Sportsnet Prepares for Massive Layoffs

Sportsnet Prepares for Massive Layoffs

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail

 

Updated from earlier to reflect public statements by Sportsnet, McCown, and others.

 

Bob McCown Removed from Prime Time Sports

 

 

Sources have confirmed to TSM that Sportsnet is preparing to make significant cuts to their on-air staff as the network tries to cut costs in the face of disappointing revenue. This comes at a time when the Globe is reporting that advertising revenue for the Raptors and the NBA playoffs was up about 350 per cent this year on Sportsnet compared with last year.

 

There is a list of possible names from all platforms circulating but we have decided not to publish it here until the changes are announced or confirmed by the parties themselves. The only name we will confirm at this time is Bob McCown. The current reports are that today – Thursday June 20th 2019 Friday June 21st 2019 – will be the final show with McCown at the microphone.

 

In a confounding decision, Sportsnet.ca posted a Canadian Press story instead of a press release. The Toronto Sun did not do any original reporting on this story yet somehow managed to screw up transcribing a tweet

 

 

CBC and the Globe ran versions of the CP story while The Star assigned it to their general staff desk. Yahoo Canada Sports mistakenly referred to Bob as 57 years old and also mentioned Bob’s tweet “ensuring us” that we have not heard the last from him.

 

 

The news that Sportsnet is moving on from Bob McCown is a little surprising given that he was recently renewed with much fanfare.

 

 

In that piece Dave Cadeau, National Format Director for Sports Radio at Rogers Media, states:

 

“Bob is the most prominent and revered sports talk radio host in the country for good reason. He’s the single best interviewer in the industry. He elicits the most interesting responses from his guests and guides conversations in a way that is relevant to his audience. These are unique abilities and he has mastered them.”

 

The press release also boasts about Prime Time Sports being the most listened-to sports talk radio program in the country “by a wide margin for average minute audience for males (12+), average minute audience for males 25-54 and share of audience for males 25-54.”

 

The natural question to ask is why Sportsnet would be moving on from someone with such unique talents who delivers such impressive numbers. The proof is plainly in the pudding. Bob’s numbers have been slipping consistently. As we wrote in March of this year, TSN1050’s Overdrive has been making impressive gains against PTS. The broader picture is that radio revenues are declining as podcasting takes over.

 

Additionally, while McCown’s talent for interviewing is undeniable, he has not been able to sustain enough interest in his subjects to fill 15 hours a week. When Bob is uninformed or unmotivated the show suffers tremendously. The expensive additions of Richard Deitsch and Stephen Brunt have shored up some of these deficiencies. However with the Jays toiling away at a rebuild Bob is simply out of his depths on many of the big stories in the marketplace, especially hockey. With the Leafs moving back into the spotlight and TSN’s strong hockey offerings as competition it seems likely that both the ratings and Bob’s interest would continue to be a problem.

 

Finally there is the issue of cost. Bob and others have made public comments about his close to one million dollar price tag. This would make him three to five times more expensive than comparable Toronto salaries for high profile radio jobs. It’s unknown whether Rogers approached Bob about restructuring or moving to a part-time role. Bob has enjoyed a long career and presumably doesn’t need to work anymore, except maybe to support his other business ventures. He recently noted that “I would have quit but my wife won’t stop spending.”

 

What Comes Next?

 

 

My own view, based on no inside info, is that he could still have a presence on TV:

 

 

Beyond TSN, McCown could try the Blundell route and see if his brand can attract advertisers. He did this in the past with his now defunct Fadoo content aggregator website. Given the age of McCown’s core audience and the very crowded marketplace this doesn’t seem very promising. Another option would be to see if The Athletic would give him some company shares in exchange for a weekly or semi-weekly podcast. They are still in content-acquisition mode and have a fledgling podcast project so there is some merit to this idea. Bob could also work from home.

 

If you have ideas for how McCown can plausibly stay “on the air” then leave them in the comments below. As I have written here before, I don’t think Bob has much relevance beyond Toronto so any kind of “national” product is not very viable. If you are reading this from other parts of the country then please leave a comment about that. I continue to find it puzzling that Canada doesn’t have sports media personalities that can drive conversations coast to coast.

 

 

Sportsnet’s website has been updated to show Jeff Blair as the new host of PTS, keeping Deitsch and Brunt as co-hosts. As TSM reported first, this is the plan for the summer but no commitments have been made beyond that. Not everyone considers the swap Blair for McCown to be an upgrade:

 

 

Rumours indicate that Tim & Sid are being considered as a replacement for PTS.

 

 

This would make a lot of sense as it would effectively counter-program Overdrive. Fans of morning zoo style radio would then have two flavours from which to choose on the drive home. This would also solve Sportsnet’s incoherent TV schedule, with Tim & Sid and PTS competing with each other. Having lived in other markets, it is common for the drive home show to run from 3-6:30, leaving time for pre-game shows on both radio and TV. One could imagine a version of Tim & Sid that is both for radio and TV, with some dedicated local radio time and some dedicated national TV time. Sources tell me that their TV show has not significantly outperformed the packaged clip show it replaced on Sportsnet, despite being significantly more expensive.

 

Much of this decision, as well as cuts to other shows, will fall to current Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley, who took over from Scott Moore in November of 2018. He inherits a very bloated Sportsnet line-up that is a miss-mash of splashy moves made in the wake of the NHL rights deal in 2013/14, cuts made in 2016 after two very bad years in the ratings, a large roster of baseball folks from the halcyon Jays days of 2015 and 2016, and a lot of writers who were primarily assigned to the now defunct Sportsnet Magazine. If he is intent on starting fresh with a sustainable multi-platform plan for the next five years then the network may look very different in September.

 

While TSN has also made cuts it’s worth pointing out that Rogers’ media division bears full responsibility for the national NHL rights (for another 7 years) as well as the Jays (indefinitely). Neither TV property is delivering what was hoped in terms of ratings. These will surely rebound at some point, but the people losing their jobs in the next few weeks will not be around to benefit from this. Most of the people who signed these restrictive deals moved on to other jobs over the last few years and were highly rewarded on their way out the door.

 

As a final point for the time being: it would be astounding for people like Jerry Howarth and Scott Moore to be given victory laps by Sportsnet but to deny one to Bob McCown. According to company statements, McCown doesn’t want a farewell tour. Since he is effectively being fired, this makes sense. I imagine things would be very different if he were leaving on his own terms.

 

To make sure Bob goes out in style we would like to hear from you about your favourite PTS memories. I’ll start:

 

 

Weekend Update: we will be adding content related to the end of PTS as it comes in.

 

  • Howard Berger writes about his time on PTS and has some juicy anonymous quotes from current Sportsnet staff:

 

“Everything that goes on around here, with respect to a financial issue, stems from that hockey contract”

 

  • It probably means nothing but Sportsnet’s website has some significant gaps at the moment

 

 

  • Most of his SN colleagues tweeted things about Bob. Deitsch penned a long statement that you can read here. Blocker Blair acknowledged Bob’s role — and that of ex-PTS producer Ryan Walsh — in putting him in a position to be the heir to the chair

 

 

  • There was not much from non-Rogers folks. Bruce Arthur and Steve Simmons both had something nice to say:

 

 

 

  • Simmons also added a lot more in his Sunday column:

 

“Bob McCown was like a great piece of Canadian furniture you didn’t want to part with. An antique of sports radio that made your house look better, feel better, got you through the day and then on to the next day.”

 

  • TV/Radio veteran Bill Brioux has a great write-up on the staying power of McCown and the end of that era.

 

“It was even fun listening when he didn’t appear to get along that well with his co-host of the moment. McCown had a way of treating those folks like “temps.” I don’t think his cantankerous approach was that much of an act, and if you understood that, I think, you got him as a co-worker as well as a listener.”

