Developing: Changes At Top of Rogers Sportsnet

by TSM: Multiple sources tell me this morning that Scott Moore will be leaving Rogers Sportsnet at the end of October. Moore is the President of Sportsnet & NHL at Rogers Media Inc. More details as they come …

 

Quick Updates

 

Rick Brace (ex-Bell, current Rogers Media president) takes over on an interim basis. From the press release:

 

“After leading Sportsnet to No. 1 as the top sports media brand in the country, Scott leaves behind a strong legacy.” – Rick Brace

 

Moore has issued a statement via twitter:

 

 

David Shoalts of The Globe & Mail just wrote a book about the big Rogers NHL rights deal. He is the closest thing we have to a sports media columnist at any of the major outlets. He is tweeting up a storm right now:

 

 

Some Sportsnet folks have chimed in, including Arash Madani, whose career has blossomed under Moore:

 

https://twitter.com/RealKyper/status/1047481287013892096

 

We will update as new information comes in.

 

Reactions

 

Mike: The ratings were down in the first two years of the HNIC deal and that cost the company a lot of money due to promises made to advertisers projecting a 20% boost in viewers. Lots of people also lost their jobs. (Last summer Moore told the Globe that he expected a “40 to 50 per cent” increase in ad rates in 2018.)

 

Many of the big changes ushered in to HNIC for 2014 have been undone or changed again. With the start of hockey coming this week it’s very hard not to connect the timing of this departure with those facts. Here are some representative tweets from 2016 when the first wave of course changes were made.

 

 

Another interesting thing to watch is whether there will be a change in philosophy with a new Sportsnet president. Recall how Moore decided to describe the network’s coverage of the NHL:

 

“We’re taking what I call a ‘Stars First’ editorial philosophy. Talk less about the business of the game, and more about great stars and great storytelling. […] I tell our editorial team that we’re partners with the league. Not cheerleaders, but partners. For the last number of years, particularly in Canada, the business of hockey took center stage. Now we have a long runway of labor peace in the league. Far less franchise issues. The game is in good shape, the balance of the game is terrific, the game on the ice looks great. I don’t think dedicating a segment every Saturday to talk about business is something that the fans want to here. We did consumer research: they’re tired of it. They want to talk about the breakout and the penalty kill and the power play, and why Alexander Ovechkin hasn’t won a Stanley Cup yet.” – Scott Moore

 

As I wrote recently re: the memo on Jays coverage, Moore has had plenty of opportunities to frame the discourse around Sportsnet’s journalistic strategy. He often talked up the relationship with league partners rather than leading with the need for trust with the audience.

 

Another thing to note is that there is a lot of equivocation around the battle between TSN and SN. Many press releases boast about being “#1 brand” but this is essentially a made-up metric that combines some meaningful measurables and some fake ones. For example, both networks talk about the number of retweets or minutes of video watched online. That doesn’t count for anything objective.

 

The only places we know there is genuine data that leads to advertising dollars are TV and to a much lesser extent radio. SN beat TSN on TV in years when the Jays were in the playoffs. We can slice that into Quarters and argue about it in more detail. But the reality is that the HNIC deal has not brought the ratings windfall expected … yet. It will be very interesting to see if the renewed interest in the Leafs is a tide that lifts all boats, or if this firmly establishes SN as the #1 cable brand.

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