Where job cuts loom as NHL inks $5.2 billion Canadian TV deal

The Canadian sports broadcasting talent landscape is set to shift with the announcement of the landmark hockey deal.
hockey coach

All roads for Canadian coverage of the NHL now lead to Rogers Communications as the exclusive rights holder for the next 12 years.

And that means jobs losses for rival broadcasters as Canada’s hockey broadcast map is redrawn with Tuesday’s $5.2 billion, 12-year deal between the NHL and the Canadian media giant.

“While this deal will result in job losses, the staffing impact would have been much greater had we lost hockey entirely, as CBC is still producing hockey,” CBC/Radio Canada CEO Hubert Lacroix said in an internal memo Tuesday after the landmark NHL TV deal was unveiled.

The CBC will continue to air Hockey Night in Canada games, but control of the iconic brand, and all TV revenues, will shift to Rogers as part of a sub-licensing deal to run initially for four years.

Also on the losing end from the NHL-Rogers deal is TSN, whose broadcast deal with the pro hockey league expires at the end of the current season, and RDS, which now sees TVA in Quebec become the official French language broadcaster for the NHL and take a lion’s share of Montreal Canadiens broadcasts aimed at Habs fans.

“We submitted a bid we believed was valuable for the NHL and appropriate for our business, but were ultimately outbid,” TSN-parent Bell Media said in a statement Tuesday.

Not all is lost at the Bell Media property, which has regional rights that leave TSN with 10 Toronto Maple Leafs games to air next season.

And TSN has, starting in 2015,  26 regional Leafs games to broadcast, and another deal for another 60 regional Winnipeg Jets games to broadcast through 2021.

But TSN, which relied on hockey to carry its brand through the winter until the Toronto Blue Jays fill its summer schedule, will otherwise be sidelined from TV hockey for the next dozen years.

That said, star hockey talent currently at TSN and the CBC – and their Twitter followers – is now welcome at Rogers Sportsnet, says Rogers Media president of broadcast Scott Moore.

“It’s early days, but I would expect if I check my Blackberry, there’s a bunch of people interested in having breakfast with me,”  he told Playback on Tuesday. “This creates an all-star team for us. We’ll be able to attract some of the best hockey talent in the industry.”

Moore said Rogers had bolstered its Sportsnet team for hockey coverage in recent years.

But the expansion of games and platforms to come with the blockbuster NHL deal means more talent will be recruited.

Rogers and the CBC will jointly work to air Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights.

“I’m very familiar with their staff. They have some terrific people there. And I would hope that we will be seeing a lot of their faces, not only on Saturday night, but maybe throughout the week,” Moore added.

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