SBD/November 27, 2013/Media

Loss Of NHL Rights Seen As Big Blow To TSN; Could On-Air Talent Move To NBC?

TSN still beats Rogers Sportsnet in most ratings metrics
Rogers Communications' 12-year, C$5.2B media rights deal with the NHL is a "significant blow" to current rights holder TSN, according to Eric Atkins of the GLOBE & MAIL. The loss of national rights "could mean a drop in ad revenue and subscriber fees paid by cable companies" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/27). In Toronto, Rush & McGran note on "most ratings metrics, TSN still beats Rogers Sportsnet, remaining the most-watched specialty channel in the country and it has better known sports personalities." But "all that could change" (TORONTO STAR, 11/27). YAHOO SPORTS CANADA's Chris Zelkovich wrote, "In this country, if you don't have the NHL you can't be seen as a serious player." There is "nothing out there that can produce the audiences or ad revenues that hockey does" (CA.SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/26).

TRYING TO SURVIVE: In Toronto, Rob Longley writes TSN will survive, as its programming roster is "deep and the established audience strong." Over time, though, there will "surely be an erosion in that status on top of the big strike Tuesday." CFL ratings are "at an all-time high, but other than three games a year, don’t touch big-time hockey." The World Junior Hockey Championships "are huge," but TSN "can't have four world juniors in one year." The NFL also is an "important property for TSN and it still has some regional Leafs content." But "not only is the cupboard less bountiful today, the protein is desperately short." Meanwhile, if TSN thought losing Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole to FS1 "was a big blow to 'Sportscentre,' this is potentially even bigger." Nightly sports news programs "depend on strong 'lead-in' programming with a carry-over audience." There is "no better lead-in than live NHL hockey" (TORONTO SUN, 11/27). In Vancouver, Cam Cole writes, "Try to imagine what TSN is going to fill its 24/7/365 sports hole with until the end of the 2025-26 NHL season, if the only hockey it's got are regional games" for the Jets and Canadiens, the World Juniors and "a few less prestigious properties." TSN has "developed a strong product and a deep, smart, high-calibre cast of characters." On the surface, the NHL's decision to "take the money and run from its most competent sports broadcast partner seems apt to produce sub-standard television for a while" (VANCOUVER SUN, 11/27).

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote, "No matter if you're Team Sportsnet or Team TSN, you have to tap the stick for the way the latter covered the game." TSN had "innovations in camerawork and reporting, like the 'inside the glass' stuff." They had studio shows that "felt like appointment viewing," and had insiders that "you felt were completely connected, sometimes to a fault." The end of TSN's NHL coverage "comes as no fault of their own." Meanwhile, TSN’s "loss could be NBC’s gain should they opt to take advantage of it." TSN talent like James Duthie, Darren Dreger and Ray Ferraro "could be looking for new addresses." With NBC's Liam McHugh "in studio, the Duthie fit might not be perfect, but he’s as good as it gets." NBC "lacks the kind of insider voice Dreger could provide," and Ferraro is "one of the best analysts working today." Any number of TSN talents could "bolster the Peacock’s coverage" of the NHL (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/26).
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Media, NHL, Rogers Communications, TSN

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