stats, nearly 60% of the country watched part of the tournament and we consumed 69 million hours of coverage collectively. That said, even with the tournament in their own backyard, TSN’s coverage seemed underwhelming compared to Fox’s. While TSN hosted a majority of the coverage from their Toronto studio, Fox had a huge set on Vancouver’s waterfront that was used for pre- and post-game coverage. Fox also managed to provide their own commentators for all games, even including some women in the pairings, while TSN only had their people covering the Canada games and the final and their women on staff were relegated to desk hosting.

Sportsnet has been covering men’s and women’s soccer from the Pan Am Games in Toronto with career freelancer Nigel Reed riding solo for every game for SN and the world feed (Meet the voice of the Pan Am soccer games). The Canadian women’s team will compete for bronze Friday night (8:30pm, SN1), the men’s bronze and women’s gold games go Saturday (1pm and 6:30pm, SN1) and ends with the men’s gold medal game on Sunday at 1pm on SN. Sportsnet also has the conclusion to the CONCACAF Gold Cup this weekend — USA vs. Panama for third place on Saturday (6pm, SN1) and Mexico vs. Jamaica for the championship on Sunday (7:30pm SN).

Sportsnet will announce later today (Friday) that they have secured the rights to the Bundesliga, the top domestic league in Germany, sub-licencing them from Fox Sports who obtained the rights back in 2013 beginning this season and running through 2020. GolTV Canada was the previous rights holder who showed a few games a week on their piss-poor excuse for a channel — it wasn’t available in HD for a majority of providers. As a result, GolTV will be shutting down at the end of August.

CSA confirms that it is looking for new broadcast partner: Sportsnet will no longer be airing matches involving the Canadian national teams after ending their contract early with the Canadian Soccer Association. The contract was due to run until the end of the year and including matches such as World Cup qualifiers and not tournament play. Canada Soccer wasn’t happy that Sportsnet couldn’t find air time in their hockey and baseball-filled schedule as well as higher-rating soccer such as the EPL. It would shock nobody is TSN were to pickup the rights to add to their vastly-growing stable of soccer programming.

News & Notes: Keith Pelley, NHL Draft Lottery, Ratings, Formula 1, NASL, TNA Wrestling

… Rogers Media President Keith Pelley announced he was leaving the telecommunications giant to become commissioner and CEO of the European golf tour. Pelley was the main man behind Rogers securing their 12-year broadcast deal with the NHL. While Pelley has a history of only holding down the same job for a few years at a time, many people wonder whether the underperforming NHL deal has anything to do with his move. Granted, it is only year one of the deal, but Rogers have seen ratings and profits drop from last season, strong audience backlash, as well as revenue from the deal not likely to meet pre-season expectations.

… The NHL Draft Lottery goes tonight, but don’t expect to be able to watch any of the “exciting” action. In the past few years when TSN held the rights, the lottery has been shown in prime-time on a slow playoff night and had a couple hours dedicated to it. No more. Tonight, you’ll get an in-studio interview with top prospects Connor McDavid, Noah Hanifin and Dylan Strome during Hockey Central on CBC at 7:30pm ET and then just before the beginning of the Penguins-Rangers at 8pm ET, the results will be announced live in the Hockey Central studio. That’s it. Video of the live draw will be available online at NHL.com and Sportsnet.ca once the draw has been completed.

… Game one of the Habs-Sens series gave Rogers a huge ratings number of 3.02 millions viewers on CBC while TVA Sports got 1.37 million for a total Canadian average audience of 4.39 million, while 9.4 million of us watched at least part of the game. The Canucks-Flames game one also on Wednesday night attracted an average audience of 1.98 million.

… The Toronto Blue Jays are back for another season and their season opener got an average audience of 777,000 – the most-watched away opener ever for Sportsnet. The Jays home opener on Monday night was a solid 1.22 million, making it the second highest watched sporting event of the week… Numbers for the final round of The Masters were up in the U.S. and here. Global got 1.19 million viewers watching Jordan Spieth take the green jacket last Sunday.

