Change In The Air At Sportsnet?

Sorry for the delay. I was in Detroit for a family wedding.

I will write more on this later as I get more details but I am told that changes are coming at Rogers Sportsnet, similar in depth to those at the Fan 590 just over a year ago. I have been told that the changes will see several on-air talent depart the network with many new faces to replace them.

Who, you may ask. I have no clue. Well, I, like you can certainly guess, and that we will do in later posts and as I learn more. In any event I am told that the powers that be at Rogers, or #1 and #2 as McCown refers to them are going to do some major house cleaning at the tv network.

Speaking of change, while it hasn’t been confirmed yet, Sportsnet’s Fan 590 is, apparently about to name Dan Dunleavy the replacement to one Howard Berger. Dunleavy has been at the Fan for a long time, back to 1993, according to Wikkipedia anyways, and will assume the role of Toronto Maple Leafs beat reporter. Look for an announcement soon.

Things, I am told are heating up in the Leafs radio rights talks again with Rogers doing everything they can to get the radio rights on the Fan 590. While a deal hasn’t been completed yet, the parties are talking serious turkey. 640 Toronto first has to decide that they are going to sell the rights, then at the same time Rogers wants to find a away to get an extension beyond the 1 year left on the current deal. The current agreement stipulates that any new deal must go to auction. How would Rogers/MLSE avoid that provision? I am not exactly sure, but numerous sources tell me that MLSE is dying to get another property moved on to basic cable and would gladly re-up the Leafs radio gig if that station were to move to a better cable spectrum. The station I keep hearing is GOLtv.

Stay tuned.


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June 27, 2011 2:01 am

Once again, congrats for being the first to post this stuff, TSM.

Sportsnet SHOULD overhaul its on air staff in my opinion. I like the baseball guys, and the hockey guys seem fine to me (talking heads like Millard and Broadhead excepted – not a fan). But the Connected hosts are not of the same quality as the Sportscentre hosts in my opinion. Just weaker personalities and weaker on air presences. I’m sorry to see folks lose jobs, but this is a good idea.

Very interesting regarding Leaf rights.

Serious question – if The Fan gets the Leafs – how big a hole does that put TSN Radio in? That seems like a huge domino to me.

On the other hand, are Leaf rights overrated in a sense? I imagine they’re hugely expensive, and hockey play by play doesn’t necessarily translate the best on radio. I remember McCown said that once The Fan got out from under the weight of Leaf rights in the 90s, it was really able to move ahead as a station.

Maybe with the money of Rogers behind it, The Fan is better able to handle Leaf rights this time around. It would definitely be a coup. Pretty interesting, either way.

June 27, 2011 2:02 am

If that happens I guess the Raptors would probably go to TSN Radio.

June 27, 2011 4:45 am

Congrats to Dunleavy if he gets the the leafs beat job… as you TSM and other stated in the past it was time for change and Dan is a good choice…. as for changes at Sportsnet I believe the time has come..again to bad for those who will loose ther jobs but this like anywhere else good people have to move on…I personal enjoy SN but this will make them stronger….leafs radio right is just the begining if Rogers gets them.. might be just the first step in control of MSLE….thanks TSM

Sam In Scarb
Sam In Scarb
June 27, 2011 4:52 am

On-air talent at sports-net is “bland’ at best.Not only sports net Ontario but across the country,changes were needed long ago.
Also their website is brutal,it’s like my 5th choice for sports news,way way behind the times..
Is this the chance for #1 & #2 to finally rid themselves of kollins and bring back Millman to run the radio side?
He has clearly only been a caretaker on the TV side of sportsnet.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
June 27, 2011 8:26 am

I have been told that the changes will see several on-air talent depart the network with many new faces to replace them.

i wonder whether these moves are partly motivated by an attempt to cut costs. firing established guys for fresh faces allows management to restart the salary clock on what it is a fairly unskilled job. really all you need to be able to do is read the script in coordination with the tape. i doubt anyone turns to these guys for analysis.

since so much video content is available on-line these days, the importance of the news/highlight show and the sports anchor is dwindling.

