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02-21-2013, 12:19 AM
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I suspect Bell will make a hard pitch to try and acquire the Saturday night package. Whether or not they would put it on CTV is another story, but I believe (as I hardly watch CTV) Saturday night is the night they burn off their Cancon for the week with a full lineup of Canadian shows. So bumping these shows off for hockey wouldn't be a big issue.

I also wonder whether there will be a dark horse that comes in and tries to pick up some games? I know Shaw Media holds a license for a sports channel that they weren't intending to launch at this time. I would gather they would launch it if they were to buy the rights to the NHL package.

I also wonder if someone might buy a certain package and then resell those games to someone? I believe this is how CTV had hockey during the mid-80s. I believe Labatt Breweries had bought the rights to a national Sunday night game and then resold the games to CTV. Also, TSN had done this with CBC for some CFL games in the past. Then again, I wonder if the NHL would even entertain such a deal?

My take is that you will see CBC retain the Saturday night package. I also suspect they will retain the entire Stanley Cup Finals unless Bell makes a promise to show the games on CTV (which they would never do as their US programming is too precious to bump for sports as is evident by not showing the World Series or I believe the Rose Bowl anymore). TSN will retain their Wednesday night package.

The only change that will be seen is I have a feeling Sportsnet will be given some sort of national package. However, I suspect it might be a no Canadian teams matchup agreement. Sportsnet can show one game per week involving two US based teams. Either that or you might see the NHL relax their local broadcasting rules and allow Sportsnet to show all their local broadcasts (TSN too with the Leafs, Habs and Jets) nationally except for blacking them out in other teams' local markets. So instead of me being in Alberta only getting Oilers and Flames local games (as I am outside of the 70 mile local radius the NHL says is local territory), I would be able to get Jets, Habs, Canucks, Senators and Leafs local games as well.

I also suspect that the Winter Classic and All-Star game will be a shared property like the Super Bowl is. You will see those games rotated between CBC, TSN/CTV and Sportsnet. Since for some reason the Winter Classic is a prized property (though the appeal of outdoor hockey died following the first Heritage Classic in Edmonton in my mind), you would think the NHL would be smart and take a page from the NFL.

On the NFL vein, I do wonder whether the NHL would ever split national broadcast rights between the Eastern and Western Conferences? Meaning that CBC could retain HNIC but only show Eastern Conference games and CTV/TSN would have Saturday nights but could only show the Western Conference. Granted, unlike the NFL, there are not enough teams spread between all time zones in the Western Conference to make this plausible. The only way that this would be a good idea is if TSN (or CTV) carried Red Wings games on Saturday night. This would be the only way they would hit the Eastern Time Zone prime time. Are the Oilers, Flames and Canucks valuable enough that TSN would be willing to do this? For that matter would CBC be willing to lose those teams?

Are the French language rights up at the same time? If so, I could see SRC making a heated pitch for the French language Saturday nights and playoffs, especially if CBC loses HNIC. In Quebec, I'm not sure whether it would make any huge difference whether the games are on RDS or SRC. By that I mean it would be the same advertisers etc. However, SRC is a much larger potential audience. Despite not speaking a word of French, my Dad loyally watches the Habs on RDS and watched them on SRC too. I would assume that there are tons of Anglophone Habs fans nationwide that do the same. Bringing back La Soiree du Hockey on SRC would mean greater sponsorship deals. Even if you don't speak French, Coca-Cola is still Coca-Cola. Having it on SRC which every Canadian with a television in theory has access to is a much larger market than RDS which on many cable systems is difficult to receive and may be avoided if it means you have to take other French channels as well. It would be interesting to see what the ratings outside Quebec are like for the SRC games of old compared with the RDS games now.

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