 

  • Elliotte Friedman spoke about Bob in his 31 Thoughts column:

 

“It was Bob McCown who gave me some of the greatest advice I ever received: “Don’t *&%$ With Happy!” He’d tell me constantly about people who left great situations for reasons that weren’t good enough and regretted it later.”

 

Monday Update: Rogers dropped the axe on dozens of jobs at Sportsnet after the media division posted an $84 million dollar loss in Q1. Rogers’ partner in the NHL rights deal TVA cut 68 jobs earlier this year. Canadian Press reports a Sportsnet statement explained the cuts as follows:

 

“Sportsnet is repositioning for the future by changing how it delivers content to audiences.”

 

Recently we caught a glimpse about what its repositioned vision might look like:

 

 

Best wishes to everyone at Rogers, especially those of you whose names we don’t know. DMs open, as well as email and text. See twitter handle.

 

 

Thanks for reading. Updates to follow …

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 84
  • comment-avatar

    Reposting in proper article…

    I find it ironic that this news is coming out on the same day the CRTC released the latest financial summaries that showed Sportsnet (National+One+360) going from 149mm pre-tax profit in 2017 all the way to… 174mm in 2018! Hate to repeat myself but there is still no evidence in the public numbers that the NHL deal is hampering anything. There was a bit of decline in ad revenues (likely Jays falling back to earth) but that was more than made up for by yet another increase in sub revenue. Contrast that with TSN (the perceived “winner” by losing) that saw the PTP go from 99 to 45mm on a large increase in programming expenses. Rogers is cutting SN jobs because Rogers wants to cut SN jobs not because they need to cut.

    As for Bob going, I haven’t listened to him in about 6 years now so makes no difference to me but it does seem odd to let him go in the middle of a contract that they are paying regardless. I sense there is a larger story about it not being told yet.

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    Mario 1 month ago

    I’m finding it hard to believe add revenue it down the Raptors at only Sportsnet by such a large margin, surely this cannot be only one sided after a long playoff run?
    If this is Bob’s last week on PTS that would be a sad day for such a long career with Rogers. I realize the show is not what it once was , definitely new younger faces are needed. How about Brady from the morning show , he has experienced working the afternoon drive show on 640am ?

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    I believe it was the day of the SC game 7 and PTS only had one hockey guest and it was before 5 pm. It was ALL Raptors, as had been the case in many PTS shows during their epic run. I loved it. Many listeners likely did too but I doubt Rogers was happy that its flagship radio show wasn’t promoting its $5.2B property. I believe the SC playoffs fared worse in Canada after the first round than in any other year in the Rogers deal. Bob was only making that sting worse — and good for him. Fuck Rogers. The hockey broadcasts are still not up to TSN standards even after five years. It’s possibly the most miserable company in Canada to deal with if you have a problem with their services. The Jays are horrible and run by robots that can’t connect with the everyday fan. And the Fan590 is a shadow of its former self —there is not one must-listen show on the station. 
    We will be canceling our cable and Internet within the next month, with this as the tipping point. 
    I will miss Bob. I will miss his acidic putdowns. His ability to ask the right questions. His sound. Goodbye, good sir. 
    (I hope Brunt and Richard are kept but I doubt Richard will be. Hopefully the Athletic will keep him afloat)

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    Mike V,

    I think the issue on the horizon for Sportsnet is that the payments to the NHL under the broadcast rights deal were back-loaded. I base this on public comments from Rogers at the time of the deal. Also, I did a quick analysis using the Commitments Notes from Rogers Annual Reports from 2012 to 2018. My analysis shows that approximately $1.497 billion has been paid to the NHL in the first 5 years of the contract (an average of $299 million per year); there is another $3.703 billion due over the last 7 years ($529 million per year).

    (It should be noted that I have assumed that the figures I have used for the NHL broadcast rights commitments do not include the cost offset that Rogers gains from selling the rights to TVA. This will reduce Rogers NHL broadcast rights cost. However, will TVA pay those fees in the future? I do not know).

    Therefore, given the estimated average annual increase in the NHL broadcast rights commitment of $230 million ($529 million less $299 million), Sportsnet’s profitability will be under a lot of stress going forward. Also, the number of subscribers have declined from 2014’s 8,290,000 to 7,156,538 in 2018. If that decline continues, revenues will be challenged in the future.

    There is definitely a need for Rogers to address the cost structure of its operations.

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    Bob, good find but that has to exclude the TVA payments. Going from 300m in the first half of the contract to 530 in the second half looks like too big of a jump. Take out the TVA payments and the average Rogers owes is more like 345m going forward, more than manageable in the future.

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    […] Mike in Boston for TorontoSportsMedia.com         Jun 20, 2019 […]

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    Rajeev-in-NJ 1 month ago

    Sad day for Toronto media…love him or hate him, timeless or dinosaur, there’s little doubt that Bob has been an iconic figure in the industry in Canada (GTA, specifically). Its hard to identify any other personality who manages (non-Sportsnet-employee) guests better…asks brief questions, listens to answers, follows-up on responses and lets the conversation go where it goes (vs. so many of our media personalities who come with a pre-determined set of questions and then proceed to ask them one-by-one without regard to flow or the answers being supplied). And on those occasions that there has been an issue requiring sensitivity or gravitas, nobody in our market has been better. Having said all that, with increasing focus on podcasts vs. live radio and a young demographic driving ad dollars, it’s not hard to see that Bob had probably priced himself out based on the ratings he could draw with a demographic that skews older.

    Hopefully he pops up on Sirius, Athletic, or some other platform where he can keep doing his thing for those that still enjoy his work (and maybe he can pick the bumper music now).

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    Mike V,

    What I have shown is the total of Rogers commitment under its NHL deal. However, based on the public comments and my analysis, Rogers commitments under the NHL deal were back-loaded. TVA’s annual commitment were not back-loaded as much as Rogers has with its NHL deal.

    I looked at Groupe TVA Inc.’s commitments from 2012 to 2018. It appears to me that TVA’s commitment to Rogers vis-à-vis the NHL deal over the 12 years was $840 million. As at December 31, 2012, TVA’s broadcast rights commitments were $86 million; on December 31, 2013, it was $881 million. After adding the $45 million reported in 2012 to be paid in 2013, TVA’s commitment to Rogers is $840 million ($881 million + $45 million – $86 million).

    I have estimated that there is $530 million left of TVA’s commitment to Rogers as at December 31, 2018; that works out to be an average of $76 million per year over the final 7 years of the deal. Over the first 5 years of the deal, the average annual cost to TVA was $62 million.

    This is a long way of saying that the net broadcast rights fees that Rogers will pay to the NHL will increase significantly over the last 7 years of the deal. Using my original figures, the net (after TVA’s payment to Rogers is included) shows that the average annual cost to Rogers was $266 million ($328 million less $62 million). The average cost over the final 7 years will be $433 million ($509 million less $76 million). That is an average annual increase of $167 million, which would wipe out Sportsnet’s 2018 pre-tax profit.

    In summary, the net cost of Rogers NHL broadcast rights will increase significantly post-2018. That is why Sportsnet needs to address its cost structure.

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    A few things here:

    -We’ve seen shocking layoffs happen too many times for this to be surprising, even for Bob. That 1050 has been eating away at PTS’ audience and sports radio in general has lost droves of listeners to podcasts makes it even less surprising. For reference, the FAN pulled a 10.1 share in their key demographic in Fall 2016. In Fall 2018 that fell all the way to a 5.8. Some of that went to TSN but a lot of it just left sports radio entirely as podcasts took off with more consumer choice.

    -Some credit here has to go to TSN Radio and Overdrive for finally slaying the dragon. Make no mistake, they still trail the FAN considerably in that time-slot, but by a lot less than before. In the months ahead I can only expect more audience to gravitate to TSN with Bob no longer at the FAN (even though that show basically goes on hiatus in the summer). Will be interesting to see what happens in the Fall. I say without exaggeration that Overdrive is the best radio show I’ve ever heard in this market. It as close to appointment listening as I get.

