The NHL recently announced the largest media rights deal in its history; a multi-billion dollar broadcasting deal with Rogers Communications. While approval is pending, it will be one of the easiest unanimous votes at the executive meeting this December; after all, the league has 30 rich owners, and this deal will make 30 even richer ones. This ground-shifting agreement means that the delivery of hockey in Canada will be painted Rogers red, as they hold the national rights to broadcast any NHL game on CBC from the 2014-2015 season through to 2024-2025. Rogers’ goal is to take NHL games nationwide on Saturdays on Hockey Night and televising them on Rogers existing programming such as Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet One, and City TV, making Hockey Night an endemic name in all Rogers platforms in what they call a “real, true partnership for both networks and the fans”.
The media has outlined the mixed emotion from social media fans/users associated with the new Rogers domination tactic. Canadian fans are said to be very devout in the way they go about their consumption of hockey; tampering with the experience most have grown up around is a dicey move. As a result, Rogers, while becoming a Canadian national icon, is being careful to not quash the iconic Hockey Night in Canada brand in the process. CBC has been home to this brand since 1952, and the media does a fair job weighing the future of CBC legends such as Jim Hughson, Bob Cole, and Don Cherry. The media has also alluded to this deal thrusting the salary cap upwards, allowing teams to give deserving players raises and signing key talent long-term. Many are said to be worried, too, about the death of TSN and how the country will react to Canadian hockey and the Rogers brand. Either way, Canadians are going to want to watch hockey, regardless of who is giving them access.
The effect of this deal extends beyond just Canada. NHL broadcasting, a multi-billion dollar revenue generating operation, is receiving a big boost in scope and reach of their product, now extending to more fans at more times in more ways and mediums than ever before. For those rooted deep in tradition, basking in the warmth of local broadcasting, they will have to adjust to the new hockey world as seen on television. After all, the success of a massive national broadcast deal is not predicated on who runs the programming, but who, in the end, is tuning in. Hockey is so engrained in Canadian heritage that no one; not you, me, nor the largest communications company in Canada, can bend their passion for the sport.
Do you think Rogers can successfully nurture the Canadian heritage with this deal? Does this deal have any real effect on the lives of Canadians, positive or negative?