Is Sports Media Content Going In-House? Whats New In Vancouver? Damien Cox had a great column on the current state of sports media

<span class="entry-title-primary">Is Sports Media Content Going In-House? Whats New In Vancouver?</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">Damien Cox had a great column on the current state of sports media</span>

By TSM

Happy Weekend!

I was hoping to get this written before embarking on the coast to coast flight, however as the old adage goes, man plans and God laughs. So, I am writing this from 35,000 feet somewhere east of Vancouver but west of Toronto.

Lots to talk about so, here we go:

I didn’t see much written about it or mentioned publically anywhere but Damien Cox had a VERY interesting article in the Toronto Star about all things Las Vegas Golden Knights. Damien’s main thesis was that GM GM needs to grow his new toy properly and resist the temptation in the expansion draft to be a competitor early at the cost of building a strong foundation.

While they may or not be of interest to you directly, this quote from the article certainly grabbed my attention and based on the feedback I received directly it caused a lot of pause in the industry, especially in the USA:

“The hockey media industry has changed significantly in the past five years, with the league (NHL.com) and teams now controlling a significant slice of the reports and commentary about major NHL events. Vegas has hired a seasoned Canadian journalist to spearhead the production of information and stories the Golden Knights want to generate for the Vegas community and beyond. The Dallas Stars have, too.”

Damien continues:

“All this comes while hockey media jobs across the continent are drying up, with many unemployed journalists going to work for NHL.com. What that means is less independent reporting, many fewer critical pieces, and more public relations-style information packaged to look like journalism. The growth of an intriguing online sports media organization — The Athletic — in Chicago, Toronto and now Detroit is the only noteworthy increase in independent reporting and subscription-based journalism.

That’s all a bit depressing, but it’s reality. Factor it into what you read, hear and see. Factor it into reports this week about the new Vegas franchise.”

One thing that’s been said almost exclusively, save for the words of Dean Blundell, about Rogers and TSN for that matter, is that the powers that be at both outlets leave their employees alone when it comes to criticism of the “owned” teams.

While many of us do believe that our outlets have their homers on staff (“get out ball!”), I don’t think there is a general concern of ownership influence on content. Don’t get me wrong, Sportsnet especially is guilty of click bait and has on too many occasions had stories written that were done strictly with the idea of generating an audience. That, however, is much different than what Damien is writing about here.

With the obliteration of the traditional sports media, outlets are we driving towards leagues and teams owning the voice?

Many insiders who reached out to me this week believe that’s inevitable.
Would Rick Westhead’s investigative articles on concussions or lawsuits involving junior players get written if he wrote for NHL.com, for example?

The leagues and teams are the only ones in sports these days who have the audience (in some cases even that is diminishing, but compared to traditional outlets leagues/teams ae winning the share of audience battle). In the cord cutting world where clicks and eyeballs are gold, clearly, the ESPN’s, newspapers and the Yahoo’s are flailing.

Just this week Bell slashed yet another market’s sports reporters completely. Yes, this is just another sign of the media apocalypse. Have you been watching what’s been going on at Yahoo Canada, Yahoo Sports and ESPN in general?

What, pres tel happens to the traditional insider (not from a trade and transaction standpoint but from real investigative journalism) when the keyboard is owned by those who’d rather not have the story ever written?

This is a very slippery slope indeed. Kudos to Damien for calling it out. This is happening in real time and it’s going to be happening more and more over the next couple of months. The outgoing head of the CRTC recently pronounced print dead.

While this in of itself isn’t news to anyone who follows this site, the fact that the head of a governmental agency focused on media announced it IS news.

My point is not to re-hash this, again and again, however, the National Post just fully exorcised its Monday print edition. The other 5 days should go the same way and the outlet should go digital only and compete with the likes of the Huffington Post.

With the Sun and Star in despair of varying magnitudes can their fate be far behind? In five years would anyone be surprised if only the Globe and Mail were distributing a print edition in Canada?

While we all hope that those who have lost their jobs recently are re-employed soon, should we be concerned about who owns the voice of those willing to re-employ them? I think Damien is right for recognizing this and it’s something we all should watch, carefully.

