TSN will still have curling's Skins Game, just not skin in the best game you can name.
As the network's new correspondent Ron Burgundy would say, "Knights of Columbus, that hurts!"
Across the country and throughout the hockey-invested portion of the U.S., many sports fans either went to bed and woke up not knowing what to think, but only knowing Canada's sports media landscape has changed overnight. From the looks of reports from its own insider Bob McKenzie, TSN, which covers the National Hockey League as well as any major media portal, is set to be displaced after the league decided to only partner with two networks. The decade-long deal would take effect in 2014 and would "nearly double" the league's average annual rights fees. Sports Business Journal reported that TSN's parent company balked at meeting the NHL's price. That opened the door to a "power play" by the apparent big winners, CBC and Rogers.
That cost will likely be passed on to consumers. One plus side might be that, for example, an Calgary Flames- or Edmonton Oilers-loving cable subscriber who lives in Ontario won't be subject to blackouts.
Gamechanger doesn't begin to describe it. While CBC has the Hockey Night In Canada doubleheader on Saturdays, Don Cherry and the Stanley Cup final, TSN typically offers better and more timely analysis, along with saturation coverage of the trade deadline, NHL draft and the July 1 start of free agency. Having no national rights and the commensurate ad revenue makes it difficult to have "resources [that] are second to none" to throw at the sport.
From Rob Brodie (@post_brodie):
This is a massive blow for a network which has built a large part of its operation around the NHL. The network still does have regional deals in place with the Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets, but to not have a presence with national games is nothing short of stunning after all these years.
Already lots of speculation out there that this was a CBC-Rogers power play. There had been plenty of talk for months that TSN, along with CTV, would make a major push to land Hockey Night in Canada, the venerable Saturday night tradition that has aired on the CBC since 1952 (and is the public broadcaster’s biggest revenue producer). Instead, it appears the tables have been completely turned.
According to the SBJ report, the new Canadian television contracts will include a new ‘Sunday Night Hockey’ franchise — similar to Sunday Night Football on NBC — that will air on Sportsnet, which would likely get its hands on several rounds of Stanley Cup playoffs as well. It’s also possible coverage of the NHL all-star weekend could shift from CBC to Sportsnet as part of the new deal. Other ancillary programming, such as the annual NHL draft, also falls under the league’s broadcast rights umbrella. (Postmedia)
(TSN also has English-language regional rights for the Montreal Canadiens. It is due to start sharing its Leafs rights in 2015, but the Jets deal is locked in until 2021.)
Once this becomes official, there will be plenty of time to discuss the impact on sports media consumers throughout the country. One gets the sense the TSN 30th anniversary celebration next year might be pretty muted, with a lot of on-air talent scurrying to land on networks with more live NHL coverage. On some level this all part of the media wars, but it's also the end of an era and it's understandable that loyal viewers are upset.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to email@example.com.