Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition


by mike (in boston) [hatemailaccount at g/m/a/i/l/ dot com]


The Rogers/NHL deal


This prompted a great discussion here and elsewhere earlier this week. Lots of good insights and interesting predictions in the comments section. Here are some questions with which I am left:


1. What is the relationship between national rights and respectability?

I get that visibility is a thing, but once you’re established, is that still an issue? I guess I’m just wondering how much of an impact this will have on TSN’s national credibility in hockey. Is Bob McKenzie less credible if TSN only has regional rights? Will fewer people watch their draft shows? Will fewer people tune in to their lunchtime hockey show?  I honestly don’t know.

Several people on blogs I read commented even when SN has Leafs games, they tune away  during intermission breaks. So, people will still have preferences regardless of which network is carrying the game. Does this spill over to people’s wider viewing and listening decisions? I guess we will see how this changes the ratings in the years to come.


2. How much money would have been too much to pay?

Stewart Johnston (TSN CEO) was asked on TSN Drive (11/26) if the price was too high and declined to answer, although he said “we wish Rogers well” after saying TSN came in with a bid that was “aggressive & responsible”. Not sure what that means. Presumably there was a number that was too rich for Rogers’ blood. I wonder how close to that number they came. Tom Hicks of the Texas Rangers paid A-Rod $25 million per year when the reported next highest bid was $16 million.

A related question is: will this financial commitment have an impact in other areas, like the magainze, or the radio station? We will have to wait and see, but the firings earlier this month seem related.


3. How is it in the NHL’s interests to have all its eggs in one basket?

There is a reason the NFL is on 4 networks + the NFL network. This ensures that there will be interested parties willing to bid the price up each time the contract is up for renewal. It seems  obvious that the NHL could have made more money by splitting up the package and giving some games to both Bell and Rogers, overcharging each so that the other side doesn’t get the whole pie. It also seems obvious that it is in the NHL’s interest to keep some games on a national over the air network. Lots of people still don;t have cable, and recent data suggest that more and more people are cutting the cord. This looks like short term thinking by Bettman.


4. How much will Rogers cable packages rise? 

I have no idea about this, but I’m sure people will be grumbling about it on here when it happens.


Cobb County commissioners approve Braves stadium


How can a county justify spending $300 million tax payer dollars without any public referendum? This deal was approved by the county the tuesday before Thanksgiving. Seems rotten to me. Baseball is flush with cash right now.


WGR doesn’t like the Bills in Toronto series


So much bitterness in this post. It’s understandable, but someone over there should remind them that they are claiming to be journalists not a fan-site. The fact that the Bills are still in Buffalo in 2013 with such awful on-field performance and management is a testament to their fans’ dedication. This must suck. But if they have a beef it’s with their owner, their politicians, and the other fans who weren’t coming out in sufficient numbers.


Low Hanging Fruit – Radio + Print Edition


Dear TSN – quit the pity party. It was like a funeral over there this week. Go all in on the NFL and MLB and Euro soccer. If you didn’t have a plan for this scenario then you have only yourselves to blame.


Dear Fan590 – please never have intelligent guests on with Shannon. Cyd Zeigler was on PTS on 11/20 and Shannon ruined it the way he does everything. He constantly cuts off the guest, mutters and mumbles, asks ill-formed questions. I just noticed his tendency to say “Really? Really?” after a guest starts answering. He insists he’s right about whatever dumb thing comes out of his mouth. Here’s an easy policy to follow: don’t book intelligent guests unless Brunt is on.


Dear Toronto Star – please don’t  tempt me to click on a Rosie link. If you want to make the argument that Cherry’s bigoted views don’t belong on the airwaves, I agree. I just won’t listen to the person you assign to report on the royal pregnancy make that argument. I know convergence is the present and future of media, but when you converge garbage you are still left with garbage. Hire a media reporter, or at least let Zelkovich do a one-off piece.


until next time …

mike (in boston)


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    p.s. – welcome back Ami

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    TSN lost money on the NHL paying only 40 million a season combine that with additional production cost. How on earth can rogers produce more games and pay 10 times that price and make any sort of money. Reminding others that they will be airing more games equaling more cost to the bottom line to produce. Rogers will also have to hire talent and you know TSN will do everything to keep the guys they have. The economics are scary for stock holders of the company, and if the federal government doesn’t follow through with deregulating the tv bundle system rogers are in line to struggle, with not much space to air any additional sports during nhl time. For a sport that has 10 to 12 percent national viewership makes for a hefty bill for those wishing to see games. TSN will be fine once they get their heads out of their asses and begin planning a new strategy. The company now has a lot of money to spend and little competition for rights thanks to this new NHL agreement with rogers.