June 27, 2011 8:34 am

Dan Dunleavy has become a jack of all trades for The Fan 590. From his play by play of Toronto FC, and the World Jr and his work on Rogers TV as play by play for the Miss/St. Michaels Majors, he is very diverse.

Should he take the Leafs beat reporter gig, I would think that he would want to maintain as much of his play by play portfolio as possible.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
June 27, 2011 8:52 am

Daniel, if the Raptors radio rights go to TSN Radio there will be a lot of Raptor fans up in arms over this. Hardcore Raptor fans know the indifference to basketball that TSN displays at all levels, where they have used it to fill programming, but exit out to get to hockey at the first available opportunity. They lack the basketball talent on air to cover the Raps/NBA with any credibility at all.

The Score has been the only network to cover basketball well, and in a perfect world they would have the rights, but I can’t see that happening.

Gerry (Burlington)
Gerry (Burlington)
June 27, 2011 8:52 am

Interesting news on the changes, I personally don’t mind listening to Fan590, but have always avoided Sportsnet TV for their highlights/Connected shows. Something about the way they were produced or hosted just left me feeling like TSN was much better. Even now with blend of talents I still refuse to watch Connected.

The Sportsnet webpage is terrible. I was very curious to get Doug Maclean’s take on the Columbus trade. I scoured that webpage and found nothing (i may have missed it, but it certainly was not easily found). I watched Connected this weekend trying to get his take and finally found a blurb from him. To me these are issues, when your hockey exec. guy is former Pres/GM/Coach of a team and they are involved in a big trade, wouldn’t you want to showcase his knowledge/interpretation of it?

Maple Leafs Radio Rights – Bell Media recently acquired Montreal’s radio rights through Team 990, I am sure they would love to have both Montreal and Toronto radio rights. I can’t believe with TSN’s tentacles so deeply rooted in the NHL that they can be left at the alter with no chance to bid on this. Wasn’t it years ago whent the Leafs actually made the playoffs that the big problem was who gets put on radio flagship Leafs Playoffs or BlueJays. I guess with Rogers owning Jays now that complaint is gone, but if indeed the Leafs are to make the playoffs you have a couple weeks of opening baseball which gets put on 2nd rate radio. Not a great way to promote a franchise you own.

Personally I want to see TSN get the Leafs rights only because this can continue a better competitive market between the 2 sports radio stations. The better the competition and hopefully the better the content.


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June 27, 2011 10:52 am

I almost never watch TSN for Sportscentre. I find that their on air folks are TERRIBLE. Sure, there is a couple I like, but not many.

I’d watch Connected over them any day.

It’s always good to have an occasional shake up, but I hate seeing people say TSN hosts have more personality…

June 27, 2011 11:50 am

I find Sportsnet — oops, sorry. ROGERS Sportsnet — unwatchable. Second rate Canadian production, sets, writing and, especially, hosting. Besides, I can’t get over the fact that anything ROGERS is involved with has to get the name ROGERS out there as much as possible.

It over-rides everything!

“Live from the ROGERS Centre, its ROGERS Blue Jays baseball on ROGERS Sportsnet. Brought to you by ROGERS!”

(I suspect that the powers-that-be at ROGERS just grit their teeth over the fact that they can’t get their corporate logo on the Jays uniform.)

Enough of that rant — apologies. As for Leaf rights, my suspicion is that they will end up at TSN. It is a hockey station and I imagine that MLSE wouldn’t want the conflict of Raptors and Leafs at Fan590.

I mean, ROGERS Sportsnet radio, the Fan590.

Mike Benninger
June 27, 2011 11:50 am

I never watch Sportsnet now, a did a few years ago, but always struck me as a cheap ass immitation of ESPN. I only do radio sports so they could blow up the whole thing and fire everyone and I wouldn’t even notice.

I still think we are only at the beginning of some hard times for Rogers/Sportsnet/Fan590. After the Team failed 10 years ago, they let themselves get lazy, thinking they could do no wrong, but those days are gone and Kollins seems to be out of touch.

We have smartphone apps, PVR’s, Slingboxs,podcasts, radio station apps, not to mention many more sports TV stations, all aimed at a consumer with the attention span of a caffinated Jack Russel.

