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Rogers Controls NHL Hockey Broadcasting in Canada

Whatever happened on the ice on the night of November 25th became instantly irrelevant with the news of the new agreement between the NHL and Rogers Communications.


The news hit last night in a tweet from Bob McKenzie that some found ambiguous...

It would soon become more clear...

And with that...everything else that happened on the ice last night basically ceased to matter.

I'm sure everyone has their favourite broadcasters and channels for which to watch hockey content on TV and online, but in my opinion, there is no denying that TSN has raised the bar in terms of hockey coverage in North America over the last decade. The fact that "Canada's Sports Leader" has lost the ability to broadcast the NHL on a national level is astounding. It seems only fitting that the story was first broken by TSN and Canadian hockey broadcasting icon Bob McKenzie.

So, what does this all mean? Well, details are still coming out, and there will be a rather huge press conference at 9am Edmonton time that may shed more light on things, but here is what is known so far:

1. The deal is for 12 years and $5.232 Billion.

2. The deal begins at the conclusion of the NHL Draft following this season.

3. Rogers now holds the rights all national NHL broadcasts in Canada, including ALL rounds of the NHL playoffs, the NHL All-Star Game and the NHL Draft.

4. TSN is out as a national broadcaster of NHL hockey in Canada. They continue to hold regional distribution of the Jets and Canadiens.

5. A piece that will get a lot of attention...CBC will continue to air Hockey Night in Canada, but creative direction of the broadcast, including all on-air talent are now controlled by Rogers and SportsNet. It remains to be seen what that means for on-air guys like Maclean, Cherry and Friedman. CBC loses all playoff game coverage.

6. Hockey Night in Canada no longer has exclusive rights on Saturday night. Rogers can air additional games on their channels including City and all regional SportsNet channels with no blackouts across the country.

7. TVA gets all french-language broadcast rights.

8. Rogers controls distribution of national NHL broadcasting across all media platforms, including online and radio.

9. A potentially big item that hasn't been discussed yet, that I am particularly interested in...Rogers now controls the distribution of NHL digital highlights across all platforms as well. It remains to be seen whether or not they will restrict access to those in any way as Canadians have seen with the Olympics in the past, but if they did decide to, it would greatly inhibit TSN's ability to produce NHL-related hockey programming such as taalk shows, and would even affect properties like SportsCentre.

10. Per the NHL's release: "Rogers will provide game coverage with expanded pre- and post-game coverage beginning at 4 p.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays."

11. As that last point indicates, Rogers will launch a new national broadcast on Sunday nights, in the mold of NBC's football coverage. "The new Sunday night national broadcast will feature marquee matchups." They will also assume control of the former "NHL on TSN" Wednesday night national broadcast.

12. Again, per the release: "Viewers on Saturday nights will get every game regardless of where they reside and certain games involving two U.S.-based teams." So, Rogers will get to carry all-US games similar to what TSN has done in recent years on TSN2.

13. Rogers will operate NHL Center Ice and NHL GameCenter Live in Canada. No indication yet what that means to Canadians who subscribe to other cable/internet providers.

14. Per the Rogers press release: "The $5.2-billion deal is comprised of annual payments, starting at just over $300 million next year then increasing gradually to more than $500 million in the final year. There is also a $150 million upfront payment that will be spread over the deal’s first two years."

15. The deal is subject to approval by the board of governors in December, which seems like a formality at this point.

What this means for the Oilers isn't clear beyond where you find the nationally broadcast games. Rogers already owned the Oilers' regional broadcast rights, which they will continue to. It will likely mean that the NHL salary cap will go up by an extra couple of million in the 2015/16 season (the cap is set by the revenues generated in the previous year).

Nobody knows what this means for the likes of McKenzie, Dreger, Ferraro, Duthie, Ward and the countless other TSN hockey personalities. Bob McKenzie tweeted is continued dedication to TSN in a series of tweets this morning, and on Montreal's TSN radio, when pestered by the morning show host, Dreger admitted he believes he has about another six years on his current TSN deal.

All of this will work itself out in the days to come and we will update this post with major updates as they become available, but needless to say. Hockey coverage in this country will be very different beginning next season.


So, Rogers sub-deal with CBC expires after the 4th year, at which time they can re-up or phase out CBC entirely.

Appears Friedman, Cherry, etc. are Rogers guys starting next season, which means they could actually be seen more, not less.