The earth didn't just move this morning. It shook, rattled and rolled in ways never seen before in this country's sports broadcasting world. In fact, it basically turned upside down.
In the largest broadcast rights deal in Canadian history -- $5.2 billion over 12 years -- Rogers Communications corralled all rights to every NHL game on every conceivable platform starting next season. In doing so, it knocked competitor TSN out of the hockey business and turned CBC into a subordinate.
[Eh Game: Bob McKenzie tweets the bad news for TSN]
The CBC will continue to be the home of Hockey Night In Canada on Saturdays under a sub-licencing deal with Rogers, but it will be a much diminished Hockey Night In Canada. It will continue to air hockey on Saturday nights as it has since 1952, but it won't be in charge and it won't even get to choose which games it carries.
If one were to read tea leaves, a sample schedule sent out by Rogers this morning has Rogers-owned Citytv airing a Saturday Toronto Maple Leafs game. CBC would presumably pick up one of the other Canadian teams. Assuming that wasn't sent out by accident, Rogers is planning to keep Canada's No. 1 draw for itself.
The deal is simply stunning.
[Puck Daddy: The end of NHL on TSN]
In addition to television rights, Rogers will also oversee mobile rights, Internet streaming, and all radio rights. That includes all regular season games, playoff games and events such as the All-Star Game and draft.
Conceivably, CBC may not even get all of the Stanley Cup finals, though at this point it's doubtful the NHL would want its marquee event airing on Citytv or Sportsnet.
Rogers also controls all highlights and will operate NHL Center Ice and NHL Game Centre Live. It will even oversee advertising sales for NHL.com.
According to a Rogers press release, it will provide multiple game coverage on as many as nine TV channels on any given night. It is also promising expanded pre-game and post-game coverage on all platforms from cellphones to tablets to satellite radio.
As bad as things look for CBC, at least it will still have nationally televised NHL games. TSN, which holds the league's national cable package until the end of this season, has been shut out of the new deal. Its only NHL presence will be 26 Leafs games in Ontario and Winnipeg Jets games shown in the Manitoba region.
Sources say Rogers will maintain editorial control over games on CBC and French-language TVA. That could affect personnel and will likely lead to job losses. The fate of Hockey Night In Canada staff, including Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, is unknown at this point.