Why the NHL’s New TV Deal is Bad for Hockey Fans

Yesterday the Canadian broadcast landscape for National Hockey League games has undergone a tremendous shift with the announcement that the NHL reached a $5.2-billion agreement with Rogers Communications for the league’s broadcast and multimedia rights in Canada.  As a hockey fan I do not really feel good about this deal.  It is hard to image one organization running a monopoly on viewership of NHL hockey.  It is something that hockey fans have not experienced for quite some time.  In many respects, it is the end of an era.

Why the NHL’s New TV Deal is Bad for Hockey Fans

This deal was obviously about revenue for the league as this is the largest in league history and gives Rogers national rights to all NHL games, including the playoffs and Stanley Cup finals, on all of its platforms in all languages.  It really is disappointing.  The $5.2 billion dollar agreement is a 12-year deal that shifts control of the NHL away from TSN and CBC and in the process  turns over control of Hockey Night in Canada to Rogers.  Hockey Night in Canada is a sports staple.  I, like many hockey fans, grew up with Hockey Night in Canada and watching classic games on TV on Saturday nights.  While CBC will air games through a sublicensing agreement with Rogers for the next four years, HNIC has lost all of their creative control with Rogers now owning the content.  Not cool for one company to have so much say or power.

10 Reasons Why the NHL TV Deal is Bad for Hockey Fans

  1. Rogers Sportsnet Lack the TV Personalities – with all due respect to the Sportsnet Hockey personas, Darren Millard is no James Duthie or Ron McLean. Scott Morrison is no Bob McKenzie and Nick Kypreos is no Don Cherry.  TSN by far currently has the best on air personalities.  Rogers would be wise to hire or retain the majority of the TSN talent.
  2. Hockey Night in Canada is no more – Rogers now has creative control over the content of HNIC.  Although Hockey Night in Canada will still be on four years, who knows what the new format will be.  CBC has aired hockey on Saturday night since 1952 on television and began in 1931 on radio.
  3. The End of Coaches Corner? Love him or hate him, this could spell the end of Coaches Corner.  Will Rogers retain Don Cherry or will Grapes be unemployed come next season?
  4. Sportsnet Lack the veteran broadcast tandems of TSN or CBC – Chris Cuthbert and Gord Miller are two of the best play by play men in the business.  What becomes of them?  The same can be said for Jim Hughson and Bob Cole over at Hockey Night in Canada.  Canada has grown up with these gentlemen who have called NHL games over the past decade and a half.  Let’s hope we hear more from them in the years to come.
  5. Lack of Hockey History – Sportsnet has only been around since 1998. They just do not have the history of CBC or TSN.  How many hockey fans remember a classic NHL game that was witnessed on HNIC or on TSN?  Probably everybody.  How many of your remember seeing a classic NHL game on Sportsnet?
  6. Job Losses– times are tough and with this announcement, expect to see some job losses at CBC an TSN.  That is always difficult when a monopoly comes to town.  Canada’s sports television was definitely turned on its head with this announcement.
  7. TSN has a strong hockey product that will now go to waste – TSN has built the best hockey coverage around.  They were doing everything right.  They provide exceptional entertainment value in an era when entertainment is questionable at best.  It is a shame to see TSN get shut out of hockey coverage in Canada. RIP TSN NHL hockey.
  8. Gary Bettman’s dominance of the NHL remains – for as much as Bettman has done for the game, check that the business of hockey, he has, in my estimation dealt crushing blows to Canadian hockey fans.  From lockouts to US expansion to no Canadian Stanley Cup champion in 20 years.  Gary you really have put your mark on the game in a negative manner for many people.  Signing this deal because of the money is just the latest proof.  You truly are about the dollar and earning for NHL owners and not necessarily about what is good for the game.
  9. Expect Centre Ice Price to go up – part of this deal means that Rogers now has control of Centre Ice packages in Canada.  If there cellular pricing is any indication we can expect the Centre Ice package to increase from the $200 per season (which seems like too much already) that it currently is offered for.  I think it is time for me to cancel my subscription to Centre Ice.  The Oilers haven’t been that great anyway.
  10. Variety breeds interest – I think most sports fans enjoy having choices when they watch their league/sport of choice.  NFL fans can watch on CBS or FOX.  NHL fans in Canada can currently watch on TSN, CBC, Sportsnet, or RDS.  It is just more interesting to have variety in viewing options. Sigh, this announcement is so disappointing.

As a hockey fan this announcement has a direct impact on how we get to view NHL hockey in Canada.  Sure some of the personalities may jump ship, but it is just not the same.  CBC has been slowly killing Hockey Night in Canada in recent years but TSN is the Total Sports Network… hard to be a Total Sports Network without broadcasting NHL hockey games.