… TSN’s Formula 1 coverage has been terrible for a number of years now, mostly due to very little coverage of pre- or post-race activities. Now they have done something slightly to improve this, adding the BBC pre-race grid walk before select races this season, hosted by David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan. Sadly, the remaining races not covered by BBC will have zero build-up. The grid walk will feature at the following grand prix races: Bahrain (April 19), Canada (June 7), Great Britain (July 5), Hungary (July 26), Belgium (Aug. 23), Japan (Sept. 27), Russia (Oct. 11), Brazil (Nov. 15), Abu Dhabi (Nov. 29). Yes, TSN will be taking pre-race coverage from England for a grand prix held in their own backyard. Pathetic, really.

… TSN will have coverage on Monday of the Boston Marathon. Action begins at 9:30am ET on TSN2.

… If you’re a fan of lower league soccer in North America, a new television deal announced by NASL (North American Soccer League) a few weeks back should have you somewhat happy — all games are being streamed live online this season. Ottawa Fury games will stream live on their website while FC Edmonton games will be available online on CityTV Edmonton’s website. All matches featuring U.S. teams will be available via TSN GO. Both legs between these teams on April 22 and 29 as part of the Amway Canadian Championship will be streamed at CanadaSoccer.com.

… Fight Network has added TNA Impact wrestling programming to its schedule beginning the first week of April. TNA’s flagship program IMPACT will screen Fridays at 9pm ET while premiering on Saturday nights at 11pm ET is TNA Xplosion, featuring exclusive matches, recaps and historical matches. Other TNA specialty programming will also be broadcast as part of the multi-year agreement.


— Dan | @SportsOnCdnTV

News & Notes: Blundell Starts Monday, TVA Sports 3, Shaw Dropping Speed, WWE Network, More

• Former shock-jock and all round douchebag Dean Blundell makes his return to the airwaves in Toronto on Monday, heading up Blundell & Co on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. Blundell will be joined by George Rusic and Kayla Harris. Guests during his first week include Blue Jays President Paul Beeston, fellow d-bag Don Cherry, Toronto Mayor John Tory and a couple Toronto sports figures. It’s no coincidence his show launches on trade deadline day to try and get lots of ears listening, but it will be interesting to see how much, if any, insight Blundell will provide. Then again, he does watch TSN’s Sportscentre every morning. What a clown.

• TVA Sports will launch a third channel on April 15 for those on Bell Fibe/Satellite, Rogers, Videotron and Telus Optik TV. The third channel will only temporary though. It’s only sole purpose really is for showing early round NHL playoff games when there are multiple games on the same night. The channel will disappear at the end of May and will be available for free to those who already get TVA Sports and TVA Sports 2.

• WWE Network is finally available to customers with Bell Fibe and Satellite television (channel 1446). The channel went into free preview this past Monday and will run until March 22 — a week out from the grand daddy of them all, Wrestlemania. The service is $11.99 monthly and includes all 12 pay-per-views.

• Before Speed Channel was rebranded as Fox Sports Racing last week, Shaw announced it would be dropping the channel April 1. As of now, Shaw still intends to drop the channel despite the makeover. From Racing North: “The operator of (Fox Sports Racing) provided (Shaw) with little notice or explanation of the name change, and we have no information to suggest that the programming will change,” a Shaw representative stated. “Shaw does not have control over the programming or branding choices that the various networks make.” Rogers is the only major Canadian provider that currently carries Fox Sports Racing.

• Tim Thompson, most commonly known as they guy who made all those opening HNIC montages for CBC, has been let go by Sportsnet for an unknown ridiculous reason. Thompson tweeted, “Unfortunately, I won’t be working for Hockey Night In Canada anymore. I was let go today. I’ll be back at CBC Sports & am excited about it.”