    -Dan Shulman is clearly the best candidate to take over PTS. With a reduced travel schedule for ESPN commitments, it’s now feasible and it makes a lot of sense. He’s knowledgeable, entertaining, sounds great, and most importantly, LOCAL. The absolute WORST thing Rogers can do here is make some national show that’ll air on other radio affiliates across the country. Sports radio is all local. They’re looking to cut costs but surely they can’t be that stupid, can they?

    -More has been written about PTS on this site and in the comments section over the years than probably any other topic in sports media. For all the talk about Bob being bored or disengaged lately, he’s still a force in this market and I expect his next media venture to do extremely well. I eagerly anticipate his return, wherever or however that may be. He excels at in-depth interviewing and discussing sports business in particular, and I hope his next venture overlaps with those areas.

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    […] Rogers Media were fed up with one another. The other story circulating is that Rogers is about to make massive company-wide job cuts throughout Sportsnet, so the timing of this is likely connected to […]

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    There are escalators in the deal, but not to that extent. Think the globe reported (can’t find the article now) that the initial year was a bit over 300mm, rising through the length and finishes at in the 500s. So if you take year 1 at 310mm and apply a 5.9% annual increase over 12 years, you get to 5.2B in total and year 12 finishes at 582mm. The 5th year that just finished Rogers would’ve paid 390mm. It’s been reported that TVA commitment is 110/year or roughly 1.3B and a quarter of the contract. Assuming TVA’s % share stays the same over the lift, Rogers portion is reduced to 233/292/437mm for years 1/5/12.

    Yes in the final few years, profit margins will be squeezed if you make the assumption that revenue is flat for 7 years at a sports network. However, that is still years away (the PTP increase in ’18 almost covers a year and a half of escalator increases) and I don’t think that’s a reasonable assumption given sports increased premium in the TV landscape. It’s also the same thing we’ve heard before. No Canadian teams/Strombo/etc were supposed to lead to losses in the first years and we see that it really didn’t.

    Rogers benefits from the public perception among fans that the NHL is an albatross because it gives them cover to do things unsavory. “We need to cut costs to cover losses” is a better sell than “Sportsnet had a record year but we’re greedy and feel that we can save xmm by cutting y jobs on/off screen with no discernable decline in revenue”. No matter what happens in the financials, they’ll keep doing it as long as they can.

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    So Doug MacLean is out. Seems like a nice guy but didn’t bring much. Was McCown his gateway to Sportsnet from doing hits on radio?

    Will be interesting to see the other changes to on-air hockey. If Cherry’s deal is done that’s likely an easy cut. 

    I’m likely in the minority but replacing Ron Maclean with a non-Strombo type would be fine with me. 

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    @ Mike V: I believe you have it backwards, fans see Rogers as the albratross.

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    Mike V,

    Your projection of Rogers commitment is consistent with what I have written. Using your starting point of $310 million and escalating it by 5.09% per year, the average commitment in Years 6 through to and including Year 12 is $492 million. I had estimated it to average $509 million during that period. With your figures, the average in years 5 to 12 is $480 million.

    Your TVA numbers are incorrect. I used the numbers from TVA’s audited financial statements. In none of the annual audited financial statements from December 31, 2012 to December 31, 2018 has the reported future commitments for broadcast rights exceeded $902 million (December 31, 2014). Therefore, your $1.3 billion figure is incorrect. My estimate of $840 million as at December 31, 2013 is reasonable.

    According to the CRTC report that you highlighted, TVA’s total broadcast rights fee expenses were $297 million (an average of $74 million) during the four-years ended August 31, 2018. Therefore, assuming all of those expenses relate to the Rogers deal, TVA has $543 million to pay over the last 8 years ($840 million less $297 million). (Other than the NHL deal, TVA has few properties). That averages $68 million per year. Therefore, on average, Sportsnet’s net cost in years 5 to 12 are $412 million ($480 million less $68 million). In the first 4 years, Sportsnet’s net cost averaged $264 million ($338 million less $74 million). On average, the net cost over the final 8 years will be $148 million higher than it averaged over the first 4 years ($412 million less $264 million).

    Therefore, the numbers show that Sportsnet’s net broadcast rights fees will increase significantly going forward. They need to address their cost structure.

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    Maybe it’s a silly reaction to a sports radio show being cancelled – but the Bob news has definitely made me sad. He’s been a constant, there during the Blue Jays World Series years when I was a kid, all the way until now. Always there on the radio. It’s kind of hard to imagine not hearing him in the afternoons anymore. Say what you will about him – he was very successful for a very long time, was entertaining, and wasn’t afraid to go after his bosses. I also appreciated how in this market where hockey talk can get stuffed down your throat, Bob was openly disdainful of that. He talked about what he wanted to talk about – and as someone who loves sports but isn’t really into hockey, I really appreciated that.

    Obviously Bob couldn’t do it forever, but I’m frustrated that something couldn’t have been worked out that eased Bob out the door. Maybe cutting his show to an hour or something like that. It’s irritating that the ridiculously enormous NHL deal probably led to this (and other cuts). Bob’s ratings may have slipped a bit – but lets not act like he was suddenly drawing flies. It was still a top rated show, and (especially since Deitsch and Brunt had come back) still a high quality show.

    Bob was the only reason I felt any investment in The Fan overall – pretty much the other reason it’d basically be my go to station in the car, and the reason why I’d keep an eye on what else was going on in the lineup. With him gone I don’t think I’ll feel that anymore about The Fan. I’m not even sure how much local sports radio I’ll really bother listening to anymore – as other than PTS I’ve really gravitated toward podcasts anyway. But I would say The Fan has definitely lost me with this move.

    I hope Bob lands somewhere else soon, and whatever he does, I hope he’s able to recreate some of the magic he had on PTS. Even if it’s a weekly podcast or something – I’d take it. Really going to miss that show.

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    “However with the Jays toiling away at a rebuild Bob is simply out of his depths on many of the big stories in the marketplace, especially hockey. With the Leafs moving back into the spotlight and TSN’s strong hockey offerings as competition it seems likely that both the ratings and Bob’s interest would continue to be a problem.”

    Conversely, we just went through a 2 month period where the overwhelming narrative was ‘Canada and especially Toronto is clearly ready to embrace more than just hockey’. If the Raptors resign Kawhi, TSN will look completely out of touch having an ex Leaf on the morning show, a two hour daily hockey show, and then a drive home show with two more hockey players. That whole lineup is a can’t listen for me.

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    Roy Quinn 4 weeks ago

    Do they actually have “Talent” Co-ordinators at Rogers? The Fan lost this commuters ears in the morning a few years back. I know that Blair is an excellent scribe. However, he should not have a microphone or camera in front of him. Ditto with Kypreos on HNIC. Both are unsuitable for Television or Radio. Rogers could cut some costs here. McCowan? A superior radio talent, gets axed?!
    Unbelievable incompetence at Rogers regarding on-air Talent sourcing.

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    Gord Martineau , Kevin Frankish ,Bobcat for many many years all Robbers star front line employees in Toronto.
    Then in the last couple of years all thrown to the curb and QUICKLY . I assume all got very disliked very quickly. ( I don’t think so Tim )
    All of the above made big dough…but who gave them the big $$ in the first place ??
    I hope every step Bobcat takes for the next few years he lands on Robberrs (be quiet ) money !!

    If anyone out there thinks robbers cares about what the public thinks might want to examine their opinion .

    Oh, I have no idea who is next but any warm body with over 25 years at robbers must be wondering a tad ..

