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Category Archives: TSN

The Potential Fallout From The MLSE Deal

The new Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment will be a powerhouse in the sports media world. The most powerful media companies in Canada will now be joined at the hip. It’s hard to say how this will change things in Toronto and Canada but I’m gonna put a few theories out there on how it might affect various parties.

THE POTENTIAL JOINT BID FOR NHL RIGHTS

For Rogers, it makes all the sense in the world to do a joint bid on NHL rights but does Bell want to help out their largest competitor? True, they will now be long-term financial partners, but is it worth it to help each other out? The short answer appears to be yes. A potential bid helps Sportsnet greatly, but if it means that CTV and TSN are virtually guaranteed NHL rights, then Bell should work with them. It would pretty much lock out CBC and give the companies a strangle hold on the sports market.

CBC

The CBC might be the group most impacted by this deal. Having Rogers and Bell come together might make it very difficult for Hockey Night in Canada to continue. If the two parties bid together on national rights, CBC might be done. CBC’s only hope might be for the league to take bids on over the air and cable rights separately. Another possibility is for the league to sign a deal with CBC before anyone else gets a chance to make a bid. That happened last time around, but I find it hard to believe that the league will pass up the potential to make some serious cash. A Rogers/Bell bid would certainly break the bank open. Another option, and it is a wildcard, is to woo Rogers and get them on board with CBC. Sportsnet is loaded with former CBC execs and it’s hard to predict if the folks at Sportsnet are essentially ready to cede the national sports market to TSN. Regardless, it doesnt look good for CBC. The tradition might be coming to an end.

TSN & CTV

This deal only strengthens TSN. A joint bid by CTV, TSN and Sportsnet pretty much locks them in, assuming it gets to that point. TSN would also likely get the most games out of that deal. TSN is already the dominant sports network, and this helps assure that to continue. There’s also the strong possibility that TSN may gain some regional rights in the future. TSN has been aggressive in this market, and TSN has aired the Leafs regionally in the past.

For CTV, this gives them the potential to dominate the Canadian TV market even more than they do today. The thought of the playoffs on CTV surely makes CTV executives drool. True, they would have some scheduling issues, but a joint bid would likely alleviate most of those issues. As long as they get the bulk of the playoffs and a weekly game, it’s a big win for their network schedule.

SPORTSNET

This is where things begin to get interesting. Maple Leafs games are the jewel of Sportsnet Ontario. Sportsnet has been ultra aggressive the last few months, adding talent and re-positioning themselves as a legitimate competitor to TSN. If everything goes just right, this deal should keep the Leafs on SNO long-term in some form. Additionally, a potential joint bid for NHL rights might be on the table. Sportsnet would likely be the secondary partner in any Rogers/Bell bid but any hockey programming is a good thing for them. A partnership with CBC looks good on paper but it’s hard to see how it works financially.

LEAFS TV & REAL SPORTS

One area of contention between the parties could be those regional rights. For Bell, they would gain little from Leafs games airing on SNO. They might want the games on a network where each party has a stake. So here comes Leafs TV to the rescue. Sure, Leafs TV lacks some distribution but it might be the fairest place for the Leafs games to air. It’s true that losing some or all Leafs games on SNO would be a blow to Rogers but Leafs TV needs a boost. Rogers might be willing to give up some games if they can gain a national package for Sportsnet. One thing to keep in mind is that Sportsnet’s Leafs rights deal still has some time left on it so don’t expect any changes in the short-term.

As far as the future Real Sports cable channel goes, that’s likely done. I’m not sure it has any future since it was largely being created to compete with TSN and Sportsnet. I suppose there’s still the possibility of it being green lighted but it’s not looking good at this point.

LEAFS RADIO RIGHTS

This is another potential issue since Rogers and Bell each have their own sports radio stations that are salivating to air Leaf games. Corus and AM 640 might as well pack it in now. Nobody expected them to retain the rights before and this pretty much seals that. Supposedly, Rogers Sportsnet 590 The Fan and TSN Radio 1050 will share the rights, splitting the games evenly. According to the Toronto Sports Media Blog, the NBA Raptors will do the same once their deal is up. That will certainly make things interesting but it its the fairest way to do it.

