SBD/July 2, 2013/Media

TSN, Sportsnet Battle For Canadian Sports Rights To Lessen Impact Of Online Shift

The CFL's five-year extension with TSN in March is "the latest in a flurry of announcements from the country’s highest-rated all-sports TV network and its rival, Sportsnet, as the broadcasters scramble to lock up the rights they need to draw viewers" in Canada, according to Steve Ladurantaye of the GLOBE & MAIL. TSN and Sportsnet "combined for about" C$500M in revenue last year, and made C$55M in profits. As viewers "turn away from paid TV in bigger numbers, the stations and their owners are looking to their sports holdings to keep subscribers from cutting the cord." There are 12 million households in Canada that have "traditional TV subscriptions, but the pace of growth has slowed and the numbers are expected to start falling off in the next year as more turn to options" such as Netflix. TSN has "led the Canadian market since making its debut almost 30 years ago." Both TSN and Sportsnet "insist they will hold the No. 1 spot two years from now." Sportsnet, which has among its holdings "specifically targeted sports channels, radio stations and a sports magazine, beat TSN in audience share in April, and appears set to do it again in June." It is a "small win, but it would have been unimaginable even 2 1/2 years ago, when new management was brought in and promised to take over [the] top spot within five years" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/2).

RING THE BELL: VARIETY's Brendan Kelly reported Bell Canada is "finally getting its hands on rival broadcaster Astral Media." Bell following an offer rejected last fall made a second offer "to please" federal regulator Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission, and "the final deal includes a lot fewer assets." The takeover "radically revamps the TV landscape in Canada and makes Bell easily the top player." It will have "a 35.8% market share in English-Canada and will be the second-biggest TV owner in French Canada, with 22.6%" (VARIETY.com, 6/28).
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