Speaking of modern outlets, remember for years how I’ve been daring the NHL to buy Twitter? Well, it seems that others, way smarter than I agree that is someone in the world of media, news or sports that should purchase Twitter.
Richard Greenfield had this response to the question of what may happen with Twitter in the coming months:

I think anybody who is in news, sports and information. I mean, we were looking at the TV before this started and you think about all the world politics and news and information, sport. I mean, clearly, sports talk radio plays out on Twitter every single day.

If you’re a sports fan, you’re following the beat reporters, you’re part of that discussion. So I think it’s companies that are highly vested in news and information, so whether that’s Disney, maybe it’s Comcast with NBC, maybe that’s AT&T, DirecTV, CNN, the whole complex.

Can you imagine if Twitter were to go MySpace on us and disappear? It has become an integral way for news and sports especially, to be delivered these days. Someone smart who is trying to either establish, grow or at the very least maintain relevance should buy Twitter. The rest of the Greenfield piece on Twitter and why he is bullish on it can be read here.

Still, on the topic of controlling the voice, I wonder why John Shannon felt compelled to write his most recent story on the possibility of Seattle joining the NHL:

It would appear, on this topic, he’s making it seem like he has something going with the NHL and he doesn’t; the expansion process is over, and at this point, there is nothing to suggest a new expansion window will open soon.
Adding high profile names like David Bonderman (a minority owner of the Boston Celtics) and Bonderman’s friend, movie mogul Jerry Bruckheimer (a hockey die-hard who kicked tires in Las Vegas 10 years ago) to the project, just fuelled the perception that hockey was a sure thing.

As someone who admittedly hopes that the league does come to Seattle, I found it interesting. To the general Sportsnet audience I can only imagine it’s a complete yawn. So…. Why write the article in the first place? Was it again, a piece of click bait or was there a greater purpose behind it?

Industry insiders wonder if it was an attempt for Shannon to get/remain in the Bettman good books. The most interesting theory I received from those in the know was that it was little more than Shannon continuing to try to grow his profile in the hopes of landing a role with the yet to launch Vancouver Sports Radio outlet for Rogers.

With all due respect to the BC Lions, Vancouver is a one trick pony. It’s Canucks hockey all the time. Yes, there are fans of the other sports, but with no home team in any other league, it’s primarily a hockey market. A new NHL team in Seattle would be a huge boost to Vancouver and a presence in the market who can speak intelligently about the business side of sports who understands the landscape would be appealing. At least the theory goes.

Anyone else notice Shannon has been on his cell phone a LOT on the air these days (see the above image)?

Speaking of Vancouver radio, lots going on as they head to a rumored Labour Day launch for the new Rogers all sports radio station.

First, as we told you first on Twitter they have hired a Program Director for the new station. Craig Macewen is now in the role:

First hired as a reporter in 2000, he was named Pacific bureau chief in 2004. After ten years in the role, which also saw him also working as a TV play-by-play man for Whitecaps telecasts as well other work as a reporter, MacEwen was let go in August 2014, the same day as Don Taylor, who had previously hosted Sportsnet Central’s Vancouver-based nightly edition while also being a drivetime host for TSN 1040. Taylor remains at TSN radio.Since Nov. 2016, MacEwen’s been director of marketing and communications for Volleyball B.C.

Perhaps I am the only one who thinks it a tad odd, but in the Rogers radio org, Macewen, I am told is reporting to current Fan 590 PD Dave Cadeau. At least for now. The only reason I thought it odd is that from all accounts there is a very strong desire to not have the station look or feel anything like the Fan Toronto. I don’t know, but if I was trying to be UN-Toronto I don’t think I’d involved the Toronto PD in my programming decisions.

Numerous bird dogs saw the FAN PD roaming the halls and streets of Vancouver recently as they attempt to hire up the new station.

Question for you, is Hockey Central at noon un-Toronto enough to be a national show or do they need their own version?

If you say it’s a national hockey show (and I do, BTW) then the question is do you air it at 9 am PST when it’s airing live OR are you tape delaying it at usual 12 pm slot?

Similarly, if McCown refers to the “network hour” of Prime Time Sports are you going to run that hour of radio in Vancouver too? If so, same question, live or tape delayed?

Back on the talent side, the rumors are aplenty:

I’ve written this too many times, but I will say it again, I’m hiring Andrew Walker to host mornings in Vancouver if run the station. It’s getting him out of the dead spot he’s currently in and puts him in an ideal slot in Vancouver at a meaningful time. To entice him, give him access to Cable Box 1 (Rogers corporate jet) to go see the Blue Jays whenever and wherever he wants.

