By: Paul Dermody
Over the last week the National Hockey League has been in the news for more than its’ hockey. The NHL and Rogers Sportsnet signed a whopping $5.2 Billion dollar deal for the next 12 years to give all Canadian NHL broadcasting rights to Sportsnet.
With this deal it eliminates what is known as ‘blackouts’ in the broadcasting world. Blackouts are when a broadcaster does not air games or material in certain areas. This is one of the best things I have heard come out of the deal, but in my opinion it might be the only good part of the deal for the Canadian NHL fan.
Many including myself are worried that this deal is taking more away from the fans than giving back. Many of the other networks like TSN, will lose all of their weekly NHL programming. The only exception comes to the CBC which will retain their rights to air Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) broadcasts.
For the fan who enjoys their diversity in NHL programming like myself, it is going to be quite difficult and different to watch games strictly on Sportsnet. This is most prevalent to their on air personalities. Sportsnet has always been seen as the weaker product to TSN and CBC.
But what is next for HNIC and mainly Don Cherry. Sportsnet has voiced their opinion on wanting to keep Cherry, but this drastic move might force him to leave as some are believing. For the last 30 plus years Canadian hockey fans have been glued to their television sets on Saturday nights to hear what Cherry has to say. Cherry has not been the most accepting hockey personality, but that’s why fans (love him or hate him) watch his 10 minute rants every Saturday.
Like I said above, many are expecting Cherry to retire. This comes at a great loss to hockey fans all across this country. Another thing the deal does is restrict the diversity in programming, opinion and choice. Rogers/Sportsnet has monopolized NHL broadcasts in Canada and are taking away that needed choice fans want.
Although I do point out a lot of negatives, I have to give credit to Rogers/Sportsnet for this deal. It was theirs’ for the taking and they grabbed the bull by the horns and tied it down. It will be very interesting to see what Sportsnet will be able to do with the deal, and how they will try and facilitate the convince the ‘TSN’ fan to jump ship.
But realistically what choice do Canadian NHL fans have besides spending thousands of dollars on season tickets. Love or hate the Sportsnet deal, fans will have to suck it up to get their NHL fix.