Rogers Closes in on ‘Game Changing’ Broadcasting Deal

Rogers Closes in on ‘Game Changing’ Broadcasting Deal

Good morning MLHS,

First off, let me start by thanking Alec, Michael and Michael for inviting me to participate in Maple Leaf Hangout Episode #17 – if you guys and gals had nearly as much fun watching as I did filming, then you and I are off to a good start!

Secondly, I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself to anyone that didn’t catch the Hangout and wonders what the heck I’m doing here. I’ve been following Alec’s writing since he started out at that ‘other site’ and I quickly moved over to the greener pastures of MLHS when he made the move. Along with reading all of the incredible content that the writers here put together, I’ve also stealthily followed the comments sections, and although I never actually posted myself, I feel like I’ve gotten to know a number of you by reading your comments over the years. So on that note, let me say that it’s an honour to have the opportunity to write to you along with the rest of the stellar (myself excluded) MLHS team.

Briefly, I’m a lawyer working downtown in Toronto with a concentrated litigation practice. As part of my education I’ve had the opportunity to study and write extensively about sports and entertainment law, and I now work at a firm with a practice in media litigation. As a guy with dreams of working in sports, I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent immersed in this site getting my hockey fix. My hope is that I can provide a slightly different take on some of the news and events that concern hockey and our Toronto Maple Leafs. But make no mistake, I’m a fan of the game – and more specifically the Maple Leafs – first and foremost.

I know that the Michaels and I addressed the Rogers deal with the NHL earlier, but I thought I’d just provide a quick run-down for anyone that missed the Hangout, or who simply wants a quick reference.

The Rogers Deal: The Basics

The proposed deal is for 12 years and approximately $5.2 Billion, which averages out to more than the $400 million/ season that the Commissioner was reportedly seeking from a new Canadian broadcasting deal. The deal is one of the longest in sports broadcasting history, and is unprecedented in that it is the first time in North American sports that a major sports league has granted exclusive distribution rights to a single broadcast network. As a result of the deal Rogers gets exclusive rights to all Canadian hockey, across all media platforms (including television, digital, and mobile) until the end of the 2026 season (or roughly until Rick Dipietro’s deal with the Islanders was supposed to expire). Rogers will have the exclusive right to broadcast Canadian hockey on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

As part of the deal, Rogers will sublicense two games a week to the CBC under the Hockey Night in Canada moniker over the next 4 years, while TVA will carry all French language broadcasts in la Belle Province. It’s not clear what will happen to the CBC’s affiliation with Hockey Night in Canada beyond four years. The CBC will also retain playoff games and Stanley Cup finals games that  fall on a Saturday. Interestingly, because HNIC has now become part of the Rogers programming platform, editorial control over HNIC (including on-air content, talent and creative direction) now belongs to Rogers. In other words, if you’re tired of hearing Glenn Healy malign the Leafs call Nadir Mohamed (don’t actually) because the CBC can’t help you anymore.

Probably the single greatest impact of the deal is that is promises to mark the end of “regional games” and “blackouts.” So what does this all mean for us Leafs fans?

The Rogers Deal: Through a Blue and White Lens

Unequivocally, the end of “regional games” and “blackouts” is a good thing for Leaf fans living outside of the Leafs broadcast region who just want to watch hockey games featuring the Leafs. Regional games and blackouts occur as a result of agreements reached between the NHL, the national broadcaster (currently TSN and CBC), regional broadcasters (currently Sportsnet), and to some degree the hockey club. Take for example a poor Leaf fan stranded in Vancouver, far removed from his or her favourite team.

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Under the current (expiring) deal, when a regional Leafs game is scheduled only those viewers residing in the Leafs broadcasting zone can see it. Making matters worse is that when a regional game is scheduled on a night when a national broadcaster is airing another game coast to coast, in order to prevent the games from competing for viewership the regional Leaf broadcast is limited to a 50 mile radius around the ACC.