• The New York Times reports that Bell Media will only pay four percent more as a result of being given the World Cup rights for another cycle until 2026, but that will increase to ten percent should the United States hold the tournament. Bell will allegedly pay $40 million for the 2022 rights. This is a steal compared to Fox in the U.S. who will be paying a ten percent increase no matter where the tournament takes place. The generous offer from FIFA is to avoid the North American networks from suing FIFA due to the 2022 Qatar World Cup being moved from the traditional summer slot to a November-December timeframe due to the Qatari weather.

News & Notes: WWE Network Adds Providers; Fan 590 Update; Motors TV in Canada?

— The WWE Network is will soon be available to more viewers in Canada. In addition to Rogers and Eastlink, the following providers will add the WWE Channel and have access to the on-demand feature: Telus Satellite (Feb 25), Videotron (Feb 25), Cogeco (Mar 26), and Telus Optik & Shaw in March sometime. Rogers has a ten-year agreement to broadcast all WWE TV and digital content which is why you can’t sign up for it without a TV provider like you can in the US – unless you have a VPN, create a fake US address, and have a Paypal account.

— In an update to this post about The Fan Toronto changing their lineup, the Globe & Mail reports that the new lineup won’t actually be presented as originally announced. Andrew Walker will join Greg Brady in the afternoon slot and not the horrible Dean Blundell in the morning slot. Ryan Pinder of The Fan Calgary is rumoured to be joining Blundell to provide sports knowledge seeing as Blundell doesn’t actually appear to know anything about local sports.

— The dead corpse that is Speed Channel will be removed from all Shaw cable and satellite systems on April 1, the last major Canadian provider that still carried the channel after the US-based network ceased to exist in its original form in August 2013. While TSN and beIN picked up Speed’s major properties such as Formula 1 qualifying, NASCAR practice/qualifying, and various motorbike championships, there is a passionate motor sports fan base who were upset they couldn’t see the niche European and Australia races (among others) Speed offered – see some of the 126 angry comments on this post about the end of Speed. Allegedly,  Fox Sports, owner of Speed in North America, wanted to increase the fees Rogers, Bell, et al. would have to pay for the channel despite the significant decrease in programming, hence the dropping of the channel at the end of each provider’s contact.

That said, Motors TV, Europe’s only dedicated motorsports channel, is expanding into North America and could fill the niche motor sport void left by Speed. Of course, the CRTC would first have to approve the channel for carriage in Canada, and then each provider would have to add the channel to their lineup – something that could take months or years to happen (see: Big Ten Network, MLB Network). With motor racing not as popular here compared to say Australia or Europe, it may be awhile before Speed fans finally get a worthy replacement.

— Hockey Night In Canada host George Stroumboulopoulos was on ESPN’s Olbermann a couple weeks ago and discusses his role as host on HNIC and the unpopularity of the NHL in America among other things. If you take one thing away from the interview, it’s that Keith Olbermann knows much more about hockey that “Strombo” does. Part 1Part 2.

— If you’re a Rogers or Shaw cable subscriber, have Sportsnet One in your lineup, and enjoy reading sports-related articles on your smartphone or tablet, good news — you get a free digital subscription to Sportsnet Magazine. Get it here.

— For rugby fans, Sportsnet World continues to hold the rights to the southern hemisphere’s two major competitions – rugby union’s Super Rugby which kicked off another season this week, and the NRL, Australia’s rugby league domestic competition. beIN has same-day replay rights to the northern hemisphere Six Nations competition which began last weekend.

— With no NFL games for the first time in months, Rogers suits must be happy to see NHL programming take the top six sports in the ratings for week ending February 9. The Raptors see their ratings increase as they continue their excellent form, though some games were beaten out by curling, EPL, and the PGA final round. Top 20 below courtesy Chris Zelkovich. Continue reading

Weekend Roundup: Future of Sports SimSub, World Cup of Hockey, eSports, Ratings

• Just days before the Super Bowl last weekend, the CRTC, overseer of Canadian television, announced that beginning with the 2017 Super Bowl, CTV would no longer be allowed to use simultaneous substitution on the US feed to insert their own commercials. This is a practice Canadian networks use numerous times every day of the year on sports and prime-time programming bringing in an estimated $250 million in revenue yearly. In the final four years of the current contract CTV has with the NFL, it is said they will lose $20 million each year that they won’t be able to show Canadian commercials to those who elect to watch the big game on a US network and the wildly popular commercials that come with it. This is a big hit and one that will affect Canadian programming, says Bell Media, though if you look at CTV’s prime-time Monday to Friday lineup, you’ll be hard pressed to find a show that isn’t American.

