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Report: Leafs abstained from Canadian TV deal vote

Dec 12, 2013, 11:29 AM EDT


From the Toronto Star:

Two years after communications rivals Rogers and Bell decided to go into business together as co-owners of the Maple Leaf sports empire, the strains in the “unholy” alliance are finally starting to show.

This week at the NHL board of governors meetings in Pebble Beach, Calif., the Leafs were the only club that declined to approve the landmark $5.2-billion television and digital rights deal between the 30-team NHL and Rogers Communications that stunned the hockey world late last month.

Multiple sources confirmed that the vote was 29-0 in favour of approving the 12-year agreement. The Leafs, represented by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum and CEO Tim Leiweke, shocked the meeting by abstaining from the vote.

And that’s not all. Apparently there was a rather “contentious” MLSE board meeting the other day, fueled by that massive Canadian TV deal that shut out Bell-owned TSN.

All of which should come as no surprise, given Rogers and Bell are fierce competitors. One really does have to wonder if their “unholy alliance” is built for the long run.


The Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts is hearing a different version of events:

…sources with the NHL and MLSE who did not wish to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the corporate relationships between the various parties, said the bitterness between BCE and Rogers had nothing to do with the abstention. Bettman did not have to step in to prevent a potentially embarrassing no vote from the Leafs because Tanenbaum had already decided on the advice of Lastman and MLSE’s lawyers that he would abstain.

But Shoalts doesn’t downplay the potentially problematic relationship between the two companies:

There has already been friction over the firing of Brian Burke last January as the president and general manager of the Maple Leafs and there will be more ahead as some of the regional rights deals with a few of the Canadian NHL teams expire in the coming months.

  1. esracerx46 - Dec 12, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    The only “shocking” thing here is that they went into business together to buy the Leafs in the first place

  2. muckleflugga - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    there will be further events straining the unholy alliance, and the five billion dollar tv deal…

    the harper government, bolstered by an uncontrollable majority, desires to deregulate the telecommunications industry in canada, opening the playing field to fair competition…

    its argument: competition from other big players will dramatically reduce costs for services in the present offered by bell, rogers and telus; with verizon and at&t among others wet in anticipation, the big three are suitably alarmed north of the forty ninth

    competition brings reduced revenue held against increased development and promotion costs engendered by need to simply stay in the game

    i’m not sure how the monies in payment for the tv deal shake out, but if they were projected against revenue streams anticipated in the current competitive environment, rogers might want to revisit the nhl tv deal down the road, providing escape clauses are not already factored in

    the tv cash pie and its effect might not be as big as hoped; an nhl with a dubious and violent product will be less able to argue success simply by pointing at a bottom line, bolstered as it is by future windfall unrelated to its own management boondoggles in the past and present, not the least of these being ruinous lockouts…

    and, the tv deal gives massive influence to rogers; the nhl effectively surrendered its ability to lockout players without damaging its tv revenue stream — advantage players’ union when sharing is discussed as deals are advanced down the road, through any service provider…

    enter apple corporation, notorious for rendering technologies and media platforms obsolete –ask richard branson. apple corporation is presently developing apple tv as a platform for twenty third century interactive gaming systems, music, movies and television delivery, in 4k, and supported by massive server farms already three quarters built…

    dedicated movie channels and sports networks including mlb and the nhl are on board. the big networks are ready to pull the trigger as are hbo and showcase; if not, cash rich apple will simply buy them or their compliance

    cable television is soon to be in its death throes as apple creates a single unified global delivery system for all media. credit to the nhl for getting its foot in the door, it will be an excellent hedge. apple can buy and sell rogers, bell and telus ten times over, with its pocket change

    and then there’s the canadian dollar, over-priced and already in adjustment that could see it back around sixty five cents on the us dollar. is the rogers tv revenue streaming in canadian funds…hold the order on that bentley?

    bye, bye miss american pie, drove my chevy to the levy but the levy was dry…

    • kaptaanamerica - Dec 12, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      Get a clue, increased competition from at&t or Verizon will mean the Rogers deal is even more valuable since peeps like me want access to nhl content and will get it from Rogers not bell! I’m more likely to stick with or sign up to Rogers service because of the deal.bell customers might go to new competitors.Rogers has a way to hold on to its customers with Nhl content…

  3. ejbigg - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Considering MLSE is partially owned by Bell and Rogers, they have some fiduciary duty to both companies. Therefore they avoided a conflict of interest by abstaining to vote. They didn’t vote yes, they didn’t vote no, they just abstained. Not sure why anyone is “shocked” by this.

    • stcrowe - Dec 12, 2013 at 5:13 PM

      Exactly. How can that not be a conflict of interest? Shoalts has no idea what he is talking about.

      • stcrowe - Dec 12, 2013 at 5:18 PM

        My bad. Cox has no idea what he is talking about. Shoalts has it right.

  4. micasa81 - Dec 12, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Also file under “things that happen when a team is guaranteed a sod of a lot of airtime no matter what deal goes through. “

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