Rogers 2015–16 NHL National Television Schedule

Now into the second year of their multi-gazillion dollar deal with the NHL, Rogers will broadcast over 500 national and regional games during the upcoming season which begins tomorrow night.

Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday nights will be their national programming windows again this season, with the only major change being that Sunday’s Hometown Hockey moves from free-to-air channel City TV onto cable on Sportsnet. If the latter half of last season is any indication, it would also seem FX Canada will no longer be used for hockey programming. Thursday nights will also have a minimum of one national game and obviously, full coverage of the All-Star Game, Stadium Series, Winter Classic and the NHL playoffs.

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Your NHL Canadian TV Schedule: October 7–13

Season two of NHL on Rogers begins tomorrow night. Maybe I missed something, but I don’t think I’ve seen a single piece on the web about their upcoming broadcast season. No mention of whether it’ll be exactly the same as last year or whether they have tinkered with the commentator pairings or whether they have changed the faces and/or structure of the pre- and post-game shows after near-universal online negative feedback during their initial year. It appears on the surface, all the same talking heads will be returning this season. Can’t wait for more awkward interviews from Rogers’ “face of the youth audience” George Strombo.

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Toronto Maple Leafs 2015–16 NHL Television Schedule

Toronto Maple Leafs fans will be flipping between TSN and Sportsnet again this season in order to see their team’s games. Due to Bell and Rogers owning the team, they are in the unique situation where both networks split the 52 regional games. TSN will have 26 regional games while Sportsnet have 40 national games and only 16 regional – a result of Sportsnet able to upgrade certain regional games to national.

For TSN, Gord Miller and Chris Cuthbert will split play-by-play duties during the season with Ray Ferraro handling colour commentary. All games will be on TSN4. On Sportsnet Ontario, Paul Romanuk, Greg Millen and Christine Simpson will handle commentary duties for the regional games. Nationally, the Leafs will have 20 Hockey Night In Canada matches, 10 on Wednesday Night Hockey and just three Sunday night national appearances.

On radio, TSN Radio 1050 Toronto and Sportsnet The Fan 590 split the games 50-50 with Joe Bowen and Jim Ralph on the call for both networks.

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Vancouver Canucks 2015–16 NHL Television Schedule

All 82 Vancouver Canuck games can be found on Sportsnet again this season. There will be 34 games shown nationally with the remainder shown regionally on Sportsnet Pacific except for seven games that will be on the specialty channel Sportsnet Canucks. John Shorthouse, John Garrett and Dan Murphy return this season to commentate on all regional games.

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Ottawa Senators 2015–16 NHL Television Schedule

The English-language regional schedule for the Sens this season sees 54 games on TSN5 and 60 on the RDS network in French language. Nationally, there will be 28 games — 19 on Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada, three on Sunday nights and six on Wednesday Night Hockey. In French, TVA Sports will cover 22 games.

Sens on TSN matches will feature Gord Miller or Chris Cuthbert on play-by-play and Ray Ferraro or Jamie McLennan with analysis. TSN Radio 1200 in Ottawa will have coverage of every regular season game.

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Calgary Flames 2015–16 NHL Television Schedule

Sportsnet will have Calgary Flames fans covered this season with all 82 games broadcast nationally or regionally across the Sportsnet/CBC networks. A total of 36 games can be seen nationally — 13 Hockey Night In Canada games and seven games apiece on Wednesday NIght Hockey and Sunday night’s Hometown Hockey. Regionally, 32 games can be seen on Sportsnet West and the remaining 14 on Sportsnet Flames. Returning to the broadcast is Rick Ball, Kelly Hrudey and Roger Millions. Sportsnet 960 The Fan is the exclusive radio home of all Flames games this season.

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Edmonton Oilers 2015–16 NHL Television Schedule

Sportsnet will have coverage of all 82 Edmonton Oilers games this season with 36 national games and 46 regional ones. Kevin Quinn, Drew Remenda and Gene Principe will head up the 31 regional broadcasts on Sportsnet West and the 15 games on Sportsnet Oilers. Nationally, the Oilers can be seen on Hockey Night In Canada 15 times, eight Wednesday night broadcasts and 10 Sunday night broadcasts.

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Montreal Canadiens 2015–16 NHL Television Schedule

Sportsnet will have all 82 games of the Montreal Canadiens games this season in English-language featuring 40 games nationally and 42 regionally. Sportsnet East (31 games) and City Montreal (11 games) will have the regional games. John Bartlett will be on play-by-play, Jason York as analyst, and Chantal Desjardins as rinkside reporter and studio host.