TIRED OF THE LEAFS YET?

The real negative out of this deal is likely for the fans. Prices will probably go up but even more, accusations of Toronto bias will only get stronger. It might be hard to take these companies as neutral parties since they will be directly benefitting from the Leafs. Besides that, the Leafs might get even more coverage on each network.

Personally, I think they will be able to be fairly neutral on the subject. Yes, the Leafs will dominate the media market, but it’s been that way for years. This deal won’t change that. Besides that, thanks to the internet, the place to find news and info for each team is much wider than ever before. If fans think a party is being biased, go get the info from someplace else. I don’t think the Leafs will be able to censor all parties in the media even if Brian Burke would prefer that.

Bottom line, this deal is all about the money and everyone involved stands to gain a lot except for the fans. The shareholders will love it, the suits will love it, the accountants will love it. The fans, on the other hand, might get the short end of the stick. Time will tell whether this deal pays off for long suffering Leaf fans everywhere.


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PR on Maple Leafs Sale to Bell & Rogers

I’ll have my thoughts on this deal a little later on but here’s the link to the Toronto Maple Leafs Press Releases on Rogers and Bell buying into Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment.. Bell, Rogers, OTPP and Larry Tanenbaum each have their own press releases. Additionally, the link takes you to a stream of the press conference.

Here are couple of financial highlights from the Rogers and Bell press releases. From Rogers –

Rogers’ net cash commitment, following a planned leveraged recapitalization of MLSE, will total approximately $533 million, representing a 37.5 percent equity interest in MLSE, and will be funded with cash on hand at closing. In a concurrent transaction, KSI Investments, owned by Larry Tanenbaum, will increase its current 20 percent ownership interest in MLSE to 25 percent.

From Bell –

Bell’s net cash commitment, following a planned leveraged recapitalization of MLSE, will total $398 million, representing a 28% equity interest in MLSE, and will be funded with cash on hand at closing. Through a co-investment arrangement with Bell, the BCE Master Trust Fund, an independent trust that holds and manages pension fund investments serving the pension obligations of BCE Group pension plan participants, will contribute $135 million toward the MLSE acquisition. The total investments by Bell and the BCE Master Trust Fund equal the 37.5% equity interest to be acquired by Rogers.

On top of that, CBC sent out its own statement on the matter –

“I would like to congratulate Bell, Rogers and Larry Tanenbaum on their deal announced today. To know the ownership of Canadian teams will be kept in Canadian hands is great news,” said Kirstine Stewart, executive vice-president CBC English Services. “Increasingly, sports rights deals are dependent on strong partnerships. We are proud of our partnerships with Rogers on the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2014 and with Bell as we prepare our joint Olympic 2014/2016 bid.”

 

 

Canada Ratings Watch

Here’s an update on Canadian NHL television ratings. I included a couple days from last week’s ratings watch to include RDS’s ratings and for comparison purposes. One interesting thing to note is that TSN2 nearly beat out TSN on Tuesday night. Clearly, two high profile teams along with Sidney Crosby helped buoy the ratings. Another factor is that a Calgary/Nashville matchup isn’t necessarily terrific for TV. These BBM ratings are sourced from the Remote Control Blog and BBM Canada.

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 26, 2011

RDS Pittsburgh/Montreal 913,000
CBC 7PM Regional (Pittsburgh/Montreal, Edmonton/Colorado, Winnipeg/Boston) 1,975,000
CBC 10 PM Vancouver/San Jose 1,115,000

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 27, 2011

Sportsnet Ontario Toronto/Anaheim 600,000

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 29, 2011

Sportsnet Pacific Columbus/Vancouver 472,000
TSN Nashville/Calgary 365,000
TSN2 Pittsburgh/NY Rangers 350,000

