SBD/Issue 19/NHL Season Preview

Catching Up With CBC Sports Executive Director Scott Moore

CBC Sports Exec Dir
Scott Moore

The CBC drops the puck on its coverage of the '10-11 NHL season tonight with a "Hockey Night in Canada" doubleheader led by Canadiens-Maple Leafs, which just so happens to be a dream ratings matchup for CBC Sports Exec Dir Scott Moore. After three and a half years at the CBC and a prior stint at Rogers Sportsnet, Moore knows full well what moves the needle for hockey fans in Canada, and he has his finger on the pulse of the emerging technologies necessary to stay relevant with fans. Staff Writer Erik Swanson recently spoke with Moore about his days as a producer, the possibility of another NHL team in Canada and common viewer complaints.

How many hockey games would you estimate you watch in a given year? I probably watch between 50-80 hockey games a year, minimum.
Best sporting event you ever attended: One of the best ones I've ever been at was the outdoor game at Wrigley Field, partially because I'd never been to Wrigley Field even to see a baseball game. Another top one would be the World Cup in South Africa.
Finish the sentence: Don Cherry's suits are ... tough on the cameras.

Q: What's your dream Stanley Cup matchup in terms of ratings?

Moore: My dream Stanley Cup matchup in terms of ratings isn't possible, it's Toronto vs. Montreal. But from a ratings standpoint, from a Canadian standpoint, it would be Toronto vs. Vancouver, which many cynics in Toronto would say is equally improbable for other reasons.

Q: So that would out-rate any U.S. team such as Pittsburgh or Washington?

Moore: Well, certainly we've seen over the last couple of years that while hometown plays for us, the quality of the team and the stars involved also are important. So Pittsburgh and Washington are teams that we'd love to see. I think in the Eastern part of the country, Boston plays very well. Almost any time you put an Original Six team in like Chicago it's good. Ideally, no matter who is in, you want a close series and a series that goes to seven games.

Q: With all the emerging technologies (3D, mobile, online, etc.), what do you see in the future of hockey viewing?

Moore: Well we announced (last week) that we'll be doing a number of games in 3D, so that is certainly something that's on the near horizon. I would suggest that anything that makes the experience more immersive will be top of mind, so 3D obviously is that. Anything that is engaging from a multi-platform standpoint, or what I call a multi-appliance standpoint, will be something we'll look at. Mobile is certainly going to change the game with the new iPad and the new BlackBerry tablet. A lot of people are going to be watching these games on the go.

Q: How soon do you think we will see another NHL team in Canada, and where will it end up?

Moore: I would like to think it's close. I would like to think that it may happen within four years, but there are a lot of bridges to cross still. Certainly the signals are from the commissioner that if he had a first choice it would be to, as he says, right a past wrong. And that might indicate Winnipeg and Quebec.

Q: What's the hardest part of your job? What keeps you up at night?

Moore: Distribution, as to over-the-air, cable, online, mobile, and where that points to for the consumer and where they will want to consume those products. I don't worry about production. "Hockey Night in Canada" has historically been great at production, it's been a leader. But it's where the product lives and who controls those lines of distribution.

Opinionated Cherry Still Drawing
Reactions From "HNIC" Viewers

Q: What do you hear the most complaints about from sports viewers?

Moore: Sports viewers are incredibly passionate, and they love to complain about all sorts of things. We hear complaints that their team is not shown nationally enough. We hear complaints about Don Cherry and his viewpoints. I guess those are the two biggest things.

Q: You ran your own production company between your time at Sportsnet and the CBC. How did the experience of working for yourself compare to your two major network stints?

Moore: There was a lot less bureaucracy in my production company. (Laughs) I'm a producer at heart. I love to produce; I love to story tell. When I had my own production company I was producing my own shows, but at Sportsnet and here I am an executive and I have to be disciplined enough to let the guys who work with me -- the producers, who are excellent -- do that production without me. I get to watch as opposed to do.

Q: Any desire to work for yourself again?

Moore: About every other hour. (Laughs) There are advantages to working within a larger corporation -- you're able to do more. Everybody dreams of being their own boss, but even when you have your own production company, you end up actually with more bosses because you have so many clients. I love what I do. I love being at the CBC where you get a chance to produce great content that gets in front of 99.9% of Canadians. It's worth having a boss for.

Q: Do you see yourself getting back into production in the future?

Moore: I'd like to say yes, but I think the reality is it's a younger man's game. You have to be prepared to travel even more than I travel. You have to be prepared to eat, sleep and breathe it. I hesitate to admit that I may be past it.

Q: What major sports business story are you following right now?

Moore: A major story for us in Canada is following what happens in the next Olympic negotiation, both in the U.S. and Canada. That's of interest. And certainly, relating to hockey, the possibility of having another Canadian team in the NHL is something that we're extremely interested in.

Q: How much is the NHL labor situation on your radar?

Moore: It's certainly on our radar in that every pro sport has that issue. If you're looking at it from a near-horizon standpoint, the NFL has to get through their situation first, which will have an impact on the NHL. We would hope that both leagues will resolve their situation without any work stoppage.

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