Could the Super Bowl end up not being shown on a Canadian network? Not a chance. The Super Bowl is part of the whole NFL package that CTV and TSN has and not an individual event that is bid on. Could the Super Bowl end up on TSN in 2017 or later? It’s possible. It is estimated only 1–2% of Canadians would miss out on watching the Super Bowl if it went to TSN — those without cable and those who aren’t close enough to the border to pickup a US signal. Could US networks be blacked out on cable systems forcing some Canadians to watch CTV or go buy an antenna? In theory, I think so, but I can’t imagine Bell Media would be willing to face the massive public backlash that would ensue from such a move.

The CRTC says they hear complaints every year that Canadians don’t get to watch the famous US commercials. These people apparently have never heard of the internet, where the commercials are uploaded seconds after they air. For now, this ruling only applies to the Super Bowl and specialty channels, meaning TSN and Sportsnet can no longer simsub to viewers either, but the CRTC did announce that as far as simsubbing for other sporting events and programming, there will be penalties for networks who screw-up the process of going to commercial or coming back from one, which is basically every network during any live event or program, be it NFL or SNL.

• The World Cup of Hockey, a glorified exhibition tournament run by the NHL, featuring only NHL players, and including two faux teams, will be held in Toronto in 2016 and according to a report from David Shoalts, Rogers has won the rights to it and Bell is pissed. Bell expected a blind auction with the highest bidder taking the rights. TSN suits were sure they would win after betting between $28 million and $32 million, but were told Rogers had won and wonder if Rogers were able to match the offer despite the blind bidding process. Even though the tournament would lose TSN up to $10 million, they still wanted a piece of that NHL pie they have been missing for six months now. It is somewhat unusual that the NHL would offer it to Rogers, presuming that’s what happened, and not want TSN to broadcast the tournament. All the other major leagues in North America are smart enough to distribute their games among numerous networks for more money — NBA: ESPN/ABC, TNT; MLB: TBS, Fox, ESPN; MLS: Fox/ESPN; and the NFL on basically every big network.

That said, per TSN’s Rick Westhead, ESPN has won the rights to the US broadcast of the “World Cup”, a network that hasn’t broadcast an NHL game since 2004 and is universally-known for not covering hockey on SportsCentre and not on their website to the extent other major sports are covered. Current solo rights holder NBC and Fox (who hold a ton of regional rights) were the other bidders. It will be interesting how ESPN covers the tournament and how many games they actually show – September is already jam-packed on their numerous networks with NFL, MLB, college football, and US Open tennis so why would ESPN spend so much money on a sport they don’t care about to only show some of the tournament or bury games on ESPN News or ESPNU? It is no secret that the popularity of hockey south of our border isn’t great. The Winter Classic had its lowest rating ever and EPL games are getting higher ratings than NBC’s national games. Maybe the NHL is hoping by going with America’s biggest sporting network, they can increase NHL viewership, but that hasn’t worked out well for two similar tournaments: the World Baseball Classic and basketball’s FIBA World Cup, both of which are on ESPN.

• The Score mobile app is one of the most popular sports apps in the world. Now, they are branching out into the world of… eSports? For those of you unfamiliar with eSports, including this blogger, it appears to be a “sport” involving watching people playing video games — there’s apparently players, owners, managers, agents, etc. The app will cover stats and news for League of Legends (Korean, North American, European and Chinese leagues) and news coverage of Dota 2, Counter-Strike: GO, Call of Duty, StarCraft II and Hearthstone. 30 employees, including 14 full-time staff, will keep the app up to date on the latest from the video game world. The app is currently available on the Google Play store with an iOS version coming soon. I guess there is more money to be made in something like this than having writers producing feature articles about real sports.