The Habs will feature on Hockey Night In Canada on 21 Saturday nights, nine Wednesday Night Hockey broadcasts and six Sunday appearances on Hometown Hockey and they will participate in the Winter Classic in Boston on New Year’s Day.

On the French-language side, TVA Sports will carry 22 national games (all Saturday night games, the season opener and the Winter Classic) with the remaining 60 games on RDS. TVA Sports also have exclusive rights to all NHL playoff games.

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Bell files complaint with CRTC over Rogers GamePlus Feature

gamecentreBell Media, recent losers in the battle for the NHL national rights contract, has filed a complaint with the CRTC over their GamePlus feature that is available as a Rogers-exclusive on the NHL GameCentre Live app. Bell argues that the feature violates a CRTC rule that requires that content created for television must be offered to competitors. GamePlus allows viewers to choose alternate angles including RefCam and SkyCam.

The Globe and Mail elaborates on the CRTC rule:

The CRTC’s rules for vertically integrated players – companies that both create and distribute media content – bar media owners from withholding content from their rivals on the distribution front. The commission exempts online video services from its broadcast regulations, but specifies that television programming cannot be offered on mobile or Internet streaming platforms on an exclusive basis.

In an email to the Globe and Mail, a Rogers spokesperson stated, ““Clearly this programming is not designed for conventional TV. Conventional TV broadcasts the exact same program to a mass audience who all see the same content, presented the same way. With GamePlus, each fan has a unique experience. We wouldn’t have developed [the features] solely for broadcast use.”

The spokesperson then throws some massive shade, “It’s a shame that Bell is trying to stop innovation in hockey. This may be one of the reasons they failed to secure the rights in the first place. We’ve invested in significant new innovations to bring Canadians an enhanced experience.”

Bell is asking the CRTC to allow all subscribers to view GamePlus, regardless of their internet or wireless provider:

In an e-mail, BCE spokesman Mark Langton said: “We don’t see it as especially innovative that Rogers denies GameCentre consumers access to these stats and other features if they aren’t also Rogers internet or wireless customers. These consumers pay for GameCentre just like Rogers customers so why are they denied access to features available on regular broadcast TV anyway? It breaks the CRTC’s digital media rules, and it impacts all GameCentre consumers across Canada who love hockey but aren’t Rogers customers.”

Rogers has a month to respond to the complaint. The general public can also comment on the complaint via the CRTC site.

Dan — @SportsOnCdnTV

Sportsnet Unveils Multi-Million Dollar Studio for NHL Broadcasts

SPORTSNET - Sportsnet Unveils State-of-the-Art, Multi-Million DoCosting $4.5 million, spanning 11,000 square-feet, and featuring seven different sets, Sportsnet has splashed out in the design and construction of the studio for their inaugural year of national NHL broadcasting. The feature of the studio is a massive 38-by-11-foot screen nicknamed ‘Goliath’, the largest ultra-high resolution monitor ever seen in a Canadian TV studio and is made up of 170 individual panels.

Leased from CBC in their downtown studio and paid for by Rogers, the studio is no doubt the biggest viewers have ever seen on a Canadian broadcast, though if you’ve seen an American NFL broadcast in the past few years, a studio this big and fancy probably won’t be a surprise to you.

Here are the highlights from today’s media showing:

  • The Hockey Night In Canada theme has been re-recorded with a 50-piece orchestra and will be similar to the previous CBC HNIC theme. Also listen for a new Hockey Central theme.
  • Musical montages, like those famously seen during CBC’s reign, will not feature as heavily in HNIC this season to the disappointment of basically everybody.
  • The main anchor desk has a 360-degree open area allowing for filming from any angle and the studio is capable of shooting three live broadcasts simultaneously, including two sets stacked on top of each other.
  • The set was designed by the same company that created the 2010 and 2012 Olympic sets and was created and designed in eight months.

And here is the new Hockey Central studio by the numbers:

  • 40,000 feet of electrical cable
  • 500 studio lights
  • 52 total screens
  • 14 cameras
  • 24 wireless microphones
  • 9 distinct sets including the main anchor desk, three regional sets, George Stroumboulopoulos’s interview set, and a LED video wall and floor area.

Finally, some pretty pictures:

Dan — @SportsOnCdnTV

Details of Sportsnet’s New NHL Broadcast Agreement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013-14 Senators on Sportsnet Schedule

Here is the press release:

Sportsnet today announced its 2013-14 Ottawa Senators regional broadcast schedule, featuring 54 regular season games, more than any other Canadian broadcaster. Coverage starts with the Senators season opener on Friday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. ET on Sportsnet East when they visit the Buffalo Sabres in an Atlantic Division showdown. (Click here for Sportsnet’s complete 2013-14 Senators TV broadcast schedule).

