Rogers buys exclusive NHL broadcast rights

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Provided (seventwentysk via Flickr Creative Commons)
Provided (seventwentysk via Flickr Creative Commons)

A $5.2 billion deal has secured Rogers as the exclusive broadcasters of the NHL for the next 12 years. CBC has a sub-licensing arrangement with Rogers, allowing them to broadcast select NHL games. TSN, the primary Canadian sports network rival , on the other hand, was simply shut out of the November deal.

With NHL hockey off the table, TSN will no doubt have to put more resources into covering other professional sports leagues, such as the CFL and NFL. With hockey being the primary market in Canada, this deal may severely cripple the network. TSN will remain the primary broadcaster of Canadian Football. This is a small consolation considering that, in the big picture, losing hockey could cost them more than dollars.

Losing NHL hockey will no doubt steer fans away from TSN’s quality coverage, but key broadcasters from TSN may start to peel away and join the Rogers team. Esteemed hockey analysts such as Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and James Duthie are staying loyal for now, but one has to consider that these fellas will be in high demand, as Rogers’ need for such personalities will expand greatly.

It wouldn’t be the first time solid TSN sportscasters jumped ship. The notorious Pierre McGuire left to join NBC for a significant pay raise and even the beloved Jay [Onrait] and Dan [O’Toole] headed for greener pastures with the FOX network. By getting shut out of an NHL deal, TSN could be facing a mass exodus of anchors.

TSN’s shining light may still be on the rink, however. The network maintains the rights to the World Junior Hockey Championships, and with the holiday season upon us, we can at least look forward to that. The tournament starts on Boxing Day and is hosted in Malmö, Sweden. The juniors’ passionate display of effort and intensity may just be a saving grace for a network that’s hockey future is dimly lit.

CBC’s famed Saturday night program, Hockey Night in Canada, is also at risk due to the major television deal. Under the new agreement, Hockey Night in Canada will remain CBC’s for at least four years. It’s future following that remains unknown. Hockey Night in Canada has been a major contributor to the CBC’s revenue since it first aired in 1952.

With the new sub-licensing agreement, Hockey Night in Canada will no doubt start to lose its shine. As it stands now, the program gets priority Canadian games on Saturday night. With the new arrangement, Rogers will determine which games air on CBC.

The NHL and Rogers are painting this deal as a benefit for the fans. However, the lack of variety could be an issue for many living in Canada. Another example of Rogers’ dominance in the sports broadcasting world is the company’s purchase of another major network, The Score. Rogers scooped up the rival media outlet for $172 million and rebranded it “Sportsnet 360.”

With its summer acquisition of The Score and recent move to exclusively broadcast the NHL, Rogers can certainly be seen as the big winner in 2013. TSN is facing an uphill battle in 2014. They may be fighting to hang on to their experts, and they will be looking for quality content to fill the gap left by the NHL.