• TSN got some decent numbers with their Australian Open during the past two weeks, with Genie Bouchard’s quaterfinal loss to Maria Sharapova attracting just over one millions Canadians. With 720,000 of those viewers on TSN (304k on RDS), the match was the third most-watching sporting event in an NHL- and NFL-less week — only beat by the all-star game and skills competition (1.8m and 1.5m). Of course, it helped the match was in prime time on a Monday night without any other sport on. TSN drew around 200,000 viewers each night in the prime time slot during the third and fourth round, though in the latter stages of the tournament, including the men’s and women’s final, which were on in the early hours of the morning, those numbers dropped significantly.

News & Notes: Women in Hockey, Hockey Radio on TV, Hockey, Hockey, Hoc…

Over at noted Leafs hockey blog Pension Plan Puppets, Katie Flynn of The Score is contributing this season on a weekly basis. Her first article knocks the ball out of the park in destroying Rogers for keeping the same old boys club. In particular, not including former CBC Hockey Night in Canada host Andi Petrillo and kicking her to the curb. Of the 43 members of their broadcast team, just three are women and none feature in any broadcast booth. Petrillo is now at TSN and has been co-anchoring their Saturday morning EPL coverage and is expected to do some work for the TSN-run NHL Network Canada.

Sportsnet has announced their commentator team for English-language regional broadcasts on Sportsnet East and City. John Bartlett will be leaving behind his gig calling Canadiens games on radio and move to television in the play-by-play role. Former NHL defenceman Jason York and previous analyst for Senators regional broadcasts will join Bartlett in the booth. Rinkside reporter and hosting duties will be shared between former CBC’er David Amber and and Montreal radio and television personality Chantal Desjardins. All the information and schedule for regional Habs games are here.

Just over a month since rebranding Vancouver’s TEAM radio stations to TSN Radio, TSN1 (their British Columbia feed) has begun simulcasting an hour of TSN Radio 1040’s Canucks Lunch program with Matt Sekeres and Blake Price weekdays from 12pm to 1pm PT. This is the first time west coast radio programming has been shown on TSN and just another new additional with the expansion to five TSN channels. In Toronto, TSN Radio’s Leafs Lunch can be found on TSN4 from 12pm to 1pm ET.

NHL preseason hockey is already pulling in ratings numbers that eclipses other sports, proving again that Canadians will watch meaningless hockey in large numbers and that they all must have the same sickness. CFL and NFL filled out the top five sports in this weeks sports ratings — NFL late Sunday (785k); CFL Lions-Stamps; CFL Riders-Esks; CFL Cats-Bombers; NFL early Sunday. Sabres-Leafs comes in at six with 472k, then some more CFL and NFL, NASCAR and the final three games of the Blue Jays season (avg. 385k). Flames-Canucks and Leafs-Sabres round out the top 15 with 208k and 191k respectively. Those beat out UFC, EPL and the Ryder Cup. Toronto FC continues to struggle in the ratings getting just 87k last weekend and 29k the week before that. (Via )

TSN GO is now available to Shaw Cable and Shaw Direct customers. TSN GO is now available to Bell, FibreOP TV (Bell Aliant), Northern Tel, Rogers, and Source Cable customers who subscribe to TSN. Something that continues to confuse me is why Rogers customers can access TSN GO, yet Bell customers are shit out of luck watching Rogers’ counterpart product, Sportsnet NOW. Currently, only Rogers and Shaw customers are able to login to view SN NOW.