Forty-seven of Sportsnet’s regular season Senators games will air on Sportsnet East, while seven will air on the Sportsnet ONE companion channel, Sportsnet Sens.

All broadcasts will feature play-by-play announcer Dean Brown, analyst and former Stanley Cup Champion Denis Potvin and host Ian Mendes.HOCKEY CENTRAL will preview every game with a half-hour pre-game show, and will also provide intermission and post-game analysis.

Highlights from Sportsnet’s Ottawa Senators broadcast schedule include:

·         Six all-Canadian matchups, including games versus Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary
·         The Senators takes on the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. ET
·         A visit from former Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson and the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET
·         Three games versus Original Six teams in the newly realigned Atlantic Division, including Boston and Detroit

And the full schedule.

2013-14 Maple Leafs on Sportsnet Schedule

This week TSN and Sportsnet are releasing regional NHL TV schedules for the upcoming season. TSN also released its national slate yesterday. I will post links to all of the schedules, as well as the press releases.

All of Sportsnet’s 23 regular season Maple Leafs telecasts will air on Sportsnet Ontario and will feature veteran play-by-play announcer Joe Bowen, analyst and former NHLer Greg Millen and host Paul HendrickHOCKEY CENTRAL will preview every game with a half-hour pre-game show, and will also provide intermission and post-game analysis.


Highlights from Sportsnet’s Toronto Maple Leafs regular season TV broadcast schedule include:

·         Two all-Canadian showdowns versus Edmonton and Calgary

·         A matchup with 2013 Stanley Cup finalists Boston Bruins on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. ET

·         Maple Leafs visit Steel City to take on Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. ET
Sportsnet keeps Toronto Maple Leafs fans connected to their home team first as the exclusive Canadian broadcaster of 24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic. The series will provide an all-access pass to the events leading up to the 2014 NHL Winter Classic, featuring the Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings playing outdoors at Michigan Stadium on the University of Michigan campus. The series will air on Sportsnet and City (broadcast schedule to be announced at a later date)

Full schedule

Onrait and O’Toole A Good Hire for Fox

Onrait and O'Toole with the Prime Minister at last November's Grey Cup (credit: PMO/Jason Ransom)

Onrait and O’Toole with the Prime Minister at last November’s Grey Cup (credit: PMO/Jason Ransom)

Fox aims to do the unthinkable when it launches Fox Sports 1 this August, overtake ESPN as the most watched sports channel in America. And it certainly has a chance. At launch it has MLB (beginning in 2014), NASCAR (including Sprint Cup races in 2015), college football and hoops, just like ESPN. Fox Sports also has UEFA Champions League and FIFA tournaments beginning in 2015. All Fox is missing out on are the big events (minus the World Cup) that ESPN and Turner’s TNT have. ESPN has the BCS, Turner has March Madness. ESPN has weekday coverage of three of golf’s majors, TNT has the other. ESPN also has all four tennis Grand Slams.

Due to the long-term nature of broadcast contracts, there isn’t a lot more Fox can do to compete with ESPN. They can compete with ESPN’s highlight programs though. Late Friday news came that the faces of TSN’s SportsCentre, Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, were leaving TSN for new jobs in Los Angeles along with “Producer Tim”. It was quickly confirmed, as I initially speculated, that these jobs were at Fox for the new nightly news show “Fox Sports Live”, which will air weeknights from from 11pm until 2am Eastern. The new program will compete directly with ESPN’s SportsCenter, something that sports channels in the US are usually reluctant to do.

While SportsCenter is incredibly popular, it does have its faults. There is certainly a base in American looking for something new and refreshing. Fox is known for going against the establishment and trying new things, and gimmicks, in sports broadcasting. Some, like the FoxBox, have stuck. Others, like the glowing puck, not so much. Onrait and O’Toole certainly fit the Fox ideal of different, and yes, at times gimmicky. Not that it usually detracts from their broadcasts. After Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick, who also called their SportsCenter “The Big Show”, ESPN would never go for a duo potentially bigger than the network like Onrait and O’Toole.