Apparently, I am not the only one hearing these rumours:

Latest buzz rumour has Sportsnet’s Andrew Walker coming to Vancouver, possibly to anchor a morning show.

Walker was tied to Vancouver sports radio in another go around, before ending up in Toronto, where he kind of looks stuck in that 1-4 time slot.

If this is true, they’re not getting Walker to Van on the cheap.

Word is Sportsnet is getting ready to spend, and invest.

They seem to believe the sports radio market has 120,000 listeners and rather than trying to expand that (there’s a huge number of younger listeners who feel left out), they’re hoping to dominate it

And that’s not all…

There’s been at least one defection from the TSN radio side. Satiar Shah is said to have defected from Bell to greener pastures on Rogers radio. I haven’t seen anything official but this recently ran:

Satiar Shah, the producer for TSN 1040’s Bro Jake Show, has left the station and is heading to Sportsnet 650, which is slated to start up in time for the hockey season.

Who else you ask?

Well I am told that Rogers made a very hard play for long time sports personality Matthew Sekeres and David Pratt but they were unsuccessful. A partial list under consideration for roles include:

Jody Vance
James Cybulski
David Pratt
Brad Fay
Tom Plasteris(PD role)
John Shannon
Andrew Walker
Craig MacEwan
Rob Fai
Matthew Sekeres
Scott Rintoul
Perry Solkowski
Mike Whittingham(was in on PD role)
Don Taylor
Satiar Shah

Finally, with the NHL Expansion Draft, new jersey launch and Entry Draft behind us and Free Agency just ahead of us are you going to be buying any new jerseys? A friend at IceJerseys.com wants to know which jersey you are buying and why? PSA, they have em all and great customer service too!

Happy rest of the weekend!

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 25
  • comment-avatar
    Roy 3 months

    “While many of us do believe that our outlets have their homers on staff (“get out ball!”), ”

    Really? If I want impartial broadcasts, I’ll watch the news. When I watch my sports team, I want the PBP to be somewhat rooting for my team. Buck and Joe Bowen (Joe should be doing the Telecasts), make watching Toronto Teams much more fun. Adds to the ebb and flow of emotions, whilst viewing.
    Print and Sports Talk Radio are different animals.

  • comment-avatar
    TorontoBrent 3 months

    Wonderful piece as always!

    Although I’m not a huge fan, Walker is talented and being wasted in his current slot. He deserves better.

    Scotty Mac has really grown on me. I listen almost daily to his show now and I’m quite liking it.

    Overdrive is spectacular. I have always listened because I think my demographic relates to them far more than Bob and Cox and whatever other geriatrics he has on. That said, Overdrive has really stepped it up recently. Their daily segment with Ferraro is the best segment on sports radio in Canada. Period.

    I also like how they’re seemingly getting better guests to discuss non-hockey related topics. My buddies down here who have zero ties to Toronto will listen to their podcasts simply for segments like Gerry’s percentages or Future Headlines.

    I know ratings aren’t great but judging from those I tak to in my social group, we all love Overdrive without exception.

    Again thanks for the work you do on this site. It’s a must-read for me every weekend.

  • comment-avatar
    Paul G. 3 months

    The Montreal layoffs are an eye opener. Makes me wonder if Toronto is next?

    The Toronto noon newscast already “throws” to the TSN guys for sports content. How long until the Bell bean counters decide to do the same for the 6 & 11:30 pm shows?

  • comment-avatar
    yaz 3 months

    Walker would be daft to leave the largest market in Canada for a one horse town. Sure, he’s mired in the 1-4 slot after the Blundell debacle but he’s here, in Canada’s largest market, building his name commenting on 3/4 major sports while mixing with all the top media in the country both on and off-air. Toronto is it. Vancouver just doesn’t have the same energy. It’d be a backwards step for him. But if they offer to triple his salary? Tough to say no.

    With Naylor & Landsberg drawing ratings less than a test of the radio alert system, you’d think 1050 would lure Walker over there. But I think 1050’s budget has been slashed dramatically. More likely to broadcast two more hours of the Danettes yakking about college football. Plenty of Matthews’ Calder trophy and NHL draft chatter over on the Dan Patrick show this week. Very informative.

    And hey, anyone else here honestly believe a 60 year old man with a history of anxiety chases a Xanax with a shot of Five Hour Energy at 6 am? I guess that drink doesn’t work at 530 am.

