New TVA, Rogers TV deals will change the way we watch the NHL
Gary Bettman, Commissioner, NHL (left) and Nadir Mohamed, President and CEO, Rogers Communications during a press conference at the Rogers Campus in downtown Toronto on Tuesday. NHL and Rogers Communications announced a national multimedia rights agreement. Rogers also secured a multi-year sub-licensing agreement with CBC and TVA Sports. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/Toronto Sun)
Saturday nights aren’t going to be the same for NHL fans in Canada.
In an historic broadcast agreement between the league and Rogers Communications and its flagship Rogers Sportsnet network, it looks like Canadians are going to have a lot more choice starting next season when it comes to their Saturday night buffet of NHL offerings.
CBC’s iconic Hockey Night in Canada will survive in what NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called a “landmark agreement,” and there will be more games available across Rogers’ other channels and platforms.
“If there are four or five games on in Canada, you can flip from one game to another. That’s why we’re saying this is so pro-fan,” Bettman said.
For the next four years, HNIC will come under the financial and editorial control of Rogers Communications, which leads to the question on many hockey fans minds: What’s going to happen to Don Cherry and Coach’s Corner?
Keith Pelley, president of Rogers Sportsnet and one of the architects of the deal, was vague about how Cherry might fit into the new mix.
“This is Day 1 of a 12-year partnership, but it is a partnership with the National Hockey League and with CBC,” Pelley said. “Over the next months and years we will evaluate all facets of our production and our programming.”
But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made it sound like Cherry will still have a prominent role in the NHL universe.
“Don Cherry is a great talent and a good friend and obviously it’s somebody who we take very seriously as part of the game and ultimately it’s something we’ll discuss,” he said, “but I didn’t want anybody to take Keith’s very well said comment to somehow represent the sword of Damocles, because I don’t think it was that.”
The Stanley Cup final will continue to be shown on CBC for the next four years.
This deal is historic in that it marks the first time one of North America’s big four sports leagues has granted national broadcast rights to one company on a long-term basis.
The deal is worth $5.2 billion over 12 years. Rogers will pay the NHL an upfront payment of $150 million over the first two years of the deal. Annual payments will start at $300 million the first year up to more than $500 million in the final year.
That’s more than double what the NHL is receiving from NBC in the 10-year deal it struck with the American broadcaster in 2011.
It means Canada -- with seven of 30 NHL teams -- is accounting for about 70 percent of the NHL’s television revenue.
The new deal also represents a doubling of the revenue from Canadian television rights from about $190 million a season in the old deal with TSN, RDS and CBC to $433 million a season.
It’s pretty remarkable Canadian teams are now driving a significant amount of growth in NHL revenue. It doesn’t seem that long ago we had the currency assistant program and there were grave concerns over the future of the Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
The idea of a return of teams to Winnipeg and Quebec, who had fled south of the border, seemed like a ridiculous idea.
What’s not clear is exactly how Canadians will consume their NHL hockey fix over the course of this deal or how Rogers will justify paying such a huge amount for the rights.
Will there be pick-and-pay options down the road? Probably.
In the meantime, an example of what last Saturday night would have looked like under the Rogers’ umbrella, there would have been 10 different NHL games telecast across the various Rogers channels (City, the regional Sportsnet channels, SN360), the CBC, and TVA (TVA Sports).
The deal also includes all multi-media rights.
Who knows how Canadians will consume their NHL hockey 10 or 12 years from now? It could be on some platform or device that doesn’t even exist right now.
Ten years ago, the idea of watching a hockey game on your phone or on a tablet, well, that’s all it was in somebody’s mind, an idea.