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    Might be the Podcast effect as well? Was mentioned here that they had been talking about inserting commercials into the Podcasts that you would not be able to fast forward through which is starting to happen in some on demand television. Other than an odd Pizza Pizza ad, I don’t recall it happening. Likely the combination of 1: less listeners to radio in general, 2: more people ( like me ) who listen to 75% of their radio or more via Podcasts, 3: less ad revenue 4: the burden of the NHL payments be they static or ascending 5:. Bob not wanting to take a nickel less! But 30 years is a solid run by anyone in any endeavour. Time for Bob to happily put this in his rear view mirror and ride into the sunset. 

    Yes, Blair is capable of sitting in the chair but it isn’t enough to cut it. Not sure what they do. Is this the chess move Andrew Walker saw early? Will he be offered it? There’s nobody in the present roster who can perform but maybe they don’t really care anymore, which is the TSN 1050 motto. 

    1050 should act quickly and overpay Bob to do a 20 minute hit one time a week at 5 PM to drag some 590 listeners up the dial. Start day 1 of Leafs camp. 

    Feel bad for Deitsch who uprooted his family to move here only just over a year ago.

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    I see host preview of posting is enabled again unfortunately….

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    McCown provided the only valid and interesting sports programme on television or radio.
    I have the great misfortune to be married to a sports fanatic, a man who has spent a good
    part of his life as a competitive athlete, and now finds great pleasure following sports.
    While I cannot share his interest as a rule, Prime Time Sports has been a Sports programme we both enjoyed.
    Coffee and Bob McCown and his guests and their comments and interpretations made for a
    positive shared time, a time when sports happenings were interesting as discussed by a person
    who knew his topics and was not afraid to express his opinions, with guests who knew their
    subjects and were animated in their conversation.
    As for Sportsnet, the loss of Bob McCown leaves a couple of silly tag team hosts who find their own jokes funny (a real comedian never laughs at his own jokes), a few show hosts who have no idea what broadcasting is about nor how to go about it and little else.
    The decision was easy: Bobcat laid his sunglasses on the desk (very good bit of business, that) and it was a quick quick call to the service provider to have the Sportsnet channels removed immediately.
    I refused to be bored or offended by mediocrity.

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    David Miller 4 weeks ago

    Well, no more Sports Net for me, and Rogers, like all media conglomerates they tell the truth as well as cows fly, they just can’t. Tim and Sid as replacement for Mcowan? The Howdy Doody Show with Clarabell the clown is pretty much how that translates. Someone suggested Bob might end up on Serius, hope so. He’s getting paid for the remainder of his contract anyway so he’ll not be financially worried. THANKS, BOB, YOU WERE ONE OF THE INTELLIGENT BROADCASTERS ON SPORTS MEDIA FOREVER AND I WILL MISS HEARING YOUR OPINIONS AND THE INTERVIEWS YOU GAVE. HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU IN SOME OTHER MEDIA VENUE, CHEERS! NOW THERE’S NO ONE. 

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    Mark Coale 4 weeks ago

    Wow.

    I had not listened to any 590 podcasts in a couple weeks (when baseball central went on hiatus) and now Bob is gone!? 

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    Mark Coale 4 weeks ago

    As I was driving around, I started wondering what a potential Bobcat podcast might be like.

    It will definitely not be free.

    Co-host? If there was one, I would put my money on Perkins. Friend of Bob, on Rodgers enemies list, hits Bob’s key areas of interest (baseball and golf).

    Daily? Prob not. 3 times a week? Maybe.

    Worth subscribing? Might depend on price point.

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    I think I’m getting old.

    On The Fan, Jeff Blair and Bob McCown were the best on-air personalities.  Why?  Because they’re old and wise.  All you have to do is contrast the awful Good Show at 1pm with the hosts blabbing on non-stop while the guest sits there and regurgitates the spoon-fed answer that the hosts just gave them.  Seriously, they ask a question that takes 45 seconds and contains all the answer in the question.  To me, that is a young media person full of themselves, not understanding that interviewing is an art that needs to be mastered.  Bob is the best at that.  He has it all.  Wit, business acumen, a lovely voice, and history to flesh out pieces.  I’ve heard him talk about his Ali call-ins and even though I’ve heard them before, I pull over to hear it again.  I will NEVER do that with any of the other hacks on 590 now.  Except maybe for Jeff Blair, but even then he is not as good as Bob, and I’m pretty sure he’d admit it.
    A big mistake by Rogers.  I will now turn them off and try to find where Bob shows up…  TSN is no better.  Maybe it’s just the young generation doing what they do best.  Empty, shallow radio.  Yuck.

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    Bingo Bango Bongo 4 weeks ago

    @Justin I hear Overdrive has been beating Prime Time for the last few months and when you throw in digital reach (podcasts,online) it’s not a surprise. Make no mistake, Bob set the bar very high and deserves the accolades, but it’s also undeniable that he’s been mailing it in for quite a while. Think about it; if you listened to Bob today you heard the same show 5 years ago. Still pretty shocking. And @Yaz, why would TSN bring Bob in to do a hit at 5 when they have Ray Ferraro in that slot. That Ferraro hit is the best segment going. They would be crazy to change it. 

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    Sounds like Bunkis doesn’t think he can learn anything from McCown about how to conduct an interview………on Good Show today he said that McCown recently pulled him aside to offer his some tips on how to improve the show and advice on how to conduct an interview………….Bunkis said that he listened to McCown but he doubts he will take any of that advice because “as long as I have this job I don’t think there is any way I will be able to conduct an interview like Bob McCown does”……………he compared it to Gretzky telling his players how to play hockey when he was head coach of the Coyotes

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    Question. Is there a forum/customer feedback site at Rogers, where a customer can voice their thoughts? Something actually connected to the Programming Department. Seems to me that Rogers has no clue, that some listeners actually tune in/out, based on the skillset of the on air talent.
    Understanding, that it is subjective. I personally, feel insulted by Rogers, by some of the “talent” that is contaminating my TV/Radio broadcasts. Yes. I can choose to change the channel and yes, I do. HNIC intermissions with Kypreos are muted. Thing is, I feel bad for McLean, Hrudey and Friedman. these three would do quite well, without Kypreos bringing everything to a grinding halt, with his total lack of presentation skills. HNIC PBP is muted also, with Joe Bowens broadcast synced on the radio, (yes I am  Leafs fan and yes, most Leaf fans (there are a few of us Rogers) appreciate the excitement that Bowen brings to the experience). Sorry. Hughson and Simpsons “impartiality” does not engage this Leaf fan.
    And now here is another insult. A master in his art, McCown is replaced by someone who needs to stick to writing (I’ll acknowledge that Blair is smart and can write. However. I scream at the radio, when I hear him repeat himself and stammer incessantly). Therefore. I change the channel, within 30 seconds. Don’t know what audience you’re after Rogers. Judging by your on air personality hires these days, I’m not part of that audience.

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    Gary M 4 weeks ago

    Justin, I think a big chunk of that Fall 2016-Fall 2018 differential is the Blue Jays playoff fortunes.

    I seriously doubt Dan Shulman is going to take this on. He does too many live events to be chained to a 3 hour daily radio show.

    For those talking about Brady and Tim/Sid, it’s certainly plausible but one thing seems very certain to me. This shake up will be used as an opportunity to make Sportsnet Radio significantly less white.

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    Hmm ok. The TVA number was widely reported at the time of the contract but let’s use the audited number. So instead of increasing ~18mm/year Rogers commitment is more ~21-23mm. I think that is still manageable giving the current financial situation. Rogers could have paid the rights fees due five years later in the contract and still make more PTP than TSN. The notion that they need to fire (and still pay for) a radio host for a TV deal feels far fetched. 

    Also remember this is the station that paid Greg Brady to sit at home for a year before bringing him back when Blundell bombed. They’ve done stupid things with money and talent before. 

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    Mike V,

    I did not say that Rogers had to let McCown go because of the financial challenges of the Rogers-NHL deal. I don’t understand why they did not just let his contract expire at its conclusion in 18 months (reportedly). I don’t see how letting McCown go before his contract expires saves any money; we agree on that.