Under the new deal, it would appear that even where the regional broadcaster (which will now be TSN as the station retains 10 regional Leafs games in 2014 and 26 in 2015) is broadcasting the Leafs game in Ontario, Rogers will have the right to broadcast the game outside of Ontario, so our Vancouver residing Leafs fan is now a happy camper. This is one of the major benefits of having a single media broadcaster because the concern over games competing against one another is a lot less pressing when you own the rights to all of the games anyway.

The concern for Leafs fans is that as part of the deal struck between Rogers and the CBC it may become necessary to subscribe to cable to see any Leafs games. The way the sub-license has been structured it’s not necessarily the case that the CBC will be carrying the Leafs on HNIC in Canada on a Saturday night. While Rogers owes the CBC two NHL games a week, the company retained control over on-air content and may simply decide that it would prefer to have the marquee Leafs matchup on CityTV rather than CBC. If that is in fact the case, then fans will not be able to tune in to the CBC’s free HD feed, and may need to start shelling out for games.

While the deal has not yet been ratified, the NHL Board of Governors is set to meet during the second week of December and will vote on the deal. That being said, anything less than resounding approval by the Board would be shocking at this point. In short, get ready for a whole-lot more Kypreos for the next 12 years.

Until next time,

Elliot

Elliot is a litigator, media and sports lawyer working downtown Toronto at Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP. He completed his articles at the Toronto office of a national full-service firm before leaving to pursue a media, sports and litigation practice. Elliot currently teaches a negotiation course entitled “Lawyer as Negotiator” at Osgoode Hall Law School, where he graduated in the top 6% of his class, and was a recipient of the McMillan LLP Scholarship. He has written extensively on negotiation, mediation and alternative dispute resolution, and his paper on collective bargaining in the National Hockey League was published in Volume 19 of the Sports Lawyers Journal. Elliot currently represents national level amateur athletes involved in sports related disputes through the Sports Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada. Elliot can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter

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305 comments
ChrisBromley1
ChrisBromley1

Great article Elliot, thanks for a clear and concise summary of the deal and what we can expect as a fan. Looking forward to reading your next post. 

Tommy Cat
Tommy Cat

Good to have a knowlegable business prespective guy as a writer.  Andrew R put up some good stuff from the business side way back before all the scrapping about the Kessel trade.  Look forward to more articles like this.

Anthony Petrielli
Anthony Petrielli

I'm just going to assume Elliot's Italian with that last name and say any time we add an Italian to the group, it's a good thing!

ShotgunCharlie
ShotgunCharlie

How does this work for streaming games within the GTA? If you buy NHL Gamecenter will you be able to watch within the GTA? I cancelled my cable a few years ago. Nothing on cable that I cannot get on an antenna. Downside is I only get to watch HD games on Saturday nights. Streaming in general sucks.

Reimocerous
Reimocerous

Living in saskatchewan, there have been sooo many times I see a Leaf game on Sportsnet Ontario and I can't watch it. Frustrating. If this new deal now means I get to see those games (more games), oh baby am I onboard. :)

Axle_Goalie
Axle_Goalie

Does Franson suck? Or is he just horrible this year?

Elliot Saccucci
Elliot Saccucci

Hey guys - thanks to Michael Langlois for the idea, but feel free to follow me on twitter @ElliotSaccucci

4evrblue
4evrblue

hey BB, is Toes Camels your team in MLHS3?

Ze_theLeafsFan
Ze_theLeafsFan

Welcome aboard Elliot! Looking forward to your pieces. You have joined a very talented team so don't drop the ball :)

peterbleafs
peterbleafs

I think what we will see, is each Canadian team with its version of LeafsTV as it just a modular system that Rogers can now impose.  Then we as Canadians will all have to pay for channels to follow our favourite teams.  Then they will broadcast many USA games and commoditize those.  Sure I will end up paying...but I am so used to not paying for it. 

peterbleafs
peterbleafs

Our PP is very stupid in how we use DMen.  Phaneuf should be paired with Rielly on the #1 unit.  Franson with Gardiner on the #2. 

