NBC's Success With "SNF" One Reason Rogers Will Roll Out Sunday Night NHL Games
The NHL as part of its 12-year, C$5.2B rights deal with Rogers will debut a national Sunday night package of games, and the league for several years has "eyed Sunday night as a prime time for additional hockey to be broadcast to Canadians, inspired by the ratings bonanza" that NBC’s "SNF" sees in the U.S., according to David Ebner of the GLOBE & MAIL. NHL COO John Collins said, "There’s definitely a plan with Rogers to introduce that next year. It’s going to be one of the national nights." NHL Exec VP/PR & Media Gary Meagher said it is "too early for details on what Sunday night will look like," but noted it is "safe to say it will be a ‘marquee’ matchup." "HNIC," the "long-standing flagship on CBC, will continue, produced by Rogers and broadcast for four years on CBC." However, the show "doesn’t have the same hold over Canadians ... in week-to-week ratings as it does as a symbol and a touchstone in its mythic status in the country’s collective, atavistic imagination." Univ. of Toronto professor Rick Powers said that a "challenge for the NHL will be the NFL." In the months the "regular seasons overlap (October through December), timing of broadcasts and matchups will be important." York Univ. lecturer Vijay Setlur said, "The league in the past shied away from going head-to-head with some of the bigger sports properties like the NFL. Perhaps they were a bit tentative. Now there’s a confidence" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/18). In Toronto, Raju Mudhar wrote under the header, "Expect Plenty Of Shuffling As Result Of Rogers-NHL TV Deal." Mudhar listed the things about the production that he thinks "would work well or could use change," including the overall tone; the pre-game show; Don Cherry; keep the opening montages; and additions and new ideas (TORONTO STAR, 12/18).
TSN RE-UPS WITH ESPN: TSN and French-language network RDS yesterday announced that they have extended their multiyear deal with ESPN Int'l, allowing the Bell Media platforms to retain exclusive Canadian access to ESPN original programming. Highlights of the agreement include rights to ESPN's college football coverage and ESPN Films content. Bell Media Radio holds radio rights, while TSN and RDS digital platforms will carry ESPN digital content (Bell Media). Even with the ESPN deal, TSN Communications Dir Greg McIsaac in an e-mail wrote hockey will “remain core” to the net, citing regional deals with the Maple Leafs, Jets and Hockey Canada. McIsaac wrote while the ESPN programming is not Canadian, “the strength of TSN has always been the breadth and depth of our broadcast schedule." This partnership with ESPN "underscores our commitment to bringing our viewers, clients, and partners the world’s top sports content" (TORONTO STAR, 12/18).