    My comments pertain to the rumoured widespread cutting of costs that I believe are partly related to the Rogers-NHL deal. The NHL rights fees will escalate and that will put financial pressure on Rogers. Those net rights fees under the NHL deal will grow approximately 7% per year. Given that rights fees accounted for approximately 75% of Sportsnet’s expenses (according to the CRTC’s 2017 and 2018 figures), I think it is prudent for Rogers to address its production costs, the second highest expense category (18% of expenses).

    Thanks for the discussion.

    Cheers!

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    I disagree that Bob has any value outside of the GTA or Ontario.  At least from my perspective.  I had never really heard of Bob or PTS since I live out in western Canada until the podcast rebroadcast. I have listened to PTS since near the beginning of podcasts (10-12 years?). Granted, I am not interested in any of the Toronto sports team (except Raps) but he has many guests covering all sorts of sports markets.  I like Bob’s interview style and wit.  In this day and age of “hot takes” it’s nice to have a good old school interview.  If he moved to the Athletic, that might be the thing to take me over the top and finally pull the trigger on a subscription. The Athletic would open up a huge selection of guests and markets for him.  Everyone who complained about the show, and Bob, need to remember it was all free content and they always had the choice to move to a different spot on the dial.   

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    Johnny 4 weeks ago

    I have an idea- very simple. You want to save some money? Just cancel every other show on the Fan and put it toward PTS with McCown, because quite frankly every other show is unlistenable. I couldn’t say it better than Ben did an earlier post – “All you have to do is contrast the awful Good Show at 1pm with the hosts blabbing on non-stop while the guest sits there and regurgitates the spoon-fed answer that the hosts just gave them. Seriously, they ask a question that takes 45 seconds and contains all the answer in the question.” Thank goodness for Dan Patrick on 1150 in the morning, and satellite radio, because there is nothing left on the Fan.

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    Bill sinclair 4 weeks ago

    When your trying to pull revenue from the country it’s smart to have content relative to the whole country not just the centre of the universe. Just say’n.

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    Doug Atchison 4 weeks ago

    There’s a real void on TV commentary with the absence of Bob McCown. Canadian broadcasting lost a valuable asset.

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    Ryan Marks 4 weeks ago

    Did anyone see the incredibly massive amount of tweets towards Bob after Friday’s show? I mean literally 1000’s and 1000’s under Bob McCown or @FadooBobcat giving him a heart felt goodbye. I’ve never seen that kind of love for a sports media person in Canada ever, and they’re still continuing to flow in. It was overwhelming that there were so many.

    I know this blog hates McCown, but I’ve actually enjoyed the last two years of the show almost more than the previous 29. His irreverent humor and looking at things from a far, allowed other personalities who came on to shine. His show became like LeBatard’s, which has exploded in the States and now in Canada, where it didn’t take it or himself too seriously, and was a step back from sports. The Friday panel’s became great radio, because the panel pushed the discussion, not just Bob. And he was still doubling Overdrive in the ratings, and way more that among 18-24’s.

    People forget, they tried to fire McCown at least once, the most famous version bringing in Shulman when he was at his Canadian peak. And it was such a disaster, they had to fly to Vegas and beg Bob to come back, which gave him his leverage and huge salary to begin with.

    And if 1050 were to hire him, that would bring the first automatic win for TSN ever. Even the threat of that, might make 590 just to put him back on.

    I mean Don Cherry is still on, and Bob is way more vital and in tact than Don. 590 marketing must be looking at those tweets and going “What have we done”? Very few on here have taken account, that there’s a good chance he’ll be back, maybe at a slightly reduced rate that Sportnet can justify it. Maybe having to pay a higher rate, if they think he’ll go to someone else. They’ve tried to get rid of him many times before, and failed miserably.

    I mean if 640 or anyone else wanted back in the sports game, all they’d have to do is hire Bob and they’ll be the ratings leader right away. Then Sportsnet has created even more competition for themselves, by shooting themselves in the foot. If i’m a program director, I look at those tweets and I’d say “Ya, I need that”. There is no way I would have said that before Friday, but Friday’s social media storm has completely changed the narrative here. And they’re still going. If the people have insisted Don stay on, and Ron be rehired, this is even bigger than that.

    I think Bob knows this, which is why Friday’s show was like that. No reason for a goodbye show, when you know almost certainly you’ll be back. Just make sure you make it a Canadian-type reserved tear jerker, so you’ll get a reaction. No wonder why they tried to do it on Thursday, yet failed again.

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    Any other on-air talent rumored in this so far?

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    Johnny C 4 weeks ago

    A buddy of mine works at TSN. He tells me last summer
    Sportsnet was anxious to sell off a number of regular
    season games to TSN.  TSN asked for some playoff 
    games too. “No deal” said Rogers.  “Good luck!” said TSN.

    I prefer TSN regional broadcasts vastly over Sportsnet.

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    Only going by years & years of past performance.
    Whoever Robbers chooses to take the Throne of PTS
    It will be the Wrong choice !!

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    Gary M 4 weeks ago

    I enjoy Bob.

    I enjoy John Shannon, Brunt etc.

    But Bob with John Shannon, etc. was just too much old white guy with the same cadence and sense of humour and it made the show seem more dated than it had to. Poison in this marketplace in 2019, imo.

    Carson and McMahon, Letterman and Shaffer, eventually you sound more like yesterday than today. Whereas Regis Philbin combines with Kathie Lee and then Kelly Ripa and he could go to age 80. He’d still be there if his faculties hadn’t slowed down.

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    I am sorry to see Bob go but because of the overwhelming number of commercials on PTS(and of course all programs)I simply stopped listening about a year ago – Now I see on a previous post that podcasts may have commercials that

    can’t be fast forwarded – Are podcasts free or on a subscription basis? I can’t imagine paying for a podcast and then having no option but to listen to commercials – I was a long time XM subscriber but gave up because of the commercials that were included – I realize somebody has to pay the freight but it won’t be me – I certainly don’t know what the answer is but there is nothing important enough to me that I am willing to pay for programming and still be bombarded with the same commercials 5 or 6 times for 16/17 minutes an hour – I realize I am in the minority when it comes to sports but I have better things to spend my money on –

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    Debbie Jones 4 weeks ago

    I am a huge fan of McCowns show and very disappointed that hes on his way out. His style and content are leagues beyond the typecast 30 something jocks that the Fan has been placing on prime broadcasts like the morning show and the 1 pm show. I cant tell these inarticulate and unintelligent meatheads apart. Blair and McCown are the reasons I listen to the Fan. Deitsch was a very nice addition and is the perfect counter to McCown… what a loss.

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    It’s interesting that TSM has tweeted TSN Radio would have no interest in McCown. For that station’s entire existence they have managed to find one show that draws more listeners than an all traffic station (or dead air) would. Bob may have been losing his lead to Overdrive, but according to the last books he was still in the lead. And really we’re splitting hairs – however tight that battle was, it’s still a lot of listeners. If I was TSN I would at least CONSIDER offering Bob, say, a shortened 6-7pm Prime Time-esqe show and moving Overdrive to 3-6 (a change TSM tweeted they were considering looking at anyway). At Bob’s age, maybe 3 hours a day is a bit much to ask, but an hour could fantastic (That’s what The Fan should have done IMO. Tim & Sid 3-6, Bob 6-7). Maybe TSN has no interest, but as someone who has listened to The Fan for years and never gotten into TSN Radio at all, this would be one move that would absolutely lead me to switch over.

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    Gary M 4 weeks ago

    Ryan, great post. The reason I suspect it’ll be different this time is radio itself has imploded and costs are now a much bigger issue than revenues. Can’t pay major league salaries in what has become a Double A league. And with regard to the Shulman disaster of the past, can’t have major league disasters in a Double A league.