My accountant and were chatting about this a few months ago and he summed it up..”I can do 2000 tax returns a year and do OK, or I can aim my efforts at 200 clients with more income and make the same $$$ but with more interesting cases and far less paperwork”…

To me, the Sportsnet/Fan590FAN has the same option, but they think getting the 8 guys making $11.00/hr on the loading dock at Leons calling into Blair to complain about a blown call at second in the 3rd inning is a good audience.

Sorry, but what you really want should be me and 2 of my friends listening, but we’re listening to a podcast or waiting for Jim Rome or Dan Patrick to come on instead.

Dave from the suburbs
Dave from the suburbs
June 27, 2011 1:22 pm

Mike Benninger said….”To me, the Sportsnet/Fan590FAN has the same option, but they think getting the 8 guys making $11.00/hr on the loading dock at Leons calling into Blair to complain about a blown call at second in the 3rd inning is a good audience.”

Yes, who wants them….surely a collection of arrogant overpaid lawyers or stock brokers would make for a more compelling group of callers.

In fact, a T-4 scan should be emailed over before you are allowed to be put on air.

Not that I make $11 an hour….but…..jeepers….

Mike Benninger
June 27, 2011 2:03 pm


In hindsight, I did sound douchey, allow me to clarify…

Audience size, while important, also must be balanced with audience quality. 590’s fetish for never ending Leaf/Jays chat/calls might get all 8 of those guys on the loading dock (where I actually worked 15 years ago…), but are they buying cars from Ready Honda or Don Valley Lexus?? Based just on the cost of living, I suspect they are on the TTC. Nothing wrong with that, but that larger audience brings zero value to those advertisers. I am lucky enough to get a car from either one, but I’m not listening anymore.
590 may still have an audience, but TSN has lots of money and lots of time to erode it away…

The present 590 programming likes picking “low hanging fruit”, but that is a short term solution to a long term problem in an increasingly fragmented media universe.

June 27, 2011 3:53 pm

@Mike Benninger – My chauffeur and I were throwing around the idea of removing all public seating at major sporting events – to be replaced with corporate boxes as far as the eye can see. Quality not quantity right?

Those guys calling into sports radio from the Leon’s loading dock probably can’t afford Sportsnet One, a quality Rogers addition…sorry, I’m stopping now before I throw up in my own mouth.

Honestly Mike, you should have stopped short on the first post. I see your point but it smacks of arrogance.

June 27, 2011 7:08 pm

Arrogance and ignorance. The world(or Rogers) needs ditch diggers to.

A Helpful Citizen
A Helpful Citizen
June 27, 2011 7:21 pm

“My chauffeur and I were throwing around the idea of removing all public seating at major sporting events…”

Okay, I’ll admit it—I laughed my balls off at that. Well played, Mauer…

Although Mike expressed his point with a level of smarmy obnoxiousness so overwhelming that said point was almost entirely lost, it *is* a valid one…in theory. The sort of advertisers coveted by Rogers (or indeed the owners of any given media outlet) tend to sell their wares to a comparatively small segment of the listening audience—as noted, there aren’t many prospective Lexus buyers or DioGuardi Tax Law clients manning loading docks, nor delivering lunches or moving furniture what have you. The tone of Mike’s piece suggested a certain inferiority common to those workers, but while that may not be a fair assessment, speaking purely in advertising terms, they ARE inferior, in so far as they have less disposable income to spend on the types of products and services that they tend to favour advertising on the radio. That there are more of them becomes irrelevant if the products you’re trying to shift are attainable by none of them—most people aren’t apt to pool their money into some sort of buying collective to get them a 1/100000th share in an LS600.

That gulf between the advertising ideal and the realities of actual listener demographics is far more pronounced on The FAN than it is on, say, 680 News. Yes, 680 tends to sell ad time to higher-end clients. But all things being equal, in practice, selling a low-cost good to more consumers makes just as much sense from an ad sales perspective as selling a handful of pricier items to fewer consumers. Because what Mike seems to miss is that an accountant can maximize his time, and thus his return on investment, by taking on fewer higher-end clients of more means. Radio doesn’t work that way. In theory, yes. In practice, no. It isn’t a less work / more work equation. One thirty second spot is one spot. Trying to sell ad time to businesses that cater to those higher-income listeners first requires the operators of said businesses to ignore the real-world demographics of a station like The FAN, which does have a handful of affluent listeners…and a metric assload of them who aren’t.