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 30, 2011

TSN Boston/Montreal 1,271,000
TSN Minnesota/Edmonton 561,000

SATURDAY DECEMBER 3, 2011

CBC 3:30 PM Montreal/Los Angeles 674,000
CBC 7 PM Regional (Toronto/Boston, Ottawa/Washington, New Jersey/Winnipeg) 2,093,000
CBC 10 PM Calgary/Edmonton 1,136,000

SUNDAY DECEMBER 4, 2011

Sportsnet Pacific Calgary/Vancouver 440,000

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in CBC, NHL, Ratings, RDS, Television, TSN

 

Matthew Barnaby Picked Up For DWI; Fired By ESPN

The woes for hockey analyst Matthew Barnaby continue. From WKBW

Erie County Sheriff’s Deputies Gene Nati and Brandon Stott responded to a 911 call of an SUV driving erratically without a front tire. This led to the discovery of a Black Porche Cayenne driving on the rim causing sparks. The vehicle had significant front end damage and was missing the driver’s side front tire. Deputy Nati initiated a stop of the vehicle.
The driver, Matthew T. Barnaby (38) of Clarence, was asked to perform some Standard Field Sobriety Tests. After failing multiple tests Mr. Barnaby was taken into custody for Driving While Intoxicated. Mr. Barnaby refused a breath test.
As a result of the refusal the deputies completed the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles form to initiate immediate revocation of Mr. Barnaby’s license. After processing he was released to the custody of his attorney’s with appearance tickets returnable to Town of Clarence Court.

This is Barnaby’s second run in with the law in under a year. He was sentenced to community service and counseling after an incident with his estranged wife. Since then, Barnaby’s appearances have been somewhat sporadic on TSN and ESPN. This might be the end for his formerly growing broadcasting career. Barnaby is a pretty good analyst but I don’t see how he’ll be sticking around after having multiple incidents.

UPDATE: Deadspin reports that Barnaby has been let go by ESPN. The Buffalo News reports that he might be deported to Canada.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in ESPN, NHL, Television, TSN

 

A Few Scribbles

Here’s a few scribbles on NHL ratings and business as the weekend comes closer.

RATINGS UPDATE

We have some TSN ratings for you in addition to my prior post. TSN PR man Greg McIssac reports that Wednesday’s Toronto/Boston matchup drew a strong 1.27 million viewers on average. That’s not a surprise as the Leafs ratings continue to soar. Add in an rival and you have a very good number.

There’s been plenty of Boston Bruins ratings that have been leaking out lately. Each one seems to set a new record and that streak continues. Fang’s Bites reports that NESN had a record November with the B’s averaging a 5.3 rating. That’s up from the previous high of 4.0 which was garnered this past March.

The Bruins aren’t the only team with some impressive numbers. The Buffalo Sabres are always near the top of the ratings heap and their numbers are only growing. Ironically, the Bruins were involved in this one too. Puck The Media has the details –

The Buffalo Sabres’ tilt with the Boston Bruins on Nov. 23 drew the highest television rating so far this season for telecasts on MSG. The divisional matchup posted a 12.1 rating and a 20 share regionally. Ratings for the telecast actually peaked at 14.9 during the shootout when Boston’s Benoit Pouliot beat Jhonas Enroth to seal a 4-3 victory for the Bruins.

“The matchup was arguably the most anticipated of the season,” said Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black. Our fans are awesome and we are very pleased and humbled by the fact that for the second straight month, the Buffalo Sabres’ television ratings on MSG continue to lead all US-based NHL teams.”

The 12.1 rating indicates that 12.1 percent of television-equipped households were tuned into the game at some point during the broadcast and the 20 share means 20 percent of households watching TV in the region Wednesday night were watching the game.

Last Wednesday’s ratings were the highest among the 19 Sabres games broadcast on MSG so far this season. The second-most viewed contest was the team’s home opener against Carolina on Oct. 14, which drew an 11.5 rating and 18 share regionally.

On average, MSG telecasts of Sabres games have earned an 8.81 rating regionally so far this season. The team posted the highest ratings in three years during the month October when telecasts drew an average rating of 8.3.