    Know what kind of deck chairs you buy for the Titanic? The cheapest ones.

    So whereas in another era you’re right that 1050 would’ve jumped at this, today I’m not so sure they write that cheque. If Bob wants to do it for a fifth of his previous salary, maybe.

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    @Ryan Marks – I totally share your sentiment. Since this blog’s inception, a large part of it has been people complaining about Prime Time (but I always took that as a sign that it was just basically the city’s only relevant sports show, and complaining is what people do on the internet – I mean who’s going to complain about Macko & Cauz or something when there’s not really anyone listening).

    As someone who has read this blog a long time, it’s also funny to be to think back at all the shows people here seemed sure would take down McCown (Brady & Waters, Cybulski etc). Honestly, I think a lot of it comes down to – people who want to hear a jock type show where they break down minutiae of the Leafs hate PTS. Whereas people who prefer more of a big picture, magazine type discussion prefer Bob. Which is fine! There should be room for both kinds of shows. It is kind of ironic that hockey is what ended up doing Bob in (not that his competition talked a lot about it, but that Rogers invested too much in it).

    Yes – The outpouring on twitter in support of Bob and the show was really nice to see. I was glad I wasn’t the only person who felt a bit of a loss.

    I’d love to share your opinion that Bob will be back. If he was 5 years younger I would absolutely take that to the bank. Harder to say at 67 years old. Nothing’s impossible though and I’d love to see it. Would probably require the new Fan lineup to basically bomb, and perhaps Bob being willing to come back at reduced pay/workload. I won’t hold my breath for it, but it would be awesome if it happened somehow.

    If Bob doesn’t land on the radio, probably an Athletic podcast is the best suggestion I’ve heard. I’d be happy for Bob to do a self produced podcast, but I hope he gets it right. We’ve seen a lot of fired broadcasters start their own thing (Mike Richards for one) and the end result kind of comes off a bit clunky and underwhelming. If Bob starts his own pod, I hope he brings younger people aboard who understand the medium well, and format the podcast in a way that will make the most of what Bob can do. A good co host would be huge too. A Bob McCown/Dave Hodge podcast certainly wouldn’t sound young … but I think that could be kind of an awesome listen.

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    @Ryan Marks

    Shulman did not get the PTS job in the early 1990’s because they had fired McCown………..he got it because they had moved McCown to the morning show

    And Shulman was not dumped by PTS because he was a “disaster”…………he did a very good job and as far as I know he got good ratings………..he left PTS on his own because he was offered the Jays television job on TSN

    By that time McCown had already been let go from the morning show………..and that’s when they went back to McCown and begged him to come back to be PTS host 

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    Richard 4 weeks ago

    Bobcat was the best. My car radio was always on 590 listening to his comments and interviews.
    My wife one said that there is only one station on the air and that is 590. I would like to know the Ignoramus who made such a benign decision. I might just cancel my Rogers contract and go to Bell.

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    And another great thing about the Bob McCown show, was he had great guests and kept the conversation going among
    all involved. You never felt the show was being dominated by certain aggressive personalities while others
    couldn’t get a word in. Not a small thing for frustrated listeners of other TV discussion groups.
    Bring back Bob!

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    Drumanchor 4 weeks ago

    And the Lord said, “Bob is the best only when he is interested!” And the people aped, “Yes, he IS the best when he is interested!” 

    But the Lord is wrong. Bob was/is always the best. Wherever he takes his act, be it on radio or his own podcast, long may he rein. And I am looking forward to the Lord – saying on the very site – that when interested, he’s the best!

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    Sperk 4 weeks ago

    I thought Bob had a great final run with the success of the Raptors these past two months..he was energetic and dialed in. He didn’t talk hockey because he knew the market wasn’t interested in the Stanley Cup once the Canadian teams went out and I guess he paid the price for that with his job.

    I also thought the Raps run really exposed the hockey pucks’ one sport knowledge. I’m admittedly not a huge fan of Overdrive but they’ve been close to unlistenable these past few weeks IMO. It would normally only take them a couple of sentences into a Raps segment before one of the would turn it back to hockey for all us dumb dumbs out there who don’t understand any other sports without a pucks context. The day after the Kawhi Game 7 shot they spent two segments talking about the door to the bench…the whole country was captivated by that shot and these three had their rulers out debating where the doors should placed. There are others who fell into this (Shannon)…hockey is king and we all know that but when something else happens I think it really puts the hockey centric shows at a disadvantage. I’m sure Rogers will bring in someone who’s primary interest is hockey to replace Bob, acquiesce to their NHL overlords and combat Overdrive but we all be less off for it.

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    Ryan Marks 4 weeks ago

    Ya Gary M, I think you’ve got it. I bet you they tried to ask him to take a salary cut, and he said I’d rather walk.

    If they cut McCpwn’s salary, they could point to Bob when somebody else tries to use leverage for a higher salary.

    I wonder if TSN saying they didn’t want McCown was a way to make sure he didn’t have a big delay with a long non-compete clause. He’s just too valuable for them not to consider it,

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    Gary M 4 weeks ago

    Daniel, the problem is you don’t generate a ton of revenue with a one hour show so what could they realistically pay Bob? If he’s willing to take a spectacular pay cut to do it, like literally 90%, then it could be a go.

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    Well it took 4 days, but finally: An honest, hits you in the gut on air response to Bob’s leaving and a fine acknowledgement of his contributions.

    The fact that it came from….Jeff Blair: thank you sir and to those who have critically judged you (myself included) based on your earlier on air performances; I can only say…I was wrong and welcome aboard (for as long as it lasts).

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    PS

    While not a daily SN personality, Brian Burke’s comments about the Bobcat were also appreciated.

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    Brett 4 weeks ago

    25 year old Albertan here and I can say that me and my dad have grown up with bob mccown and are both pretty bummed out about this news. No idea what I’m going to fill the void with. Probably just nothing. Terrible and sad 

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    Getting rid of Bob is a huge mistake. It will only make matters worse. Blair is unlistenable. They just lost this longtime listener. Soyanara. Do you hear that? Crickets

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    Blair will never (nor will anyone else) replace Bob, but as an admitted old guy I’ll take him over an “overaged wanna be still teenager” such as Sid anytime.

    Tim on his own however, has the skillset to deserve consideration on his own.

    In fairness to Blair, he has eliminated mostly eliminated the constant “ahs” and long pauses that were the hallmark of his early on air shows.

    No one will come close to replicating Bob; but I’m not looking for guys who think they can still pull off (and believe that a mature audience appreciates) a faux 20’s something act.

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    I somehow think that, like Johnny Carson after his run was over, Bob is never coming back – and I say that with a lot of regret since I Ioved the show.

    Let’s face it, Bob is a bit lazy and was very comfortable in a routine that allowed him to come in at 3:50 pm and be out the door at 7:01 pm…plus 12 weeks of vacation…NICE!

    Who in this media environment will ever match those perks with a $750K annual salary…especially in small-potatoes Canada! Probably nobody.

    For Bob to start his own podcast now would be an uphill climb. How would he monetize it? For it to have any kind of subscriber enticement he’d perhaps have to offer it free for six months and then yank it away behind a paywall. Could he ever succeed with it to a point where he would be raking in the same kind of money that he got for PTS? I have my doubts.

    I have to think that deep down Bob is scared shitless over what just happened. He took it for granted that by being number 1 rated (despite the recent ratings decline) he’d be safe, and, that his departure from the air would happen of his own choosing. What a shock!

    Let’s hope he writes an autobiography. He now has the time.

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    Ryan Marks 4 weeks ago

    Daniel, great post.

    Ya, Toronto Sports Media should be held accountable for what happened to McCown. Their negativity was disgusting and ridiculous, and needs to be called out. And Blair is too pessimistic and negative for 4-7. It simply doesn’t work.