Videotron will finally be adding TSN1, TSN3 and TSN4 on October 29 (via Steve Faguy)

Quick Links To Good Reads

— Cherry’s sidekick Ron MacLean is kicked further aside (via Globe & Mail)
— Rogers’ Hockey Night in Canada will be a whole new game for viewers (via Globe & Mail)
— GoPro and the NHL Have Signed a Deal That Will Give Fans a Player’s POV: Footage will appear in promos, online and be woven into telecasts (via AdWeek)
Maggie the Monkey, Brian Burke and the dangers of live television: 20 Questions with James Duthie (via National Post)

Dan — @SportsOnCdnTV

Weekend Roundup, Habs on TSN, NBA TV Skeds and More

It was a busy weekend in the world of sports.  I am going to skip Good Insight, Bad Comments for the weekend because I have more important things to write about today.

Thumbs up to TSN2 who are finally beginning to air ESPN’s College Football Primetime Saturday game beginning next Saturday night. TSN2 will have Michigan-Penn State in a matchup between two of the most historic teams in the Big Ten. It looks like TSN2 will have the Saturday night ESPN game for the rest of the season, which is great news for college football fans.

Another thumbs up to TSN for picking up a package of 24 Montreal Canadiens games which will air regionally. You can read more here. As of now it looks like these games will only air on Bell; however, people who have Videotron tell me that NHL: Phoenix @ Montreal is showing up on their guide for the regular TSN channel tonight from 7-9:30, with Monday Night Football being joined in progress at 9:30pm ET. I honestly can’t see how the NFL would let TSN pre-empt Monday Night Football for hockey, so I doubt this is correct information from Videotron, but I guess we will have to wait and see. I fully expect other providers to add these games, but maybe not in time for tonight’s game against the Coyotes.

Thumbs down to CBC, who decided that the majority of the country wanted to see the Toronto Maple Leafs play the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night, instead of an all Canadian matchup from Ottawa between the Senators and the Canadiens. Even viewers in Atlantic Canada, where both the Senators and the Canadiens are considered the “home” teams by the NHL got stuck with the Toronto game. CBC thought that the Leafs game was so important that they took their HD truck down to Philly so that the Leafs game could air in HD. That left Habs and Senators fans to watch their game in 16:9 SD even though CBC services both markets with an OTA HD transmitter. Now I’m not one of those people who thinks CBC should never air the Leafs, because they should considering that the Leafs bring in good ratings. However, I think that Canadiens-Senators would have brought in just as good ratings, and probably would have had better ratings in Atlantic Canada. Plus there is no excuse for not airing the game in HD.

Speaking of the Leafs, 1.09 million viewers watched their game against the New York Rangers on Thursday night on TSN. That means that the average for Leafs games on CBC, TSN and Sportsnet so far this season (not including Saturday night’s game) is at 1.5 million. Every Leafs game on national TV so far has cracked 1 million viewers.

Well I guess I already covered the Habs earlier, so now on to some NBA TV schedule news. Rogers Sportsnet tells me that their NBA TV schedule will be available later today. As soon as it is I will post it. That only leaves the schedule for NBA TV Canada to be released. I expect that it will be today or tomorrow, and once again as soon as it is I will post it.

Some good news for those who have Shaw Cable or Shaw Direct, it looks like they will be adding NBA TV Canada HD in November. I know that many readers are looking for Shaw Direct to add Setanta HD and Euroworld Sports too. I believe that Setanta HD will eventually be added, but it might not be until at least the start of next season. Shaw Direct doesn’t have a lot of room for more HD channels now. As for Euroworld Sports, it almost certainly will not be added to Shaw Direct or Shaw Cable anytime soon. As part of Shaw’s deal to takeover Canwest they agreed not to add any channels that they have an ownership stake in (any owned by Corus or Canwest) until 2013. Euroworld Sports is owned by TLN, which is part of the Corus family. This deal has to do with the rules for satellite providers only being allowed to offer a certain amount of channels that they own compared to channels that they don’t own, and now Shaw has way too many Corus and Canwest channels compared to everything else. As a result everything they add for the next couple years will have to be channels that aren’t Canwest or Corus channels.