Mind Bomb
Mind Bomb

Good morning Elliot, see you posted below, Just wanted to say Welcome to the Jungle, new bloggers always buy the Beer FYI :)

 Also we need to get you an Avatar, Might I suggest a Mind Bomb Rocks Logo :)


MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@-Keon- Who would you want out?  A league without Florida, Nashville, Tampa Bay, Carolina Phoenix, Anaheim, and Dallas would be a better league.  Perhaps more could go.

Not Norm
Not Norm

@Anthony Petrielli Elliott's family could just as well have originally been Scottish. The MacCucci clan are pretty famous down home in N.S. They may have just changed their name to fit into Toronto's dominant culture. 

If so.... remember your ancestors, MacCucci. And remember... FREEEEEEEEDOM!

Also: Go Leafs Go.

mcloki
mcloki

@Burtonboy That would mean the NHL is a 6 billion dollar business. with 30 teams . I need to see the math on that. 

wendelsway1
wendelsway1

@Axle_Goalie To me, he is not consistent enough to be counted on to play top 4 minutes and is a 3rd pairing Dman.  He's big but doesn't play big consistently, for a PMD is slow and is prone to lackadaisical, disinterested play.  Just my opinion....in truth, possibly biased as I've never liked this player.

Wilbur
Wilbur

@Axle_Goalie He looks terribly slow, out of shape and his decision making seems slow as well. Not sure what the problem is but there's plenty of season left.

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@4evrblue I'm not in any fantasy League Blue . Not something I'm terribly interested in .

BPsotka
BPsotka

@peterbleafs "[The 2nd ranked PP in the league] is very stupid in how we use DMen."- you

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@mcloki @Burtonboy 5 % annual growth along with expansion and all the outdoor games. We don't even know what other revenue streams they are looking at but its an every evolving thing . I think its very possible 

Alec Brownscombe
Alec Brownscombe moderator

@-Keon- If today's 5 million player becomes tomorrow's 3.5 million dollar player, he might be alright.

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@TheCanucksnaphook @Reimocerous Hey.  Respect.  Its a big country with Leaf fans strung out everywhere.  I try to close my mind to the thought that I'm supporting an institution from "the centre of the universe"

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@Wilbur @Axle_Goalie I think he's been left out to dry like the other dmen.  He seems slow because generally there is no one around to pass the puck to

GreekGod
GreekGod

@Wilbur @Axle_Goalie 

Some people have brought up his contract as an excuse, which I think is nonsense... why would he play like this when knowing he is looking for that bigger contract next summer. This is why I was saying this summer not to sign him to a long term contract. He is still inconsistent and needs to prove himself much like Kadri does. 

4evrblue
4evrblue

@Burtonboy @4evrblue cool cool. Manager has him name down as "BB" is all so figured I'd check. Ever run a team before?

mcloki
mcloki

@Burtonboy @mcloki Crap you're right BB. Just the 5% increase the PA can ask for would jump the cap up to 114 million by the end of the 12th year. 80 million in 5 years. Now that's assuming the PA always takes the 5% increase. 

Man are people going to be pissed seeing. players like Orr get 2 million a season. What's Tavares going to get in a 80 million dollar cap era? 12-14 million a year? 

vinoa
vinoa

@mcloki @Burtonboy Maybe the Rogers deal is the prelude to more Canadian teams. Seems the league finally realized where their biggest market is (hint: the place actually gets snow)

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@mcloki @Burtonboy We almost always seem to underestimate how high the revenues and cap seem to rise . Time will tell but prepare to be surprised 

mcloki
mcloki

@Burtonboy @mcloki I think it's possible but that's a lot of new revenue that has to show up. And BB where will Leaf ticket prices be? they are already at breaking point. An how will the low revenue teams keep up with salary. Hell how will they survive? 

Maybe 2 new Canadian Teams in Toronto and Quebec gets us the revenue. and the Detroit Leaf classic is going to make a shitload but will the Columbus- Florida Panther Winter classic draw in the cash.

4evrblue
4evrblue

@Burtonboy @4evrblue bah!! Focus smokus!! lol 

To each their own I guess, I'm in 4 leagues this year and it's a slow year lol. Can't get enough