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    First of all – great job Mike. This is a great post.

    I think the question of how TSN will respond to this is a really interesting one. The 5 o’clock hour of PTS was fascinating yesterday and there was some really interesting opinions on the matter.

    Blair claimed he’d been told Bell is already looking into try to move the Rays to Montreal, as a content play. (I’m sure a long shot, but how awesome would that be?)

    Perkins and Grange seemed to think the NHL deal increased the likelihood of a 2nd Toronto NHL team, with speculation that this would lead to the Bell/Rogers MLSE partnership ending – perhaps with Bell pursuing their own team.

    Add all those moving parts to the Bon Jovi/Tannenbaum Bills story, and I really think you have a fascinating time in Toronto sports.

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    I agree the deal should expedite the break-up of the bell/rogers mlse partnership. Which would logically lead to bell with the GTA team, be it expansion or one of the florida teams moving.

    When they made the new divisions, its easy to exprolate panthers and lightning becoming gta and QC city.

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    Bell would have to be certain that the NHL would give them a 2nd team in Toronto to do that though, because they’d be giving up the rights to air the Raptors and Leafs if they left MLSE, which would deprive them of more content.

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    Also, thank you for the PS Mike (In Boston)!

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    Bobby Digital 7 years ago

    After reading about the hustle and determination of Pelley, Mohammed and co. at Rogers compared to arrogance and sloth of Bell/TSN, I wonder if anyone will pay the price for a screwup of this magnitude? It sounds like twin clowns of George Cope and Kevin Crull were busy fiddling at Grey Cup as Rome burned.

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    Poker Guy 7 years ago

    ….and so it begins. Kypreos on HNIC last night. Beginning to not like this already.

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    Robert 7 years ago

    “Bell would have to be certain that the NHL would give them a 2nd team in Toronto to do that though, ”

    Also, what guaranteed would Bell have that they would have the rights to televise their own team? Doesn’t the Rogers deal give them control over all Canadian content?

    I’ve heard it repeated by Blair and others that, if their isn’t room to broadcast Blue Jays baseball in April and May because of hockey playoffs, the game could be shifted to CBC. How does that work? Is CBC now another Rogers channel? How did they obtain rights to show baseball? I can understand CBC wanting to continue with HNIC on Saturday night, but why would they want to give up their programming for Rogers? Maybe on weekends, but during prime time?

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    McCown asked Bettman what would happen if another Canadian team entered the league. Bettman said something like a certain number of games would be made available to the national package on Rogers (I believe it was 20 or 30), and the rest would be up to the team. So, if this scenario ever happened, I imagine TSN would keep as many games as they could of this 2nd team for their own regional rights.

    As for the Jays/CBC thing, I assumed the idea was that it would be a Rogers production, with Rogers personalities, and Rogers selling the ad time with CBC just airing it. Essentially being another Sportsnet channel for a few hours. That’s what they’re doing with the hockey, at least.

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    The Dome looks pretty full for the Bills game. I wonder how many tickets they legitimately sold this time around.

