Real Shocker That Competition Is Gunning For HNIC Rights


Stunning news that Rogers and now Bell are interested in the rights to Saturday night hockey games currently held by the CBC. It’s by far the most valuable piece of sports real estate on the tv landscape and Bell and Rogers are the biggest players. With the taxpayers network floundering, both companies smell blood and in 2 short seasons the crown jewel becomes available.

2 years is a long time. So who knows what the Taxpayers network will be able to pull out of a hat, but having read the excellent piece about the last round of negotiations between Bettman and the CBC in Macleans it will be no easy walk in the park for the taxpayers network. Bettman, will be pressured to get the most bang for the buck and that simply won’t happen with the CBC.

This seems to be rather elementary. The right go to the highest bidder with the widest coverage. Rogers and Bell trump the CBC. Whomever writes the biggest cheque wins. The question is will the league be back playing before the end of the current contract.


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Robert C.
Robert C.
May 30, 2012 3:02 am

Also tucked away in the news was CityTV/Sportsnet getting the rights to HBO 24/7 on the Leafs/Red Wings. Maybe the unbleeped version will be on Sportsnet and edited one on City? I’m just speculating but at least it will be available to a lot more people in Toronto.

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
May 30, 2012 3:43 am

I Think Bell will end up getting the rights with CTV getting HNIC rights and TSN getting more games. SN will get some games but the properties Rogers owns is not even close to matching Bell’s CTV/TSN.

May 30, 2012 5:02 am

It will be weird for an owner ( co) of one club to have league rights, bit not unprecedented i guess.

Turner and both mlb/nba?
Fox and dodgets?
Comcast and flyers?

Stephen in Pickering
Stephen in Pickering
May 30, 2012 8:58 am

Although it will be a tough sentimental move, the timing will be just about right for Ron and Don to retire gracefully.

May 30, 2012 9:05 am

Dave, I’d lean toward Bell as well, be I still wonder about CTV’s commitment to HNIC. Are they going to follow the CBC model with Saturday nights?
Even with all the CTV/CTV2 stations I can’t see them broadcasting the playoffs like CBC – interrupting end-of-year prime time American programming to show hockey. There is NO WAY that CTV would do that. CTV can’t be bothered to pre-empt repeats of their American Sunday shows to show the Grey Cup, leaving it with TSN. I realize TSN does great numbers on the Grey Cup, but wouldn’t/couldn’t it be more on CTV?
Is CTV going to treat the NHL like NBC does? show a smattering of games, and maybe half the Stanley Cup final (if they can squeeze it in between Dancing with the Stars, Idol, and So you think you can dance).
Ugh. please no.

May 30, 2012 11:25 am


Excellent points. CTV invests tremendously in their US Prime Time properties, particularly reality shows which traditionally draw outstanding numbers in Canada.

I do not think that it is as simple as whomever writes the biggest cheque wins the day, and this maybe rose coloured glasses thinking but I do also think that Gary Bettman sees a tremendous amount of value in the long-standing relationship between CBC and Hockey Night.

What I can see is Rogers and CBC teaming up for a very competitive bid with the Hockey Night remaining the CBC Saturday staple.

I think it would be a crying shame to see the CBC no longer being affiliated with the Hockey Night brand. Some traditions should never die.

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
May 30, 2012 11:53 am

I think the creation of CTV2 is a way for CTV to get the rights for hockey on saturday nights. Their Saturday night schedule on CTV could be shifted to CTV2.
As for Rogers getting HNIC it will only happen if Rogers ends up buying Shaw and getting Global as it would give Rogers a network in as meny homes as CTV. After all Citytv is tied with CTV2 for 4th and I don’t the NHL would want national games on the countrys 4th network.

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
May 30, 2012 12:06 pm

Also another key point no one is talking about that would give Bell/CTV the edge is that they co-own the NHL Network with the NHL. If the NHL wants to grow the network then giving Bell the national package with more games on the NHL network might just get the deal done.

Les Nessman
Les Nessman
May 30, 2012 12:52 pm

Funny how CTV has no room for the Grey Cup on the network they do find room for the Super Bowl and the 6 hour pregame show. I wonder if the CRTC cable substitution rule has anything to do with that?

While I could see the NHL going with the person who “writes the biggest cheque”. One thing to consider is that once CBC loses HNIC I don’t see them ever getting HNIC back. Which I think Bettman knows so while there may be 3 in the running this contract, the next time who knows how many players there will be? Don’t think down the road Bell/Rogers could become one???

Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
May 30, 2012 1:12 pm

Lol um no offense to CFL but when you pay the amount of money Bell does for the Super Bowl right’s you make room even if its for 10 hrs.

Mike V
Mike V
May 30, 2012 1:23 pm

It’s not that CTV has no room to show the Grey Cup. It’s
A) The contract with the CFL is for games on TSN, not CTV. Also, since Bell Media doesn’t own all of TSN, moving one of the premier events poses more of a challenge.
B) Bell makes more money this way. They use the game to drive up subscription rates. Give it away on OTA and you lose the leverage.
C) CTV already has successful American programming that is sim-subed on Sunday night. Moving the game to CTV will pre-empt it, losing out on the 2-3 million people who aren’t watching football. (As some have mentioned the recent re-branding of CTV2 as an overflow channel negates some of this, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t move over to watch on CTV2.)

If Cohon wants playoff games available OTA, and I’m not convinced the league sees it as a pressing issue when the game draws pretty well as it is, than they would have to take less money in the next deal than if everything was on TSN. It comes down to that trade off.

As for HNIC, Bell Media is the easy front runner and I see no reason for that to change. CBC just can’t compete with the financial strength of a private broadcaster. Whatever tradition is worth, its not an extra $25 million or more per year.

itchy butt
itchy butt
May 30, 2012 3:53 pm

The biggest upside will be the end of Coaches Corner and Ron McLean.

May 31, 2012 1:58 am

Would there be flak if HNIC was moved from a network channel to a cable channel?

There would likely be a pr brouhaha if the nffl playoffs or superbowl went to a cable channel in the us (not even mentioing ppv). I wonder if thered be a similar blowback in canada if the stanley cup final moved to TSN or Sportsnet.

July 30, 2012 1:02 am

I don’t see it leaving CBC. What I do see is some sort of partnership with another network to take some of the extra Sat games off CBC hands.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x