BLUE JACKETS GET A NEW REPORTER 

When John Michael was named the new radio voice of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, that left the Columbus Blue Jackets searching for a new reporter. With the NBA lockout coming towards an end, the Jackets and Fox Sports Ohio have made their choice. Natalie Taylor will join Fox’s coverage beginning on December 8. Taylor is somewhat familiar to Ohioans as she’s previously worked in Columbus and for FS Ohio. Additionally, Taylor does have hockey in her past. She spent two years as the Atlanta Thrashers sideline reporter on SportSouth.

FORBES NHL VALUES

One of the most controversial things to come out every year is Forbes’ NHL valuations. The latest have been released and Toronto continues to hold the number one spot. The New York Rangers, Montreal, Detroit and Boston round out the top five. For more insight on the rankings and the league’s financial growth, check out Puck Drunk Love’s interview with Forbes Sr. Editor Kurt Badenhausen.

NHL SEES STRONG SALES OVER HOLIDAY WEEKEND

The Thanksgiving weekend brought record sales to NHL.com and the NHL store. From NHL.com –

The League saw strong sales growth of its licensed product over the holiday shopping weekend (Nov. 26 -29), illustrating an increased fan demand.

North American retail sales are up 11 percent post Black Friday, while NHL team store and concessionaires are up 15 percent in per cap sales year-to-date. Products driving sales growth include NHL Video Games, specifically EA Sports NHL 11 (up 20 percent), 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic apparel (up 41 percent), women’s apparel (up 52 percent), men’s apparel (up 22 percent), and Franklin NHL street hockey equipment (up 32 percent).

The NHL has also once again registered record-setting merchandise sales at both the NHL Powered by Reebok Store and at Shop.NHL.com over the Thanksgiving weekend. NHL Powered by Reebok recorded its largest Black Friday sales figures in the four year history of the New York City store with a 7 percent increase over last year’s record-breaking sales. The record-setting Thanksgiving weekend generated additional momentum in sales figures for the store. For the full month of November, sales were up 16 percent this year compared to last, and overall store sales this year (Jan.-Nov. 2010) have increased 9 percent from 2009.

Shop.NHL.Com experienced its second-highest grossing sales day ever on Black Friday with a remarkable 153 percent increase for the day over 2009. The highest grossing sales day to date on Shop is still the day after the Chicago Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.   Remarkably, 50 percent of customers on Black Friday were new to Shop.NHL.com.

The top-five selling items on Shop.NHL.com from Black Friday through Cyber Monday were:

* Reebok Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 Winter Classic Premier Jersey
* Reebok New York Rangers Premier Third Jersey
* Reebok Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 NHL Winter Classic Hooded Sweatshirt
* Reebok Philadelphia Flyers Premier Home Jersey
* Warner Home Video Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin Great 8 DVD

SPONSORSHIP UPDATE

Finally, there’s some sponsorship news out there that I have Tweeted but I haven’t posted about them so here we go. First off, you’ve probably noticed all those ads and rink signage for “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” the new movie that will be released on December 21. The ads are part of a deal the league signed with Paramount Pictures. According to Variety, the league has long suited a film studio for a deal and it now has its wish.

And earlier this week, Visa Canada renewed its deal with the league. The new pact is for three years and makes Visa the official payment card of the NHL in Canada. While this is confusing, the deal doesn’t affect the league’s sponsorship with Discover in the US. The two companies have the same branding but can only use it for the country they are paying for, so don’t expect any Visa commercials on NBC and Versus anytime soon.

 

Canada Ratings Watch

Here’s an update on Canadian NHL television ratings. These BBM ratings are sourced from the Remote Control Blog and BBM Canada.