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    Reel E 7 years ago

    Mike, you are an intelligent guy. I have to applaud you for your writing. I can’t help but think that what you’ve been doing these last few weeks is, in essence, putting together a sports talk conversation. I may disagree with some of your opinions and observations, but that’s been driving responses here. You know that responses or postings have been sadly lacking here of late, so you’re doing a good job. (Note to TSM.The lack of comments has nothing to do with your move back from Seattle.It has everything to do with no topics to discuss.)
    Mike, your comment about TSN was way off the mark. It’s true they were down and the reason was there’s a very real chance they will lose their identity in the years to come. They’ve been Number 1 forever and their hockey presence is a big part of that. I have faith they will survive and thrive. Sportsnet has nowhere near the talent TSN has and they won’t get it overnight. They may never be as good. As for TSN picking up other properties, they already have some and will acquire more. But this is Canada and hockey is king ( it’s not Boston).
    As for Rosie DiManno, I’m not a big fan either. But she apparently agreed with you about Cherry. So you believe in a “Shoot the messenger” philosophy? I learned a long time ago that it’s better to read as many opinions as I can; it makes me smarter.I found it ironic that you don’t like Cherry’s biased views, but your Rosie bias was okay.
    In closing, have you ever been to Buffalo? Of course WGR has a beef. I’ve heard them many times berate ownership for doing what they did. If the Patriots had a similar situation with , say Montreal, would you expect WEEI to happily go with the program (I know that’s a lame comparison and a ridiculous
    scenario but it was just to get the point cross).
    Don’t get angry with this post by the way. It’s a response, and in the end, that’s what your musings are supposed to elicit.
    As for TSM, please drop the guest schedules and start writing essays on things that interest us. Maybe some opinions on SportsCenter vs Connected or sports websites. Social media presence is another area of interest.There’s a lot of things that never get discussed here that might rekindle interest.

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    FRIEDGE 7 years ago

    Your point number three couldn’t be more incorrect…Your use of the word “obvious” makes me think of The Princess Bride: “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    Do you think Bettman would really give up having multiple channels broadcasting games if it wasn’t worthwhile? This season, CBC is paying $121M, TSN $40 and French somewhere that brought the overall number to around $200M.

    By the end of this deal, Rogers will be paying 2.5 times that figure. Do you really believe the NHL is getting anywhere near that without exclusivity? Not a chance.

    There have been reports TSN offered somewhere around $4.8-$5 billion. They weren’t doing that without getting it all for themselves, too. Lacroix from CBC admitted they couldn’t compete, so that money was lost.

    (And it isn’t that TSN was so ridiculously outbid…they were outmanoeuvered by Rogers, who went to Bettman during Grey Cup week and put a deadline on the offer.)

    Man, you rip radio hosts for dumb statements…that is right up there. 20 years and three lockouts later, haven’t we learned that all Bettman cares about is making the most money?

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    Nan Young Lee 7 years ago

    James Duthie ‏@tsnjamesduthie 29 Nov
    Looking forward to speaking to Carleton Journalism students tonight. Could use also use a Psych major or two after this week if avail.

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    that’s a fair criticism FRIEDGE. I could have worded that better.

    Here’s what I was thinking. The NHL made Rogers pay through the roof for exclusivity. Good for the NHL. But in exchange Rogers got a 12 year deal. This is not the only cost. In addition, the NHL effectively killed a 40 year relationship with CBC Sports – a national channel with deep roots in people’s viewing habits. Lastly, they locked in at a time when the value of sports content is going up at a rapid rate.

    It’s my opinion that a safer, smarter, and more forward-looking deal could have made both side pay so that neither side has exclusive rights, and made rights come up again in 5-7 years. The league is likely to have 1 or 2 more Canadian teams by that time, and rights fees would have risen as a result. I have no way of knowing what the value of an inclusive deal would have been, but I think there is some reason to think there is more value there.

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    Bruce Arthur has a poetic description of the woeful Bills performance at the Dome yesterday. Interestingly, the attendance he cites is 39,000. This is the lowest number yet.

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    Steve 7 years ago

    Just what the world needs, more of the SN panel. Millard fumbles around. McLean natters on and cuts people off. Kypreos continues to show his utter disdain for Millard. And in the mean time not a salient point gets made. Comparing this mess to the panel at TSN is like comparing boys to men. I shall miss Duthie and crew while I channel surf between periods.

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    I was at the game last year, a buddy is a Seahawks fan and wanted to go, but at $130.00 a ticket, it was a one-off and watching 2-9 play 3-6 for top dollar was a no go. We even got a phone from “Bills In Toronto” to ask if we wanted “tickets like we had last year”, but for only $95 this year…pass…

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    Steve 7 years ago

    TSN may have bid more than Rogers. Bettman alluded to this in the interview with Bobcat the day the deal was announced.

    The fact that Rogers already has local rights to 5 of the 7 Canadian teams ( all but the Jets and Habs ) may have swung the deal to Rogers. Had TSN won, it would created too many thorny problems co-ordinating with Rogers’ 5 local deals.

