TSN Seeking Rights To Replace NHL Coverage, Battle Rogers For Canadian Cable
TSN is "vowing to do everything it can to restock its shelves and remain on top of the Canadian cable TV business" despite the impending loss of NHL rights beginning next fall, according to Chris Zelkovich of YAHOO SPORTS CANADA. That means "making serious bids for every other sports property that's up for grabs to combat Rogers Communications." CTV President for Programming & Sports Phil King said, "I can assure you TSN will be aggressive and will be at the table for literally everything else that's available." Zelkovich reported the properties "up for grabs in the next year include" Senators regional rights, UFC and European soccer. Sources said that the Senators regional rights "could involve as many as 60 games a year." King "conceded that losing the NHL was a major blow and that by cornering the NHL market Rogers put itself in a great position to end TSN's decades-long reign as Canada's most-watched specialty channel." But he added that "dropping to second place, a move that could negatively affect TSN's ad rates, isn't a foregone conclusion." King said that despite the drawing power of the NHL in Canada it "won't be easy for Sportsnet to overtake TSN in the ratings." Zelkovich noted TSN's average audience is "about 40 per cent higher than Sportsnet's today." The NHL accounts for about 20% of TSN's audience, "so hockey alone won't close that gap." King said that over the next few years there will be "more emphasis on soccer" on TSN. There also will be "even more games from the world junior hockey championship and there could be more NBA games, especially if Rogers has to give up some Raptors content to make room" for the NHL and the Blue Jays (CA.SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/13).