    Good call on the athletic podcast, and other new media groups. It’s a a possibility for Bob as they could set up pretty easily.

    But I really feel someone on Toronto radio will give McCown a chance, even if it’s not a sports station. His character and program just suits the demographics of radio culture, and the Toronto commute can be brutal for 100’s of thousands. Bob’s personality and interesting radio is a necessity for many people’s commuting lives and sanity. And yet Bob still has a large younger audience. The amount of people who want him back on, and for him to make a media frenzied return is too big a thing now. The twitter count is still going on. A new Bob show would be a ratings automatic winner and silly for someone not to take a chance, but certainly with a reduced salary. But a radio wage would be much higher than any start up podcast, that’s for sure. And Bob and his voice is the definition of drive time commercial radio.

    But Bob even said it himself, he never meant to be a sports media personality. He got the job because he had the most character, and needed the work. I could see him do a mostly sports show, but also talking about Toronto and Canadian issues like LeBatard, with great songs in between. The important thing is he needs good personalities around him, because that’s how he works best. Deitsch is still here, and working (which really surprises me) and I suspect his non-compete clause is minimal because he’d barely had time to set himself in the Toronto market yet. But finding other personalities will be a challenge.

    No Bob’s not young, but he’s still vital, and his take a step back from sports older persona is perfect for Toronto drive time radio, and needed….. badly.

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    Bingo Bango Bongo 4 weeks ago

    @ Ryan Marks  Where are you getting this negativity from Toronto Sports Media? TSM and Mike (in Boston) are the biggest shills for McCown going. Are there some posters who were less than enthusiastic about Bob? Yes! And I’m one of them, but it’s because he was so good, he was the guy who drove the sports radio bus. That was a long time ago. He hasn’t been that guy in a long while. He’s not going to be back anytime soon and there’s a very good reason for me saying that. I don’t know how long his contract lasts but I guarantee you there’s a pretty strong No Compete clause in it. If he works in this market, he doesn’t get the money he’s owed (with some small exceptions). He won’t burp for money without Rogers permission. I don’t know what he’s still owed but I’m sure it’s substantial enough to keep TSN away. If he comes back, it won’t be on his terms. In other words, he won’t demand or command even half of what he had. Bob’s a big boy. He knows that. I believe this whole thing blindsided him. He was king for a very long time and good on him, but if you know anything about the radio business you know that this was unavoidable. The surprise isn’t that it happened, but when.

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    Gary M 4 weeks ago

    Some of it is about the end of Bob, but a lot of it as about the end of radio.

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    I assume Bob had no choice for guests on his final round-table Friday.
    Looking back a few days later,I kinda think Bob would have loved to have his three
    most all-time most despised an hated guests on his last show .
    John Shannon,Ken Reid & Gord Kirke !!

    Good luck Bob,Piss away robbers buy out money well !! “Ya Bimbo”

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    I wonder if Sportsnet takes a run at Mitch Melnick in Montreal? I think he would be best equipped to do a national-ish show. Not sure if he would be willing to walk away from the equity he has in the Montreal market, but I think every sports radio personality is on thin ice these days. Plotting a career must be stressful. 

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    some guy 4 weeks ago

    I can confirm that I know of at least a dozen people have been let go. Most are producers/associate producers in the live events and news departments. A few of them have been with the network since near the beginning. There’s a rumour floating around that the hockey department will be addressed after free agency.

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    @Sperk,
    Hockey’s in an interesting spot in this country right now. It’s our national sport, but as Sportsnet’s difficulty with the NHL deal has shown, that love doesn’t come at any price. More intriguing to me is that when non-hockey sports become stories it catches both hockey-focused networks with their pants down. Both companies own the Raptors, but TSN and Sportsnet have less than a handful of full-time NBA/Raptors writers on their sites. The same holds true with TSN and MLB. They hold very little discussion of MLB and only two writers. Brooke Henderson can set a record of LPGA wins, but golf coverage is still less than a handful of hosts/writers across both networks. And of course, both of them lost Champions League soccer. Both networks struggle with the idea that there is more than one sport in this country, and they feel they need to explain other sports in hockey contexts, such as downplaying Kevin Durant’s injury as “it’s not a hockey injury”. It’s simultaneously annoying and intriguing to watch, as the networks keep getting examples that Canadians follow more than one sport (how’d that World Cup of Hockey do again?). Not putting all your eggs in one basket is always good advice.

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    Bob just got paid to not do radio for 18 months. Bet on Bob doing what Bob does best: getting paid to do something. And that doesn’t include doing some piddling Podcast. 

  • comment-avatar

    Hello, Bob just got paid to not do radio for 18 months. Bet on Bob doing what Bob does best: getting paid to do something. And that doesn’t include doing some piddling Podcast. 

  • comment-avatar

    Just a quick note to say thanks to everyone for all the really interesting comments on this story. The post has been updated several times with new content, including Jeff Blair’s McCown tribute.

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    Bob takes criticism here for what his show was not about – a deep dive into the analysis of plays and players. People will critisize him for not knowing his stuff but really, we didn’t listen to Bob to dissect the prospective NFL, or NHL draftees. Yes – Bob was mailing it in sometimes. But, the alternative (which some people seem to love) is a frat show that talks hockey. Even when they don’t talk hockey, they will then compare whatever they are discussing to hockey. Heck, TSN even describes the show like this:

    “Spend the afternoon with the boys guilt free. Hang out from 4-7pm with Hayes, Noodles and the O-Dog as they talk Leafs, sports and pretty much everything that catches their attention.
    Plus catch TSN Hockey analyst Ray Ferraro every day at 5pm with the boys. Find out what it means to be a  “Grit Grinder”; get some hot takes from “Gerry’s Percentages”; and stay up to date on the future of the Leafs.
    Know this – your drive home just got a lot more fun”

    So, 2 mentions of the leafs, a hockey guest, a stupid comedy bit and no other sport…

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    @Gary M – fair point, i didn’t realize that.

    I think I’m just bothered that a guy who was as important to the industry as Bob, as a guy who listeners clearly have deep long running connection with, wasn’t allowed to leave on something closer to his own terms. I know some people brought up that very few people do and brought up examples of Jerry Howarth and Bob Cole – but Jerry Howarth was sick and missing games, and Bob Cole is in his 80s. Bob is 67 – certainly passed his prime, but still getting the job done when it comes to ratings etc.

    If cost cutting was needed – how about letting go of a couple of the seemingly hundreds of NHL analysts they had instead?

    The Fan 590 is basically one of my oldest habits, after years and years of listening (mostly due to Bob and Jays play by play) it’s just what I put on when I get in the car, or what I think to check first if I want to hear sports talk. I feel like that’s such a big thing in radio, and a big part of why TSN never has made much inroads. But the way they handled this Bob thing – letting him go when his best before date wasn’t up (might be approaching, but not up) it’s really broken the habit for me. Firing Bob out of the blue in a cost cutting move is just a total lack of respect for the listener. They’ve lost whatever sense of habit or ‘loyalty’ they built up with me over the years.

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    Sperk 3 weeks ago

    @donny well said! You’d think this would be a great opportunity to replace Bob with a generalist as opposed to a hockey person to perhaps appeal to a different market of fans who like multiple sports and give an alternative to Overdrive. But the NHL/Rogers contract looms and I am sure they want to maximize and get the most bang for their buck by having a hockey person in Bob’s chair setting up that evening’s games (ala Tim & Sid)

    @Gary M couldn’t agree more. Bob got turfed because he made too much for radio. Radio is in the same place newspapers were about 10 years ago as podcasts are taking their market way and its audience is getting older. Hopefully, they come up with a better survival strategy than the papers did. As mentioned above there may be an opportunity in becoming more diverse (in terms of subject or demographic) to appeal to a different audience but I think the hockey-first mentality may prevent that

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    Glen Lewis 3 weeks ago

    Of course I am not happy with the outcome from last week but don’t any of you worry about Bob having nothing to do. Afterall he still has thw Winery and a Production Company not to mention alot of Golf courses just waiting for him to show up or he could go on the Pro tour next year.

