Cross Country Checkup

Is the NHL broadcast deal with Rogers good for hockey and Canadians?

Blockbuster NHL deal: Is the era of Saturday night hockey in front of the TV on its way out?  Rogers has scooped a deal to become the exclusive purveyor of NHL hockey to Canadians ...not only on TVs, but on cellphones, computers, game consoles and any other technologies that would work. Is the deal good for hockey and for Canadians?With...
Blockbuster NHL deal: Is the era of Saturday night hockey in front of the TV on its way out?  Rogers has scooped a deal to become the exclusive purveyor of NHL hockey to Canadians ...not only on TVs, but on cellphones, computers, game consoles and any other technologies that would work.

Is the deal good for hockey and for Canadians?

With guest host Andrew Nichols



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Introduction

It would not be an exaggeration to say that many Canadians this week from sports fans, to the media, to the business community were astonished to learn that the NHL had signed a $5.2-billion dollar deal with a single media company -- Rogers -- handing over full Canadian rights to carry and distribute all the games for the next 12 years. It would also not be an exaggeration to say many at CBC were stunned at the news, since until now CBC held the rights for roughly a third of the cost that Rogers will start paying. And those costs will rise over the course of the twelve year deal to five hundred million dollars a year - five times what CBC paid.

This deal assembled in just five days is bigger than any before between the NHL and a broadcaster. It's also the first time a major league has opted to go with a single media source to distribute all its games. Many thought the deal the National Football League negotiated in the US would become a model for other sports, where they split their games equally between three major broadcasters. Some are wondering if the new NHL deal gives too much power to one broadcaster, that it could potentially create problems for the NHL down the road if other broadcasters learn to live without hockey and refuse to compete in the future.

What impact will this deal have on hockey? Will more people watch? Will they watch on the myriad of new platforms beyond TV, such as computers, tablets, cellphones, game consoles and more? To succeed, Rogers has to not only attract viewers and participants, but advertisers keen to pay to reach those audiences. How will the broadening of platforms affect the ability of advertisers to reach their audiences and their williness to pay to do so? If there will be many more games distributed to different venues by several different methods -- broadcast, streamed online, and on cable, does it make a difference that the originating company is a cable provider?

The deal guarantees the NHL a gusher of cash bigger than ever before. What will this money do for the game? Will it bring stability to a sport that has stumbled from lockout to lockout over the division of revenues. Aside from making the NHL and the team owners richer, some suggest it will kill the hopes that Canadian cities might be able to snag the financially ailing US teams. They say the infusion of new money will mean the league can bolster the failing teams in the US and they'll be less likely to move to Canada in search of fans who are more than eager to pay to go to games.

Perhaps more importantly to most hockey fans, what impact will the deal have on the way Canadians experience hockey? Is Saturday night hockey gathered around the TV on its way out? We already know there has been a growing movement onto other platforms such as computers, cellphones, tablets, and game consoles. Do people really want to watch a hockey game on their cellphone? As hockey spreads out onto other platforms and through all days of the week, will it become less of a community experience? Or, will the growing use of social media contribute to a different kind of live interactive community, as people Tweet their responses to one -another during games? How do you like your hockey: live, with friends, on TV, online or through an ear phone?

Our question today: "Is the NHL broadcast deal with Rogers good for hockey and for Canadians?"

I'm Andrew Nichols ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius XM, satellite radio channel 169 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.


Guests



  • Steve Maich
    Senior VP and General Manager of Rogers Publishing
    Twitter: @stevemaich


  • Harnarayan Singh
    Host and play-by-play commentator for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi broadcasts
    Twitter: @IceSinghHNIC


  • Andrew Podnieks
    Author of many books about hockey including Players: The Ultimate A-Z Guide of Everyone Who Has Ever Played in the NHL and The Complete Hockey Dictionary.





Links

CBC.ca

National Post

Globe and Mail

Macleans

Business Insider




Twitter & E-Mail


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