SBD/September 17, 2012/Media

NHL Lockout, Day 2: Network Partners Start To Look Toward Alternative Programming

AHL Marlies could see gain some more TV exposure in Canada due to NHL lockout
Canadian TV network programmers in response to the lockout are “confronting a winter of prequels, sequels and canned laughter where hockey used to be,” according to Bruce Dowbiggin of the GLOBE & MAIL. Sportsnet is “putting agreements in place” with the AHL and the CJHL “to show their games on its five channels.” In Sportsnet’s plan, Toronto fans “might see the AHL Marlies games and OHL Brampton Battalion games on Sportsnet Ontario,” while Vancouver fans “could see the Canucks’ Chicago Wolves affiliate and the WHL Vancouver Giants on Sportsnet Pacific.” Depending on the length of the lockout, the “volume of games could grow as the owners keep their star players sidelined.” Meanwhile, TSN “proposes expanded coverage" of the MLS playoffs, additional NFL coverage from ESPN, expanded '13 IIHF World Junior Championship coverage and additional college football and basketball games. CBC Head of Media Relations Chuck Thompson said, “CBC's first regular season game isn't until Oct. 11th, so there's no immediate need to roll out our plan as yet. We'll go there when and if the league starts cancelling games” (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/17). The GLOBE & MAIL’s James Mirtle noted, "During the last lockout, 'Hockey Night in Canada' became 'Movie Night in Canada,' with host Ron MacLean taking viewers through some classics every Saturday night" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/16).

IMPACT ON NBC SPORTS NETWORK: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand noted NBC Sports Network “could end up taking an untimely hit" if the NHL season is "severely delayed or canceled.” NBC Sports & Olympics VP/Communications Chris McCloskey yesterday said, "We are preparing a selection of replacement programming that includes soccer, boxing, original programming, and college football, basketball and hockey." NBC and its cable channel last year started a 10-year deal with the NHL “for games that will ... create plenty of TV tonnage.” Given NBCSN's “long-term plan to get at least close to top-of-mind among sports viewers, this is a bad time to be throwing together a big dinner with leftovers” (USATODAY.com, 9/16).
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