SBD/August 25, 2011/Media

Rogers Shifts Gears By Partnering With Quebecor On French-Language Net

Rogers Communications is teaming with Quebecor Inc. "to boost its new sports channel, TVA Sports, when it launches in mid-September," according to Susan Krashinsky of the GLOBE & MAIL. The agreement will see Rogers Sportsnet and the French-language TVA Sports "unite for co-productions for both channels, and most importantly, to act as a meaningful bidder against BCE Inc.-owned TSN and its French-language counterpart, RDS, in the fierce competition over the rights to broadcast sports events in Canada." Rogers Media President of Broadcasting Scott Moore said that in Canada, "rights deals are often predicated on the broadcaster being able to offer distribution of the sports events in both languages and a nationwide reach." Krashinsky notes prior to this partnership, the "only broadcaster that was able to offer that was TSN." The deal with Quebecor is a "change in strategy for Sportsnet, which has been working recently to build a sports media empire under a single brand" and was granted a license to start its own French-language sports network. But with TVA Group's "existing market base as the largest broadcast network in Quebec, competing with both RDS and a new TVA-branded sports channel presented a challenge." TVA Sports will broadcast Blue Jays games in French, and the agreement also gives the network "regional rights to Ottawa Senators hockey games in French" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/25).
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