    Sportsnet will broadcast 5 HNIC games ( 3 Cdn & 3 U.S. ) in the prime-time Saturday night slot vs the 1 we get now. I’m all for it. We’ll see if SN commits to better production values and better talent.

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    For the people with strong opinions about Mike Wilner, did anybody hear him on the Blue Jays This Week podcast today about the signing of Dioner Navarro? Suddenly, he’s a proponent of team chemistry and the impact of a catcher the pitching staff would feel comfortable with after spending all last year telling callers that that stuff didn’t matter. Ben Ennis even seemed shocked by this and dismissed it as “hocus pocus” but Wilner insisted it was real.

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    Strange! Can’t argue its for homer reasons though I guess… I’ll check the podcast out.

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    Wilner is a dildo.

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    Steve 7 years ago

    Re: Mike In Boston

    I agree that your idea would have merit. However – as Pelley described the deal: ‘..a partnership to grow the game, not just a rights deal.’ A partnership has more value to both Rogers & the NHL. All sports are in a bull market because of their ‘live’ factor & the value to advertisers. Nobody knows how long that bull will charge. But in the hands of one broadcaster, the NHL has the greatest chance to really grow the game. In the short term, regarding the value of rights, your model may be better. But after 12 years? Especially with the NHL so close to overtaking the NBA in revenue which is truly unbelievable.

    NHL rights in a country 1/10th the market of the U.S. with rights costing 50% more? Like a Poker game, Sportsnet is ALL in with the NHL and will live or die by its NHL ratings so you can bet they will push and push and push that product more than 2 or 3 separate networks. At the end of 12 years the gamble for the NHL is that the game will be so big with increased coverage under one flag that rights will be worth far more than parcelling out rights here and there.

    5 HNIC games in prime time on Saturday night available to EVERYBODY is a seismic change in Canadian hockey coverage. I don’t think that kind of exposure would have happened under your proposal. That said, the existing deal vs your proposal is equally risky. I’m not saying yours is bad, just saying that given a choice between the two – the potential rewards outweigh the risks which ended up in the hand-shake between Gary & Nadir last Monday.

    We’ll see. But it will be fun.

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    Nan Young Lee 7 years ago

    NHL probably won’t overtake the NBA in revenue:

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    Nan Young Lee 7 years ago

    Interesting article on local NHL deals. Leafs currently get $40 million a year, Montreal’s next deal could mean $60 million a year for the Habs:

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    Here is my favourite (?) moment from John “Baseball Expert” Shannon co-hosting PTS on November 21 :

    Shannon (confidently): “Rob Manfred is the head of the MLB players association”

    Long pause

    McCown (listening to someone talk in his ear): “Uh, no………..Rob Manfred is the Chief Operating Officer of MLB”

    Long pause

    Shannon (sheepishly): “Uh, OK………….my apologies”

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    Sam in Scarb 7 years ago

    Two bodies whom opinions any anything sports should not be taken with any relevance, john shannon and cam stewart oddly, both on the Robbers payroll .

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    good link on the NBA deal Nan.

    really interesting post Steve. Here are some follow up thoughts:

    – does the NHL really need to be grown in Canada? I could see this argument if we were talking about the NBA.

    – As a consumer, I would much prefer that there be a separation rather than a partnership between the media and sports leagues. The cynical part in me thinks that the NHL wants a “partner” so they can have more control over how the NHL is covered by the media. We’ve seen this kind of influence already with ESPN backing out of the concussion documentary after pressure from the NFL. Bettman has been a well-deserved punching bag for the media for what seems like an eternity. Yet, all if took was $5 billion dollars and McCown was willing play nice with Bettman. It will be interesting to see if Bettman shows up on SN/PTS more often now.

    Mike S — hilarious … and pathetic. I would give anything to see the compromising pictures than Shannon must have of McCown. It’s the only explanation for his presence on PTS.

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    Steve in Waterloo 7 years ago

    One Rogers announced the deal, the presence of Shannon was explained. His expertise is in the production side of the game of hockey.

    Now he can take over the production of the National rights holder.

    Why else would they have kept the man on the air?

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    Great read MIB, it’s so nice clicking on this site and actually reading stuff that’s thought provoking, keep up the outstanding work, do you write or blog anywhere else?

    SIW, I can only pray you’re wrong.