That’s All Folk: NHL Canadian Broadcasting and the possible end to the Don Cherry Era

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.

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3 Responses to That’s All Folk: NHL Canadian Broadcasting and the possible end to the Don Cherry Era

  1. jl09iv says:

    Sportsnet is allowing Canadians to view more NHL games but at what cost. I completely agree with the points that you brought up, Sportsnets broadcasting quality is inferior to TSN and CBC but they do offer more quantity. Canadians were getting quality hockey but now they are getting quantity. Personally I like the deal and would choose quantity over quality however CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada is part of Canadian Heritage. Losing the rights to Hockey Night in Canada’s Theme song was devastating enough for Canadians how will we react with Don Cherrys departure. Don Cherry is Canadian icon and deserved his segment on Coach’s Corner, what rogers did was monopolistic. In a world where money is power, rogers had the funds to buy broadcasting and the world will soon await the revolution of NHL on Sportsnet.

  2. eliefortin26 says:

    I agree with you that the average Canadian NHL fan stands to suffer from a drop in quality for NHL broadcasts. I believe that TSN has provided a far superior product with it’s NHL on TSN brand over the years and it is sad that they will not be able to provide their top notch broadcasts for the next decade. That being said, I don’t believe we should be judging a book by its cover here. If Rogers is able to utilize alot of its channels (Sportsnet, CityTV, OMNI, OLN) then this could represent an opportunity for Canadians to view much more hockey, something we all want. In addition, as you point out the clause that blackouts will no longer occur is huge. As someone who lives outside the market of their favourite team I have been affected by broadcast blackouts many times and it is a very frustrating experience.

    I also belive that if Sportsnet is able to poach some of the most talented broadcasters from other networks, it will make this broadcast deal better for the average fan. The individuals on the broadcasts really do make a difference. That brings me to the institution that is Don Cherry. I really feel that if he is not apart of the future for Hockey Night In Canada it will be unfortunate but the reality is that he is at a point where retirement is a realistic posibility.

  3. jr09gx says:

    I agree with everything you just said. I know I was in shock and somewhat angry about the deal. I can not stand some of Sportsnets broadcastings, like you said it seems mediocre compared to TSN or CBC. It is painful knowing that the vast majority of games will be played on Sportsnet, watching games with the same commentators is going to get boring quickly. I like how you also brought up the future of a hockey icon in Don Cherry, and CBC. CBC has no control now on how they choose to broadcast hockey games, it sucks that Rogers now has a final say on how CBC is using the content. Now we can only wait to see how this deal turns out, I hope that Rogers can prove me wrong and start to make better broadcasts.

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