SBD/17/Sports Media

IS CBC/NHL DEAL NEAR? DO FALLING LEAFS HURT LEAGUE RATINGS?

          The CBC's TV deal with the NHL is "virtually done and
     will be announced shortly," according to William Houston of
     the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL.  Sources put the deal at C$200-
     250M over five years and sources add the CBC will pay
     between C$40M-50M a year for its national package, "Hockey
     Night in Canada" (HNIC).  Houston writes the CBC was the
     "only over-the-air network" to bid for national NHL rights,
     but that the NHL and CBC "have not reached a cable
     agreement, tentative or otherwise" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/17). 
          ANALYSIS: Also in Toronto, David Shoalts writes that an
     NHL exec said the Maple Leafs' "continuing mediocrity" led
     the league to sign Labatt Brewing's deal with the CBC for
     HNIC, which was done in "a different manner than originally
     planned."  The Leafs recent performance has led to a drop in
     ratings and "there is a fear" at the league office that
     "further slides could lead to a massive hit" in TV revenue. 
     The league earlier had said it "wanted to split" the
     Canadian TV rights package into "smaller components and sell
     the promotional, broadcasting and advertising rates
     separately."  But Shoalts writes that the sale of HNIC
     sponsorship to Labatt and the CBC "makes it appear the
     package has only been split in two parts."  But when adding
     up the components of the national deal, Shoalts notes the
     total value of the national package could hit C$375M, which
     is C$44M more than was offered to the league by Molson for
     rights this summer (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/17). 

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