To no one’s surprise, the Winnipeg Jets have reportedly signed a deal with Bell Media for their broadcast rights. Bell has been looking for ways to grow TSN Radio and putting the Jets on AM 1290 fits into that plan. For TSN, this is their third regional sports deal. They previously had regional rights to the Toronto Maple Leafs and they currently hold English-language regional rights to the Montreal Canadiens. Bell Radio holds rights to Montreal, the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks. TSN will create a sub-feed for the Jets television territory which will likely include Manitoba, Saskatchewan and parts of Northern Ontario.
While the news may look like a blow to Rogers Sportsnet, they were always considered underdogs in the bidding for several reasons. One factor was the lack of room for the Jets on Sportsnet. Outside of airing a Manitoba sub-feed, Rogers largely lacked the infrastructure to carry the team. And since it’s possible that several team’s TV territories may overlap the Jets’ broadcast market, this would make it difficult to balance network schedules. The real blow is to Corus Radio’s CJOB. CJOB is the longtime home of the Manitoba Moose and carried the Winnipeg Jets in the past. For Corus, it was a deal where they lacked a partner and didn’t have the dollars to make up for that.
There has not been any official announcements when it comes to talent for the Jets’ broadcast team but it’s widely believed that TSN’s Rod Black will be involved somehow. Black is a native of Winnipeg. There’s also a good chance that former Jets voice Curt Keilback may be involved. Keilback had a sour exit with CJOB in the past, but with them out of the running, that may re-open the door for his return. Keilback was a fan favorite and so far, it appears that the Jets are following the fans’ wishes to bring back the past and Keilback fits right in with that strategy.