To be brutally honest, as someone who is in all likelihood a wee bit higher up the economic food chain than you are, Mike Benninger, the lion’s share of MY friends are, at best, casual sports fans. Sporting attendance is something akin to gallery openings or live theatre: It’s a pleasant but wholly replaceable diversion. The exceedingly wealthy man or woman who really gives a damn about sports will in likelihood indulge their passions in an ownership capacity rather than an attendance one (as a hardcore baseball fan, I am something of an anomaly, I’ll grant you). They certainly don’t spend the bulk of their day listening to sports radio stations (nor, for that matter, do I—the only program I listen to on The FAN apart from Jays broadcasts is PTS). You know who does spend their days doing that? The people that advertisers really ought to be chasing. Here’s a hint: They’re probably loading up a nice chesterfield and loveseat combination right now…

In fact, you are much, much closer to Leons Man in economic terms than you are to me. Some fly coach. Some fly business class. Still others, however, own their own planes. Failing to grasp the difference between economic theory and economic practice is exactly why so many people are doomed to failure before they ever start, and Rogers would be wise to remember that chasing genuine affluence on an all-sports radio station is a fool’s errand.

June 27, 2011 7:35 pm

What he said.

Chris A.
Chris A.
June 27, 2011 8:07 pm

@mike benninger

ever notice that people that talk like this about themselves in cyberspace are usually complete nobodies in the real world and resort to pumping their own tires in this fashion to make up for their own feelings of inadequacy?

anyway, whatever sportsnet does, i hope they retain evanka osmyk

Plebian Slob
Plebian Slob
June 28, 2011 2:40 pm

Anyone want to take bets that Mike Benniger and A Helpful Citizen both work on the same Leon’s loading dock together?

Gerry (Burlington)
Gerry (Burlington)
June 28, 2011 2:52 pm

Okay Plebian, I am biting, but when I find out that TSM tipped you off that Mike’s sign in email is [email protected] and Helpful is [email protected] you have to pay up!

June 28, 2011 4:28 pm

As for original topic, Yeah the current Sportsnet male anchors are pretty uninspiring, but still like them better than what they had before and whats on TSN Sportscentre now. As bland as the male anchors are, they are at least not “change the channel” types that Toth and McCormick were. The current sportsnet guys say it straight (Goddard pun not intended) which is okay

I can’t even watch TSN Sportscentre for a while now. These guys (again mostly the guys not the women) are so desperate to be the next Dan Patrick & Olbermann as it comes off as so forced. I remember Toth said “Every guy is better at this job than their woman counterpart” I can’t disagree more, actually I find the opposite. I find the women on both channels (with the exception of Hedger) to have a better combo of personality & presentation than most of their male counterpart on both TSN & SN.

Humor and personality is a difficult mix. I think the Score did it best, Sid & Tim really should still be hosting a sports show, they were great. Back in the early days of The Score, Martine and Sansone were very good too. Of course way back in the day of Sportsline with Tatti & Hebscher were as perfect a combo you would ever get doing this, naturally chemistry. The current TSN guys and former SN guys just didn’t have it.

As for Dunleavy, I think he’s this unexpected gem in the SN/Fan franchise. As a soccer fan, he does well as TFC PBP and even got acceptance from soccer snobs I know (There is some TFC snobs who complain about stupid stuff like the team being called The FC instead of TFC, which I reply to them to stop complaining about dumb stuff) and even them accepted this “outsider” as the team PBP guy. He does well in non NHL hockey tournament PBP. The few times I heard him hosting a show, I thought he did well and is good on location too. Multidimensional talent, which there isn’t too many guys like that right now in the media landscape.

June 28, 2011 8:54 pm

You guys have it wrong, it’s actually [email protected]

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