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    Of course I am not happy with the outcome from last week but don’t any of you worry about Bob having nothing to do. Afterall he still has thw Winery and a Production Company not to mention alot of Golf courses just waiting for him to show up or he could go on the Pro tour next year

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    As an aside, I would just like to comment on the volume and speedy posting of comments on this topic.

    While the event is a sad one for me; seeing the high level of participation as it happens, takes me back to the earlier days of this site. While I understand the moderator’s rationale for imposing a delay before publishing comments pending a review; the natural ebb and flow of the discourse was lost. I hope this return to the way it used to be continues.

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    Denial 3 weeks ago

    I am not an insider. I am not even an outsider. But here’s my take:

    I don’t think this has anything (much) to do with ratings or Bob’s influence in the market. Yes, it was tedious to listen to Bob talk about the buffet at Caesers, the dip at his Super Bowl party, some conversation he had with Beeston Before the Common Era, and so on. I also believe that even Bob was aware that it was tedious, but did it anyway because it was amusing. Besides, Bob is nothing if not a pragmatist, and he’d always bring the topic back to sports eventually. Sometimes I believe he would even self-regulate and compensate for his indulgences by having a strong finish. Kind of like balancing the karmic scales. Or just not giving his bosses too much ammo to work with.

    We all know that Bob has been loaded and ready to blast off on management for…what, 15 years? I wonder if, once he found out about the impending layoffs, he was prepared to go on the air and use Rogers as target practice — and basically air out years and years of grievances. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bob gave them an ultimatum, and they pushed back. A million dollars coming out the severance bucket at Rogers is nothing. And the PR hit? Not with this town buzzing about the Raptors and excited about the Leafs (I’m old enough to remember the Ihnacak brothers — you millennials do NOT know what Leaf pain is, and I envy you for that). Audiences will adapt, and quickly.

    My other theory, is that the guys in short pants (or at least who wear baseball caps backwards) urged Bob to do more interviews, and give up some of the air time to folks who at least pretend to care about the mundane business of actual sports events. I mean, nobody expected Bob to watch all the games, but he went out of his way to let people know that he couldn’t care less, and it was kind of annoying. You were never quite sure sometimes if Bob was mocking his bosses or his audience…probably both.

    At least this means we don’t have to listen to John Shannon talk about some prehistoric broadcast or the Calgary Flames. Doesn’t it? Right?

    Right?

    Echo….

    PINCH HITTING FOR PEDRO BORBON, MANNY MOTA…MOTA…

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    The day PTS went to headsets from the classic and better sounding traditional mic–and McCown said how he liked the new set-up because he could now lean back–was the beginning of the end for his radio/t.v. career. Maybe a 500 watt station that reaches all the way across the street otherwise forget it.
    Why? Because he got too comfortable and let his professional guard down. As a result, he said one thing too many. Surely industry people know this but, understandably, are reticent to speak up. Don’t believe me? Go ask Joey Vendetta, he had a ringside seat. Just sayin’.
    I am not an industry type in any way, just a humble observer of the local sports landscape.
    TSM is an important and unique Toronto sports information and comment site because, in my view, it is not cloistered and beholden to the powers that be, i.e., those who gave Bob the old ejector seat routine.
    Long live TSM!

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    The day PTS went to headsets from the classic and better sounding traditional mic–and McCown said how he liked the new set-up because he could now lean back–was the beginning of the end for his radio/t.v. career. Maybe a 500 watt station that reaches all the way across the street otherwise forget it.
    Why? Because he got too comfortable and let his professional guard down. As a result, he said one thing too many. Surely industry people know this but, understandably, are reticent to speak up. Don’t believe me? Go ask Joey Vendetta, he had a ringside seat. Just sayin’.
    I am not an industry type in any way, just a humble observer of the local sports landscape.
    TSM is an important and unique Toronto sports information and comment site because, in my view, it is not cloistered and beholden to the powers that be, i.e., those who gave Bob the old ejector seat routine.
    Long live TSM!

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    Gary M 3 weeks ago

    Daniel, I’m not sure they could afford the cost of your loyalty anymore. Reality of the times.

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    Gary M 3 weeks ago

    Denial, that was great. Remarkable command of the rhythms of the Bob McCown PTS.

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    Pants Go Brown 3 weeks ago

    I had high hopes for Blair on PTS. Took only two shows for him to start interviewing athletes. Total waste of time. Too many ‘we’re here to play, giving 100%, chip away.’ Total garbage.

    Whatever Bob’s transgressions are, he remains head and shoulders above anyone who takes over his seat.

    Big, big loss and dumb, dumb move by Fan/Sportsnet/Rogers

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    Totally agree with you about the athletes. If this is to become a regular habit, I will be hitting the Mute button.

    It’s still early days and I doubt that Blair will be the permanent host. I’m expecting to see other “tryouts” as we approach the Fall season.

    One thing I did find refreshing was yesterday’s Roundtable. Elliotte Friedman and Ashley Docking made for a nice change. My real observation however, is the “revelation” that you can do a show where the participants actually listen to each other; as opposed to interrupting, talking over and insulting the others’ opinions. Blair and Deitsch just sat back at times andlistened. This, along with the absence of repeating what you say, laughing alone at your own comments and always defending the NHL; made for a good listen.

    John and Joey…you were not missed!

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    Bummed Out 1 week ago

    I’ve been listening to the Fan since Marsden and Landry in the morning. Their line up used to be strong throughout the day. Of course, Bob, love him or hate him, was the crown jewel. Their morning shows never seemed to stabilize since Marsden and Landry. Can you remember the Andrew Crystal experiment (what a train wreck). I actually thought they had a good combo recently with Brady and Price. But since Price was unceremoniously let go it has been unlistenable. Ashley Docking knows her stuff but the chemistry between the three of them is terrible. It’s basic Brady staring how much older he is than Ashley via his 80s references, Ashley reminding him of how young she is and Hugh pretending he is hip to Ashley’s tastes. Just doesn’t work. 
    As for PTS it was the only must listen radio it had. John Shannon is just a hack. His opinion beyond hockey is irrelevant. In fact, his hockey opinions are irrelevant. How he vacate an “insider” is beyond me. I think connections in the biz got him that role. Thank god for Brunt and now Deitsch. At least their breadth of knowledge is sufficient and insightful. Bob had great guests. I particularly enjoyed the weekly interviews with Bob Ryan and most recently Brian Burke. I’m not sure what people like about “Overdrive “ on TSN, to me it is unlistenable unless all you care about is hockey. Their insight on anything other than hockey is useless. I know Bob gets a lot of slack for not talking more hockey or always ripping on it, but frankly not all Canadians are hockey starved. There is a demand for other sports, in particular basketball. Bob at least satiated that thirst for me. As far as I’m concerned there is absolutely no point in listening to 590 anymore except for the times Brunt is on. I dropped the morning show for TSN with Lansberg and Colliacovo and have actually found them to be a good team. Their guests are top notch too. I think only Tim and Sid can save 590 from a ratings catastrophe. The mid-day millennial douche bags have to go. It’s three hours of dead air. 
    I hope Bob somehow finds his way back to the airwaves or podcast. He is a true pro who understands that there is more to sports than just stats and game action. I thoroughly enjoyed his business angle to sports and giving equal time to all sports if not more time to relevant stories (ie. Raptors last few years and Blue Jays a few years back. ) whatever Bob does I wish him the best. As for 590, I’m done with it. Other than live games, my radio dial won’t go there again. 

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    Bring back Bob McCown. All the others are pretenders to the throne though some made great guests. His commentary
    was without equal.