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CBC won’t be giving up NHL rights without a fight

Apr 20, 2012, 3:24 PM EDT


The CBC’s contract to broadcast NHL games across Canada may be set to expire at the end of the 2013-14 NHL season, but as the National Post reports, the public broadcaster doesn’t plan to walk away as many have many predicted it will.

Kirstine Stewart, the chief of the CBC’s English services, was adamant this week that the home of Hockey Night in Canada could compete with the two private behemoths, Bell Media (TSN) and Rogers (Sportsnet).

The public broadcaster successfully resigned league rights in 2007, but every indication is that the CBC went to the limit of what it could spend. And in the face of a $115-million reduction in federal funding, the odds are low — perhaps very — the corporation can bring the financial might required to beat the competition.

Ms. Stewart suggested the CBC’s cultural significance and appeal to “generalized audiences” that are larger than the hardcore sports viewers of Bell’s TSN and Rogers’ Sportsnet may hold a degree of sway with league executives when the contract expires at the end of the 2013-14 season.

“What we provide is different from what TSN and Sportsnet do,” she said.

But if money talks and “cultural significance” walks, the CBC is at a significant disadvantage. Generating massive profits just isn’t the public broadcaster’s MO. If making money was the only thing that mattered, the CBC would produce way more trashy Canadian reality TV. Like maybe a show about a bunch of people who are forced to live in the same house together and everyone gets along really well because nobody wants to rock the boat.

Related: Could CBC cuts include Don Cherry’s job?

  1. jdubs21 - Apr 20, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    Would be sad to see it go, but I much rather watching games on Sportsnet than CBC with their every team is better than the Canucks broadcasting.

  2. thehighcountrybear - Apr 20, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    I doubt CBC will be cutting Don Cherry anytime soon…when Don decides to go he’ll go! When CBC was changing CEOs faster than Canucks fans jump on and off the bandwagon, they tried to strong-arm Ron MacLean who held out until the hue and cry was deafening. Well, guess what, Don Cherry and Ron MacLean are more popular than Martin and Lewis in their heyday. Lose Don Cherry, the very fabric of what constitutes Hockey Night In Canada will be shredded…there’s only one PJ Stock and he’d be the last hope to hold an otherwise bland and repetitive offering together. CBC should take a hard look at the way TSN does hockey, not in form but in content…though subject to the same shameful Canadian biases, TSN can produce such a high class and variable form of sports journalism, it makes stodgy old CBC, a former giant in sports journalism, look dated and tired. This while understanding the subject matter itself is limiting in its annual sameness…

  3. rob1986s - Apr 20, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Bell and Rogers joined forces to buy a majority stake in Toronto Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (which includes the Leafs, Raptors, Air Canada Centre, Toronto FC etc.)

    Bell and Rogers also joined forces to take the Olympic broadcast rights away from CBC.

    It only makes sense that they combine once more to throw a kajilion dollars at Mr. Bettman for the Canadian NHL broadcast rights.

    Two networks makes a lot of sense especially considering CBC’s policy of subjecting western Canada to a woeful Leafs v Islanders matchup in lieu of say, a Habs v Bruins game.

    • jdubs21 - Apr 20, 2012 at 5:19 PM

      CBC has always been eastern biased. No one east of the Manitoba border understands how frustrating it is to always have the “Toronto’s the greatest team in the league and if its not Toronto, it’s Boston, Chicago or Detroit.” I’ve lived in Western Canada my whole life and have been subjected to the eastern biased long enough. I want to hear news about the Canucks, the Flames, the Oilers and the rest of the Western Conference teams, instead of hearing 90% of the Eastern Conference.

      That’s where Sportsnet came in and filled the void. Finally for the first time you could watch a pregame show or highlights and have the broadcasters talk about your team. CBC is outdated, love ya, but time to go.

  4. DTF31 - Apr 20, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    This would suck. CBC’s production of HNIC is a million times better than anything Sportsnet or TSN do currently.

  5. thomaspratt - Apr 20, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    Like maybe a show about a bunch of people who are forced to live in the same house together and everyone gets along really well because nobody wants to rock the boat

    Was the Lofters on CBC?

    Sportsnet/TSN can also put games on CTV and Global, so a generalized audience is no reason to keep the games on CBC. In fact, they could put different regional games on different channels at the same time and pull audiences away from Center Ice.

  6. thehighcountrybear - Apr 20, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    True enough jdubs21, though I’d counter by including the lack of Red Wing games as a CBC failing, primarily because of the divisional alignments that preclude Detroit from playing at the centre of the universe. But Sportsnet, my word…that is just plain garbage from a journalistic viewpoint! Have you seen a bigger gang of homers in the broadcast crews in either Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton? In Vancouver, Mark Lee is pretty good but John ‘no call’ Garrett is the worst homer bar none…they have a great panel between periods, nearly as good as TSN however. In Calgary, if it wasn’t for the professional and smooth talking Charlie Simmer, a former player with impeccable credentials, Sportsnet would be a complete disaster [ Look for Charlie to surface on NBC Sports soon enough…he has the polish no doubt ]? in Edmonton, the Oilers have been kicked around so long, their last bulwark is the shamefully biased Sportsnet crew doing whatever it can to compensate for an otherwise dismal product [ gotta feel for Gene Principe ]…

  7. buffalomafia - Apr 20, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    HNIC rules! So does Don Cherry!

  8. lostpuppysyndrome - Apr 20, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    Speaking of hockey on TV, does anyone know a way to LEGALLY watch the playoffs without having to pay for cable but also not leaving the house? Does NBC have a way to watch the playoffs without going to various free, yet sadly illegal sites?

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:20 PM

      I should add I’m sick as a dog and I’m a poor college student. Pity me please.

  9. 0ffsides - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:01 PM


    I live in the States and watch HNIC on CBC every Saturday night. My local cable company doesn’t get TSN or Sportsnet. I would be a shame for us South of the border to miss out on the institution that is HNIC on CBC.

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