Saturday, August 12, 2006



Well, here's a link to an article by William Houston in the Globe and Mail about preliminary discussions in the works over the NHL broadcasting rights in Canada.

Apparently CTV wants to offer 140 million a year over ten years, beginning in 2008. And this is for the whole shebang: English and French broadcast rights for over-the-air and cable. Plus they want to stream games over the Internet, too. About time.

If I were CBC I'd be pretty worried if this is what CTV is up to. CBC pays only $65 million for the rights to Hockey Night in Canada and the Stanley Cup playoffs. Now, granted, this is only for the over-the-air rights. TSN holds the cable rights dirt-cheap for something like $15 mil a year, and RDS has the French rights, so if you include all those it comes to a grand total of 92 million dollars. So if CTV bids for the whole thing, at $140 mil a year, that's a ridiculous amount of money. Gary Bettman will be laughing.

William Houston makes it sound as if the CBC needs to come up with $140 million a year, but the truth is that the situation isn't quite so dire. The fact is the CBC doesn't need to pony up all $140 mil. They will need to pony up more money than what they paid before - something like 85 or 90 mil for their portion of the over-the-air rights, and then hope that someone else bids for the cable package and the French rights to get past that $140 million figure that CTV is offering. The CBC would probably need to partner up with Global or Rogers Sportsnet, or somebody, just to be competitive with CTV. But who wants to pay this outrageous sum of money?! Like heck will Rogers Sportsnet be interested in paying $50 million for the national cable rights to the NHL, when they can show the Raptors and the Blue Jays dirt-cheap instead! And CTV isn't interested in splitting the rights with the CBC anymore, they want the whole thing! I think the CBC is screwed. They can kiss all their hockey profits goodbye.

You know what, I think the CTV network is bent on world domination. It's not enough for these fools to do what they've already done to the competition in this country; it's not enough to be Number One. No, they want to go one step further and destroy everyone. They've already robbed Global TV of all of its ratings already, and then they bought out CHUM and that took care of Citytv. Now they're after the one thing left, the one final prize of them all: the Stanley Cup.

The only night of the week that CTV doesn't win is Saturday nights during the hockey season. CBC gets its best ratings when it shows hockey. In fact, the Cup final game between Edmonton and Carolina got something like five million or so viewers in this country. Pretty huge numbers.

So of course CTV is jealous. They aren't content to keep on clobbering the competition with all the usual shows they have every other night of the week. They want to steal Hockey Night in Canada and win Saturday nights, too, and you know what this means folks: the CBC will be destroyed. Who's going to watch the CBC if they don't have hockey anymore? All their viewers will leave!

As an aside, grabbing hockey would also help CTV destroy Global again; Saturday's late games would certainly clobber Saturday Night Live. But CBC would be hurt the most.

You know, the CBC is in bad enough shape right now with its programming. Their best entertainment shows like SCTV and Kids in the Hall left the air long ago, and even their kids shows are a joke nowadays. They even cancelled Mr. Dressup. Now they're losing their hold on all the sports. They've already lost the Olympic Games to CTV/TSN and even lost curling to these guys! I wouldn't be surprised if the entire CFL deal goes to CTV, too, one of these days. If CBC loses Hockey Night in Canada, what's left to watch? George Stroumboulopoulos?! Disney movies? The CBC lineup will look much like the one that was served up when the hockey lockout was on: a bad joke. I shudder to think of what will happen if they lose hockey. They might as well shut the CBC down, no one would miss these guys.


The thing I am personally curious about is why is CTV doing this? Why are they so hell-bent on wasting money pursuing the NHL?! It sure sounds like this is going to break the bank. True, the CBC was making a lot of money on NHL games, but they only paid $65 mil a year. $140 million is a ridiculous sum of money. And it is not as if CTV doesn't have hockey rights already; they have the cable rights for TSN, for only $15 mil a year! And that even includes the Cup playoffs! If CTV were just going after the cable rights again, they would only have to pay, oh, maybe $30 or $40 million. But this is a hundred million extra freaking dollars they want to pay, on top of the fortune they spent to grab the Olympics.

This really makes no sense. I know hockey is popular in this country and gets good numbers, but this looks like a total waste of money. A hundred million dollars a year down the tubes, for a sport you already show on TSN for $15 million a year. This is STUPID, what CTV is doing.

They don't need hockey on CTV, in fact they're killing everyone without hockey! In fact they've been the number one network in this country without hockey for thirty freaking years or however long it has been... it seems like forever. They actually had national rights for NHL games for a couple of years in the mid-1980s, announced by Dan Kelly, and even carried the Stanley Cup Finals, but the ratings were so bad that they cancelled it! CTV has done just fine without the NHL. The only serious challenge they received was from Global back in the Seinfeld/Friends days, and that was another network that didn't have any national NHL games on it. Maybe they think they can use Hockey Night in Canada as a platform to promote the other shows on the CTV lineup, like Desperate Housewives, Lost, C.S.I. and all the rest of them. But they don't need to do that, those shows are already huge hits! I don't know what they're thinking, offering all this money for the NHL.

And on top of this, too, they're going to have to shell out money for the announcers, although these broadcasters' salaries are going to be chump change compared to the ridiculous amount of rights fees CTV plans to pay. Ron MacLean, Don Cherry and the rest of them are going to be very rich after they get hired by CTV for their new hockey package, and don't worry, CTV will have to hire them. If they don't , there will be a revolution in this country.

You know, sports is not exactly a property that makes anyone any money these days. You look at all these American networks and all the money they waste on the rights to all of these sporting events. These networks all complain all the time about how much money they lose on the Olympics, or the NFL! Yet they keep on wasting their money, buying rights to sporting events.

About the only reason a network has to buy sporting events like the NFL is so they can grab a captive audience of sports-crazy viewers; then they can show promos for all the rest of the shows and build an audience. And that's actually a pretty good reason for buying sports. That's what FOX did, they bought the NFL rights because they wanted to build up their network and become a major player. And it worked; a bunch of affiliates switched to FOX from CBS back in 1994, all because FOX had grabbed the NFL games.

That's why NBC was so eager to get NFL games back; they're in fourth place! Buying the rights to a popular sport like the NFL is a good move for NBC to make, because you can use these games as a platform to run lots of promos for all your shows, and build your network back up. But the rights cost a fortune, so unless you're making money off your sports TV deal (like CBC was) or unless you're trying to build up or rebuild a network, sports rights are a total waste of money.

That's what I don't understand about what CTV is doing. They are spending money like no tomorrow on sports, and I'm convinced these are going to be money losers! They already grabbed the Olympics and spent a fortune to get them! Now they want to pay 1.4 billion over 10 years for the NHL?! That is absolutely ridiculous. CTV doesn't need Hockey Night in Canada. If anyone else needs the NHL besides the CBC, frankly, you would think it would be Global TV! You'd think it would be them mounting some sort of bid! Their ratings are in the tank and they could certainly use NHL games to build an audience, and run promos for House and Survivor and all these other shows during the Stanley Cup. Then they can build their network up again. But Global doesn't need the NHL, they know the rights cost an arm and a leg. They already have the NFL.

I just don't see why CTV needs the NHL; they're loaded with hits and don't need to waste their money on sports. Maybe they're still bent on destroying Global, maybe they want to head them off at the pass. Who knows.

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