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 15, 2011

Sportsnet Ontario Toronto/Phoenix 739,000

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 16, 2011

TSN Carolina/Montreal 473,000
Sportsnet Pacific Chicago/Vancouver 336,000

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 19, 2011

CBC 3 PM Winnipeg/Philadelphia 632,000
CBC 7 PM Regional (Washington/Toronto, Montreal/NY Rangers) 2,079,000
CBC 10 PM Edmonton/Chicago 948,000
RDS Montreal/NY Rangers 782,000

MONDAY NOVEMBER 21, 2011

CBC NY Islanders/Pittsburgh 1,202,000

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 22, 2011

Sportsnet Ontario Toronto/Tampa 702,000

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 23, 2011

TSN Calgary/Detroit 499,000
Sportsnet Pacific Vancouver/Colorado 394,000

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 26, 2011

CBC 7PM Regional (Pittsburgh/Montreal, Edmonton/Colorado, Winnipeg/Boston) 1,975,000
CBC 10 PM Vancouver/San Jose 1,115,000

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 27, 2011

Sportsnet Ontario Toronto/Anaheim 600,000

Overall, a pretty solid couple of weeks for hockey in Canada. CBC held up well without the Maple Leafs this past Saturday. TSN is still struggling a little bit without the Leafs as the last three Wednesday broadcasts have failed to bring in over 500,000 viewers. This past Sunday’s Leafs game underperformed as it went up against the Grey Cup. Outside of that, the Leafs continue to draw very well.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in CBC, NHL, Ratings, RDS, Rogers Sportsnet, Television, TSN

 

Ratings Watch

Here’s a look at some NHL ratings.

CANADA

These BBM ratings are sourced from the Canadian Sports Media Blog.

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 8, 2011

Sportsnet Ontario Florida/Toronto 783,000 viewers

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 9, 2011

TSN NY Rangers/Ottawa 448,000

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2011

TSN Toronto/St. Louis 1,170,000

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 12, 2011

CBC Scotiabank Hockey Tonight 1,245,000
CBC 7 PM Regional (OTT/TOR, WPG/CBJ, MTL/NSH) 2,250,000
CBC 10 PM Calgary/Colorado 757,000

UNITED STATES – VERSUS

Unfortunately, the Versus game ratings were unavailable for this past week but judging by the post-game ratings, they probably weren’t all that impressive anyhow. These Nielsen ratings are sourced from The Voice of TV.

MONDAY NOVEMBER 7, 2011

9:30 PM NHL Live 66,000 41,000 A18-49
10:00 PM NHL Overtime 25,000 13,000

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 8, 2011

9:30 PM NHL Live 116,000 51,000
10:30 PM NHL Overtime 59,000 45,000

UNITED STATES – REGIONAL

We have some regional ratings from Boston and Buffalo. First up, from BostInnovation are some Bruins ratings –

Whatever the case, the network has recorded two of its highest regular season game ratings in the past few weeks, and they’ve done it without the studio show host that so many people came to associate with the Bruins over the past few years. A 5.2 household rating was earned for the November 7th matchup with the New York Islanders, and that number was bested by Tuesday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils, which did a 5.3 – good for third in the network’s regular-season history all-time.

Despite a slow start for the Bruins, NESN still has a 3.9 household rating on the season, which is a 46% increase over last season through the same number of games, according to Puck the Media.

NESN’S Thursday night broadcast against Columbus brought in big ratings. This comes from NESN PR guy Gary Roy’s twitter account  –

Another season best #Bruins rating on @NESN last night – 6.1 HH the new 3rd best reg season rating in NESN history #NESNTV

In case you are wondering, the 2nd best reg season rating inNESN history was a 6.2 HH on 3/18/10 vs. Pittsburgh #NESNTV

Sabres ratings come from Buffalo Business First

The Buffalo Sabres drew the highest local television ratings in the National Hockey League through the month of October and up 15.2 percent compared to the same month last year.

Sabres games broadcast on rightsholder MSG network averaged an 8.3 rating last month, the highest number in three years for the Buffalo market. That compares to a 7.2 rating in 2010-11 and a 6.7 rating to start the 2009-10 season,

The 8.3 average rating represents approximately 54,000 households in the Buffalo market throughout October and takes into account the two afternoon games the team played while in Europe to start the season. In primetime games on MSG, the Sabres telecasts averaged a 9.3 rating and approximately 60,000 viewing households. The team’s home opener against Carolina on Oct. 14 drew the largest audience, with an 11.5 rating and approximately 74,000 households.