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NHL'S CANADIAN MAKEOVER: TSN OUT AS CTV INKS FOUR-YEAR DEAL
Published November 24, 1997
The NHL announced a new Canadian cable agreement with CTV Sports Net for English language cable telecast rights in Canada. The four-year deal will take effect at the start of next season. CTV will broadcast 27 regular-season games, including two broadcasts for each of the Canadian teams, as well as coverage of up to 14 first-round playoff games of U.S.-based clubs (NHL). In Toronto, Rob Longley called the deal "a stunning hit from behind" for incumbent rights holder TSN, adding that CTV's new sports network "will gain instant credibility in the Canadian TV marketplace." Sources put the deal at C$60M (TORONTO SUN, 11/22). DETAILS: NHL Senior VP & COO Steve Solomon said that the CTV offer was "modestly higher" than the TSN offer. TSN President Jim Thompson: "We lost it. We're obviously very disappointed." When asked why TSN lost the rights, Thompson said, "Don't know" (Rick Matsumoto, TORONTO STAR, 11/22). Also in Toronto, David Shoalts called the deal "a devastating blow" to TSN, and added that "there had been complaints" from Western teams that TSN "was too Toronto- oriented" in its programming. Insiders "believe TSN lost the contract because it was unwilling to pay more than [C]$10 million a year," and that CTV "had agreed to pay more than" C$60M over four years (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/22). In Montreal, Pat Hickey: "The question is whether [CTV] can convince cable companies to buy the product and pass the cost on to their viewers. The question is whether there are enough advertising dollars to carry CTV Sports Network during the days when there is no hockey" (GAZETTE, 11/23).