NHL Lockout, Day 26: CBC Has Much At Stake In Upcoming Negotiations For TV Rights
The Friends Of Canadian Broadcasting issued a statement on the financial impact of the CBC losing "Hockey Night In Canada," saying that the cost of "replacement programming for almost 400 hours worth of 'HNIC' per season would be far more devastating to the national broadcaster than the simple loss of the NHL games," according to Bruce Dowbiggin of the GLOBE & MAIL. Under its mandate, the CBC "can’t fill those hours with U.S. programming." The net would "have to create Canadian content, which is both expensive and rarely captures anywhere near the audience that 'HNIC' does." FOCB’s statement "estimates that production cost at approximately" $500,000 (all figures U.S.) per hour for a total cost of $200M. Sources also "dispute that figure but admit that the replacement cost would be significant." The statement also reflects a "previous estimate that, while down from a higher split in the past, 'HNIC'’s portion of ad revenues is still about 53 per cent of CBC’s total." The program currently "pays for itself after its estimated" $100M fee to the league. In most years, a "small amount is left over for other CBC programming." FOCB estimates that "leftover" at $15M per year. But a source "disputes that figure." FOCB said that it will "be demanding answers about 'HNIC'’s future" on Nov. 19 when the Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission begins its review of the CBC's broadcast licenses. Adding to the CBC’s problems is that the "cost of a new NHL contract is likely to be far more than the $100-million annual cost now paid." The NHL "wants to seriously step up its national Canadian TV revenues in this cycle." It also is "believed to want to diversify those rights across more than a single broadcaster." Sources said that the "next national TV deal might look more like an NFL national contract, spread out across all the interested broadcasters." So, the CBC "might retain a Saturday 'HNIC' package" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/10).
MONEY MARKET: In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch wrote with the NHL in a labor stoppage, the CBC, TSN and Sportsnet "might save money initially" because not only do the nets "not have to shell out the huge rights fees they pay to the NHL, they don't have production costs." A TV exec "estimated it typically costs $75,000 to produce a broadcast." CBC was scheduled to show 101 games "if this season had started on time." But if the season is cancelled, "that's $7.6 million not spent on production." TSN and Sportsnet are "doing the same math." While Sportsnet does not have a national contract, it "produces more hockey than anybody else with regional rights in Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary." Still, where the lockout "will hurt is with advertisers" (OTTAWA SUN, 10/10). In Montreal, Brenda Branswell notes RDS Head of Communications & PR Katia Aubin "wouldn't put a figure on the lost advertising revenue caused by the lockout." But she said that the net "saves on production costs and not having to pay broadcast rights while the season is halted." Instead of what would have been today's Canadiens season opener, RDS "will televise the Tournee des joueurs game in Quebec City featuring locked-out NHL players." Canadiens G Carey Price, LW Brandon Prust and Predators D Hal Gill are "among those suiting up" for the 7:30pm ET game. Aubin added with MLB playoffs "the next few weeks it will be wall-to-wall baseball." There also will be "football -- CFL and NFL" (Montreal GAZETTE, 10/11).
ALL AMERICAN: In Buffalo, John Vogl notes the AHL Rochester Amerks yesterday announced that "16 of their games will be shown throughout Western New York on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel." The "first of 14 home games" will air Oct. 19. The games "will be simulcast with the Amerks' radio broadcasts," with Don Stevens doing play-by-play and former NHLer Ric Seiling serving as analyst. TWC also will "broadcast two road games from Syracuse and pick up the Crunch's play-by-play feed" (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/11).
A NEW KIND OF PLAY-BY-PLAY: SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote of ESPN on Tuesday airing its first KHL game, the "broadcast was surreal ... but a funhouse of ad libs, Cold War comedy, and a focus far away from the play on the ice." ESPN's Steve Levy and Barry Melrose called the game and "their lack of familiarity with some of the KHL's figures provided viewers with memorable moments." Neither "pretended to be KHL savants." They spent "much of the broadcast discussing NHL issues rather than the build-up of play on the ice." Levy said, "I thought there was more value to Barry talking about the NHL lockout among other topics than me naming players no one in our audience has ever heard of who were making insignificant plays." Deitsch noted Melrose throughout the game "channeled his inner Yakov Smirnoff and at one point referenced the Soviet Union in the present tense." ESPN officials "will survey the interest and enthusiasm from viewers and decide whether they want to keep airing games weekly" (SI.com, 10/10).