For more up to date information on Sports on Canadian Television, please follow me on Twitter. You will be the first to know when Sportsnet and NBA TV Canada release their NBA broadcast schedules.

Weekend Sports Roundup

Alright its 1:40am and I don’t have a lot of time and I’m tired, but I’ll give this a shot.

First of all a thumbs up to TSN. Remember back in September TSN2 was supposed to have a Monday Premier League game, but they pulled out at the last-minute because they realized that ESPN2 was no longer carrying the game, so they didn’t have a feed available to them? Of course that had some people worried that any Monday Premier League game that’s not on ESPN2, won’t be on in Canada. I expected the same thing, so I was shocked that today’s Blackburn-Sunderland game remained on TSN2’s schedule even though ESPN2 wasn’t scheduled to air it in the US. So not only did TSN do a great job at picking up the game, but they paid for the HD feed (ESPN usually saves money by getting a 16:9 SD feed) and they had their own studio show with Cory Worron (I think) hosting. So great job TSN and great job to Martin Tyler, who is the best commentator around.

Another thumbs up to CBC for their coverage of show jumping coverage at the World Equestrian Games on Saturday. I don’t really watch equestrian outside of this event and the Olympics, but the commentators made the format fairly easy to understand. The coverage also looked absolutely great in HD; CBC doesn’t broadcast their Spruce Meadows coverage in HD.

The biggest thumbs down of the weekend goes to Fox who decided it would be a good idea to start using the NFL on Fox theme for their MLB playoff coverage. Now the NFL on Fox theme is just fine (even great) for football coverage, but it should not be used on MLB coverage. And the best reason for that is because the old MLB on Fox theme was one of the best on TV and certainly said “baseball” more so than any other theme. And this song is also not present this year. Once again I expect to hear it when I tune into October baseball and I was disappointed to not hear it on Saturday and Sunday not. I know some people see this as not important, but to me it shows why Fox shouldn’t touch any sports. To me they just aren’t at the level of CBS, NBC and Turner (and even ESPN) when it comes to producing sports coverage.

Now on to my good insight of the weekend. On Sunday Night Football, NBC’s Cris Collinsworth explained that Indianapolis Colts defensive players, such as Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, have to be tremoundously athletic to get around tackles and get to the quarterback. The example that Collinsworth used was that they have to get on an angle with the ground that is only comparable to short track speed skater Apolo Anton-Ohno. Collinsworth did a great job at explaining how these great big defensive players have to be very flexible and athletic.

Unfortunately I don’t actually have any bad comments. I had a busy weekend and I didn’t catch anything too bad. I did hear that NFL on CBS announcer Don Criqui said that a challenge should have been used multiple times inside the final two minutes of a half. Of course all challenges have to come from the booth after the two minute warning.

Finally I am going to give away a weekly (or semi-weekly) award for the best commentary duo of the weekend. This weekend it goes to TBS’s Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling and John Smoltz who are calling the American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers. This is Johnson’s first season calling baseball and Smoltz’s first as a fulltime analyst. Darling has worked for TBS and done Mets games for SNY for the past few seasons and he is one of the best. However, nobody really knew what to expect from the newcomers Johnson and Smoltz, but they have been fantastic. TBS’s top crew is better than the top Fox crew of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, and ESPN’s top crew of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan in my opinion. Also the 3-man booth doesn’t work in many cases, but these three work very well together.

Sportsnet Ontario’s broadcast of Maple Leafs-Rangers on Friday night pulled in 920, 000 viewers. So far Leafs games this season have pulled in these numbers
Oct. 7, MTL-TOR, CBC: 1.968 million
Oct. 9, OTT-TOR, CBC: 2.251 million
Oct. 13, TOR-PIT, TSN: 1.26 million
Oct. 15, TOR-NYR, S’Net: 920, 000

I have to say that those are very impressive numbers for all 3 networks. So far the Leafs are gaining lots of interest among their fans. It will be interesting to see if they can keep playing good, which will supply the networks with high ratings.