Last year The Wall Street Journal wrote an article on Onrait and O’Toole asking “Why Can’t We Have Canada’s SportsCentre?”. Now you do, America. And before anyone asks, no I do not know if Fox Sports 1 will be available in Canada.

theScore to Rogers… Last Tuesday the CRTC finalized the sale of theScore Television Network to Rogers. Sportsnet immediately took control of it, although it will go by theScore until a rebrand on Canada Day. Live @ theScore and the Footy Show both ended Monday, without so much as a goodbye. You can read Kristian Jack and James Sharman’s final thoughts on the Footy Show here. A new “Hockey Central Xtra” replaced Live @, airing from 5-6pm Eastern on weeknights with a mix of theScore and Sportsnet on-air talent. Tim and Sid returned to theScore with a simulcast of their Fan 590 radio show on Wednesday. In other immediate changes Monday Night Raw is now live and theScore will have 8 Toronto FC matches this season.

Rogers valued the transaction at $172 million, while Rogers will contribute $17.1 million to a tangible-benefits package for amateur sports in Canada. The CRTC did deny Rogers’ idea of using the tangible benefits package to create a Canadian version of the X Games. The CRTC’s main problem is that in the broadcasting community, Rogers would exclusively benefit from the “Sportsnet Winter Games”. I agree. What’s the point in a required investment to improve amateur sports and broadcasting in Canada if the company paying is the lone company to benefit? As a result, Rogers must submit an alternative plan by the end of the month.

What interests me are the interventions put forward by other media companies. Eastlink asked the CRTC to reclassify theScore as a “mainstream sports service”, similar to TSN, TSN2 or Sportsnet ONE. The CRTC opened up this sector to Canadian competition a few years ago. Previously TSN had protection. theScore enjoys similar protection as a sports news service. Unless Eastlink plans on launching a sports news channel, which seems unlikely, I find this is an odd intervention. Bell’s intervention was also interesting. Bell wanted the new license to include a condition to prevent theScore from tape-delaying programming by 15 minutes to get around live-programming rules imposed on it. theScore has previously done this with Serie A soccer and WWE.

I expect theScore will continue to air mostly basketball, soccer, WWE and college/university/amateur sports. The channel has found a niche with these sports, and I think for the most part Rogers will continue this. Rogers has already bought rights to FIBA basketball tournaments for theScore. Sportsnet has rights to CIS football and basketball games that air on Fox and Fox Sports 1 in the US. The CIS Hockey Championship would also make sense for theScore. There’s also always more room for UEFA Champions League group stage matches. WWE will continue to anchor theScore’s line-up on Monday and Friday. Regardless of whether it’s a sport, it is theScore’s highest-rated program. It consistently competes with Monday Night Football for the best cable ratings on Mondays in the fall. Limitations on the amount of live sports broadcasts will limit how many live games can air on theScore.

One thing I think Sportsnet really needs to capitalize on is the Footy Show’s popularity, even if it is gone. James Sharman, Kristian Jack, Brendan Dunlop, John Molinaro, and Thomas Dobby are all working for the same company again. The best time period for the podcast is when they were on it, in my opinion. Either a podcast or radio show would be great.

Late Starts… Anyone reading this live in St. Louis, Chicago or Minnesota? I hate the idea of 8:30pm local starts in the playoffs just for TV. The NBA does it regularly, but the NHL only started this year. I think one reason for this, aside from pleasing CBC and NBC, is to test the waters for next season when the divisional playoff format begins. One or two series in next year’s first round will feature two Central Time teams. That will create headaches for the NHL with three-quarters of all playoff games in the Eastern or Central time zones. Moving to an NBA-style schedule is one way to fix it. In other news, puckdrop of game 5 of the Kings-Blues series will be at 9pm Eastern, which means CBC will have to miss the first period since it conflicts with the Leafs-Bruins game. No word if cable/satellite providers will make this game available on an alternate channel yet.

Dowbiggin GoneToronto Sports Media is reporting that the Globe & Mail will not re-new Bruce Dowbiggin’s contract. I have heard the same thing. While Bruce could, at times, write a good piece on sports media, I thought his columns took a sharp dive when he began writing mostly about hockey and sports in general. Since Dowbiggin does love to include Tweets in his columns, here’s one to prove my point:

Now before I get into a rant defending Gryba (not on the hit, but in general), I just want to say he had a +28 rating in the minors this year. He was -3 logging 20 minutes a game for the Senators during the regular season. He blocked more than a shot a game, good enough for tenth among rookies. As this Ottawa Citizen article points out, you can’t judge Gryba (or many other defensemen) by their offensive output. Seems obvious, but isn’t to everyone I guess.

The Globe will have other writers write about sports media when needed. Media columnist Steve Ladurantaye already writes about sports media from time to time, while soccer columnist John Doyle has written about Fox Soccer Report and (the lack of) beIN Sport in Canada. While it is sad to see the last regular sports media in a mainstream paper, it wasn’t the same since Bill Houston retired and the Star axed Chris Zelkovich’s column anyway.