  • comment-avatar
    Mario 3 months

    Should be very interesting with the Vancouver all sports radio station , Walker if he goes for the right money would be a bonus for the start up station. Lots of decisions with the time difference on how the handle it with PTS and hockey centeral. Lots of changes and moving hosts and co hosts on both stations.

  • comment-avatar
    Bora 3 months

    The sooner Shannon leaves the better. I can’t stand his role as official NHL mouthpiece and Bettman’s butt kisser. It’s also very annoying with him looking at his cellphone every few minutes yet never breaking any interesting news. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was nothing there and he’s just doing it to look important.

  • comment-avatar
    Mike V 3 months

    Why would Rogers not be able to get Walker to relocate to Van on the cheap exactly? Does his contract have a no movement clause?

    It’s been fairly obvious to me since Brady left his side that Walker can’t carry a show on his own. His ratings have declined and frankly are atrocious compared to the rest of 590 in the same period . If he doesn’t go to Vancouver (assuming it’s offered), it’s probably close to 50/50 he’s still on the 590 air in 12-18 months. Better to take the lifeboat and try to reinvent yourself in a different market; one that’ll also be more patient being a new station.

  • comment-avatar
    NorthYorkCanuck 3 months

    I don’t understand why Walker would want to go to Vancouver. I’m from there. As you say, it’s all Canucks. During hockey season, over half of the programming is devoted to them, and you also have to do local (Whitecaps, Lions). I’m quite certain Walker (who I think sounds like Oilers fan?) has no interest in any of those.

    And what does it mean that he’s “stuck” in the midday slot? He doesn’t have the drive slot in one of the biggest cities in North America, but in today’s media climate, he has to feel like he has a pretty good gig. And is he for sure not being considered for post-McCown drivetime?

  • comment-avatar
    Cec Norman 3 months

    I think Damian raises some good points and kudos to him for expressing them. However, when Rogers won control of NHL hockey in Canada for 12 years it could be argued that they (and the NHL) control the message too and are part of the problem. Do not recall Damian or any other of the Rogers personnel raising red flags at that time.

  • comment-avatar
    Jason 3 months

    Walker is terrible. The show has devolved into an unseemly and unfunny man show contest with Ben Ennis, who was once promising and now has to deflect all kinds of juvenile “me against you” bravado. Cringeworthy radio.
    Walker is a bad fit in Toronto, just does not connect other than the “I went to way more ballgames than you so I know what I am talking about”.

  • comment-avatar
    Original Mitch 3 months

    I have to agree with some here, the 1-4 time slot on the Fan in Toronto is amazing compared to any other slot any other city in this country. Don’t tell me that mornings in Vancouver is better. BS.
    I am no fan of Walker and realize he isn’t very good and that unless its family related, he should never, ever leave this current opportunity of his. I suspect he knows it as well. This guy has little to no dignifying talent (i.e. sounds like every other western born radio broadcaster around) and yet finds himself in that time slot in that city? He should (and probably does) kiss the Rogers building ground every time he walks in and prays every time to the ghost of Ted thanking him. Now, if you told me this was a Rogers initiative because in fact he isn’t very good and doesn’t belong in a major market and should be dismissed to Vancouver, then I would get it. But the idea that Walker holds any leverage at that company is downright laughable. If he left tomorrow, would anybody even know it?

    Its a good time slot.

  • comment-avatar
    ImranK 3 months

    Original Mitch and Jason sound about right. No way Walker has leverage and come on, this is not a talented broadcaster, let’s have some respect for the position.

  • comment-avatar
    Daniel 3 months

    I’ve grown to like Walker and Ennis in the afternoons. It’s not ‘must listen’ for me, but they have fun and keep it entertaining.

    Now that Sportsnet has a mini network between Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, I think they could easily run the 6 o’clock hour of PTS and Hockey Central nationally. I’d still like them to bring Tim and Sid back on the radio, and I think that would work nationally too, but that’s probably a pipe dream.

    I wouldn’t mind if they did some national late night/weekend programming as well. Would be preferable to CBS radio.

  • comment-avatar
    Daniel 3 months

    Yeah I also find it odd how this blog (no offense TSM) and others sometimes makes it seem like 1-4 is some kind of graveyard shift. I mean, for one thing, a lot of drive home shows are from 2-6, so there’s clearly an audience there. Plus when Kollins came to The Fan he moved PTS to 3-6, with the explanation (IIRC) that more people were listening from 3-4 than 6-7, so it made sense to move Bob earlier.

