A scribe texted me late last week :
“Are you hearing anything more about layoffs at SN?”
“No”, I replied, as I really had not heard anything.
To be honest, after the last round of axe swinging by the Canadian media companies I hadn’t heard or even thought of inquiring about more layoffs.
So you can imagine my surprise this morning when my phone started buzzing out of control with multiple sources telling me that indeed the ghost of layoffs past was back in Canada.
Yes, sports fans, Rogers has once again cut heads. On the talent side:
Just wanted to say thanks … so, thanks! Will take a few days to figure out what’s next. In the meantime, this …https://t.co/jpohOzUYMn
— Hugh Burrill (@SNhughburrill) March 9, 2016
Jamie Thomas and James Cybulski were all let go.
At the same time, Caroline Cameron, Cybulski’s on air partner will be moving back to Toronto to resume her SN duties.
Behind the camera, a disaster. SN has pretty much eliminated the Vancouver office. I don’t have the names of all those who were let go but I am told it’s too many. Producers, editors etc all out of jobs.
Why have we arrived where we are?
It’s a topic for a much broader piece I am working on, but for now let’s look at a few facts.
By no fault of their own, since Rogers took over the NHL broadcasts the ratings have plummeted. Everyone looked at last year as a one year thing but things are looking worse this year and with all 7 Canadian teams likely on the outside of the playoff picture it’s hard to imagine things improving any time soon.
So with a massive investment in hockey and ratings in the toilet what’s a network to do?
Couple that with substantial leadership changes at Rogers, literally from the top on down and well, here we are.
Lastly, audience viewing habits have changed and continue to change casting a further cloud on the future prospects. It’s hard to imagine that many at Sportsnet will be sleeping comfortably over the next couple of months.
How bad is it?
Well consider that Calgary Flames games dipped to sub 100k household numbers I’m told. The Vancouver Canucks are in the 300k and under range. Toronto? The numbers are beyond weak. Leafs vs. Minnesota brought in 379k, that’s not a good sign.
HNIC? Well the first games should be around 2 million. Now? barely hitting the 1 million mark.
Again, I don’t think this has much to do with Sportsnet or the product they are creating.
The buds on TSN last week pulled in around 500k.
I tweeted how brutal the trade deadline numbers were last week, the lower of the 2 stations pulled in 79k.
Here’s my conclusion, Bettman Inc. has been solely focused on the health of and potential to grow the game in the USA that the audience has started to fizzle in Canada. They’ve taken their eye off the puck.
With all seven Canadian teams in rebuild mode the future is bleak.
It’s why I disagree with Gary Lawless’s comment that the NHL needs this year’s touted first overall pick to land in AZ and not in Toronto.
The league had better hope that some of the Canadian markets improve and fast. The best bet here is for the Leafs to land the top overall pick and therefore for Austin Matthews to land in Toronto. Markets like AZ are what they are. The sport needs a healthy audience in Toronto.
Here in Toronto you can barely give tickets away, let alone sell them for face value. There is next to no demand for tickets and while the ACC is sold out for the games the stadium is far from full on any given night.
What am I hearing? I hear that the debate between Rogers and the league have gotten interesting as it relates to Rogers obligations this coming playoff season. With no playoff teams from Canada, Rogers would like to keep costs to a minimum. The league as you can imagine, I am told is having none of that. Costs are clearly being managed at Ted’s house and as always is the case the worker bees are ones to suffer. I can’t imagine what happens should the Blue Jays fall out of the gate and the avg attendance at the Dome returns to the 15-20k per game range.
It’s almost radio ratings time. While it is not the Spring book it’s the next big book to arrive and well I think for those who’ve held their jobs it could be a watermark grade.
I’m told that Tim and Sid’s TV numbers are awful. I don’t get it because the show is what the show is. It’s not new, it’s their old schtick and people seem to love that before. Why it’s flailing now I don’t get. I’ll be honest, I don’t watch it mainly because I am not near a tv when it’s on.
Bryan Hayes has been away from Overdrive and the show has suffered. TSN needs some bench strength.
Bell is looking to fill the Jonas Leafs beat guy role. Why? Tony Ambrogio is around and more than capable.
Hmmmmmm, words to keep in mind in the world of sports media in this town, something old something new something borrowed something blue.
Speaking of blue, did you hear the one about the new MLSE boss? Yeah, no one has. Not a word has been said.
Naylor and Landsberg is the name of the show. Sounds a lot more like Landsberg featuring Naylor, amongst others to me.
It’s time to rename Mike and Mike over at the world wide leader; how about The NFL daily morning show. We talk only hockey in this country, Mike and Mike? All NFL, all the time. I don’t mind it but it’s interesting to see where things have gone. Too bad no one talks NBA, I hear there’s some interesting things going on.
Funniest story I’ve heard from an MSM since we started this website I heard this week: long time MSMer made their debut on radio a little while back. A few weeks in to the show, the MSMer got called into the principals office for a review.
“Why don’t you do more of this, and less of that? Have you thought about this or that”
The grilling went.
The MSMer walked out quite stunned. Not because of the harsh comments.
“The comments were almost verbatim from your website (written and comments)” I was told this week!