Common questions from MLSE sale
The joint purchase of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment by Rogers Communications and Bell Canada puts the country's two largest telecom giants in control of its biggest sports empire.
The billion-dollar deal also raises many questions for sports fans, consumers and other media companies. Here's a stab at answering some of them, based on information gathered from Friday's press conference.
Will this new partnership between, Rogers and Bell, spread to interests outside of MLSE?
The new owners say you have to think about MLSE as a separate company from their broadcast interests. They say this deal will not have any impact on any of their other companies, and that competition will in fact be increased. Together they own MLSE, but that is the only place where they will act as one.
Rogers already owned the Toronto Blue Jays and the stadium where they play, the Rogers Centre. Does this deal have any impact on those things?
Rogers said many times that they are proud of their ownership of the Jays and will continue to run it as an independent sports organization. The Rogers Centre does not appear to be involved in this deal in any way.
Rogers and Bell are both large broadcast organizations. Will this have an impact on properties they own separately?
Both Rogers and Bell say this is a completely separate deal. They will come together to own MLSE, but it will be run separately from anything else they own or operate. For example, MLSE will not have any say in the operations of the Blue Jays.
This deal is partially about the new digital communications landscape. Will the new MLSE under these two companies quicken this process, and what company will benefit the most from this?
Both parties say the future of sports is the digital world. Delivering video to customers via tablets, cell phones and computers are their priorities, and you can bet MLSE will be pushing this hard. It’s really hard to say who will benefit from this, because right now we are only dealing with theory and expectations. Who knows how it will break down once reality strikes?
Who is going to run MLSE? Does Larry Tanenbaum (now upped his stake from 20 to 25 per cent) become the tie-breaker in votes, which would give him the position of control?
At this stage everyone says it will be a world of unanimity because they all share the same goal - to make their properties the best they can be. Tanenbaum will continue to be the guy who represents the Leafs and the Raptors when meetings of the Board of Governors happen. You can imagine that there will be an interesting dynamic in those private board meetings.
Bell also has an ownership interest in the Montreal Canadiens. What will the NHL say about Bell having a stake in two teams?
Bell says they have enjoyed their relationship with the Canadiens and expect that will continue. However, the NHL may have a different point of view. The NHL doesn’t want one organization to have an ownership position with two different teams. The league will probably arrange a meeting or at least a long conference call between Bell and itself in the next few days.
Will this have any impact on the purchase of broadcast rights for the future?
The two parties say no. Bell and Rogers say they are coming together to own MLSE. They say competition between their broadcast properties, TSN and Sportsnet for example, will only be increased as a result of this deal and that bidding on broadcast properties will not be affected by this arrangement.