  • comment-avatar

    Personally I hope Walker and Enis do move to Vancouver. Take Brady and Price there too.

  • comment-avatar
    Island Chris 3 months

    Never want to see people lose their gig but I’m not that torn up about sportscasters being cut from local news. The last time there was a local sports guy who I really wanted to watch was that funny guy who used to do the highlights on City TV Toronto back in the 90’s… Remember him?? He used to fill in on Roger Rick & Marilyn when Rick Hodge went on vacation. I’m sorry, I’m digressing.

    The rare times that I’ve ever watched a sportscast during the local news it’s only ever inspired me to open the TSN or Sportsnet apps on my phone. So it makes perfect sense to me that CTV would use local newscasts as a vessel to further push the TSN brand.

  • comment-avatar
    Hans 3 months

    I also add that folks tend to forget that Tim & Sid were a 1-4 show on the fan and yet they managed to do well with it.

    Maybe I’m reading into it but by the way it was worded here it seems many of the “industry insiders” don’t think too highly of John Shannon either like most folks here. If that is so then the question has to be asked: who does like the guy?

    Oh, and doesn’t Bob have a “no cell rule” on PTS or does the fact that Shannon lights Bettman’s cigars mean he get around it? If he wants to go and play the big fish role in Vancouver then let him go. Better there than here and maybe we don’t have to see him on every single thing on Sportsnet because for some reason John Shannon has to be on everything, even when it’s non-hockey related.

  • comment-avatar
    McIvor 3 months

    Anyone else amused by Cox advocating for more women to be in the HHoF considering the company he works for and the fact that he co-hosts for a dude that doesn’t like women’s hockey because he can’t see what their bodies look like?

    Think he has EVER told 590 or Sportsnet that they should hire more women to talk about sports? LOL NO

  • comment-avatar
    Blake 3 months

    Please take Shannon away. What credentials does this guy have?…LeafsTV? Producer?…So what. I can’t stand ‘personalities’ with no insight who simply read current headlines of sports stories and try to debate or pretend to have anything insightful to say. Listening to Shannon is like listening to your 85 year old Grandpa talk sports. Please go away. No, we don’t want to hear your awkward annoying laugh as you interview Scotty Bowman or Bob Nicholson in the middle of July.

    Drives me crazy this guy in on Hockey Central and on with McCown EVERY SINGLE DAY.

  • comment-avatar
    Paul G. 3 months

    @ Blake…Amen!

    I check out the first hour (Tues.-Thurs.) only to usually (unless a special guest is scheduled) move on to something else; as he has become the default 4-5 co-host. One day this week I returned at 5 only to discover that he was booked for the full three hours. No PTS for me that day!

    Unless a segment is about the actual business/operational side of a sports broadcasting issue, he has nothing to contribute.

  • comment-avatar
    Sperk 3 months

    A little off topic but I had the “pleasure” of catching 5 minutes Tim & Sid on Wednesday and Arash Madani and Ken Reid were subbing in as hosts. Wow, talk about two fish out of water…they were both forcing hot takes and trying to be funny (ala Tim & Sid) and were failing miserably at it. Reid is clueless and Madani is good but hot takes and comedy aren’t his thing. I wonder about the logic of forcing co-hosts into the style of Tim & Sid when they are not there…shouldn’t they have picked people more suited to that (Brady, Walker etc.) or let Arash be Arash? Ken shouldn’t be on there regardless of the situation.

  • comment-avatar
    Curt 3 months

    Shannon is a show destroyer. I get the feeling that he wasn’t listened to much as a kid. It’s not enough that he has to talk over everybody in his obnoxious, nasally voice, but he has to repeat every silly point he makes. Please go away.

  • comment-avatar
    Cirroc 3 months

    TSN should send Petrillo out west somewhere, Leafs Lunch has become unlistenable with her hosting.

  • comment-avatar

    Might get delayed by the Muslim ban but should have a column up today on sports media poverty, the ethics of citation, + lots of bad twitter

  • comment-avatar
    Big G 3 months

    Mike

    it’s not a Muslim ban it’s a travel ban, the media referring to it as a Muslim ban is simply race baiting. There are people that have been affected that are not Muslim.