Business

Net Worth: Rogers, NHL ink 12-year, $5.2-billion deal

The Vancouver Canucks have already approved their marriage with Rogers Communications... - Wikimedia Commons (author Another Believer)
The Vancouver Canucks have already approved their marriage with Rogers Communications...
— image credit: Wikimedia Commons (author Another Believer)

Rogers Communications and the National Hockey League have shifted their business's landscape for, well, ever.

On Tuesday morning, Rogers announced a 12-year, $5.232 billion deal with the NHL ($4.9 billion USD). The deal gives Rogers national rights to all games in Canada, including the Stanley Cup Final and playoffs, the All-Star Game, outdoor games, and the NHL Draft (which has been carried, until now, by TSN). Rogers will also stream games on the Internet, wireless and mobile devices, and satellite radio, and will operate NHL Center Ice and NHL GameCenter Live in Canada.

The deal – which would begin for the 2014-15 season – still needs to be approved by the NHL's Board of Governors on December 9 and 10 but, if passed, it would bring the NHL's total rights fees to to $7 billion. The league currently has a 10-year, $2-billion deal with NBC for U.S. games.

"Our fans always want to explore deeper and more emotional connections to NHL hockey, and that is precisely what Rogers has promised to deliver over the next 12 years – channeling the reach of its platforms and the intensity of its passion for the game into an unparalleled viewing experience," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday, in a press release (NHL.com).

"The NHL is extremely excited about the power and potential of this groundbreaking partnership."

The deal also gives Rogers a new Sunday night game, a weekly instalment aimed at becoming its own brand, much like the NFL's Sunday Night Football. The NHL says the new Sunday game "will feature marquee matchups".

As well, Rogers will have pre-game and post-game shows and coverage on both Saturday and Sunday nights.

What does it mean for the network's competitors?

CBC will continue broadcasting Hockey Night in Canada, keeping its tradition alive on Saturday night, but Hockey Night will continue under a rights agreement between Rogers and the Corporation. Same goes for TVA and French-language games.

But under the deal, CBC can only broadcast two games a week, both on Saturday night – one early, and one late, according to The Globe and Mail's Dave Shoalts.

"This may not be the ideal scenario but, it is the right outcome for Canadian hockey fans and is an acceptable adaptation to the role of the public broadcaster in the modern world of professional sports rights," said the CBC's Hubert Lacroix in an internal memo published on SteveLadurantaye.com. "A world in which partnering with a wide array of other actors is a key to success."

Lacroix said the CBC "pays no rights costs for the broadcasting of hockey games" and that Rogers will sell Hockey Night's advertising and "keep the revenue".

The bigger deal – for the newsrooms and/or their viewers – is that Rogers will assume all editorial control of Hockey Night and CBC's hockey coverage, according to Lacroix:

"So, what does this mean for the CBC going forward? While this deal will result in job losses, the staffing impact would have been much greater had we lost hockey entirely, as CBC is still producing hockey. Preserving HNIC also allows CBC to maintain a capacity to execute a sports strategy and fulfillits existing contractual obligations (i.e. Olympics, Pan-Am, FIFA)"

"Our vision is to build on the NHL's legacy in Canada with an emphasis on storytelling, innovation, and technology – weaving the NHL, its teams and its stars even deeper into the fabric of Canadian culture," said Rogers president Keith Pelley. "Today's announcement significantly increases the value of our premium Sportsnet brand and reinforces our commitment to making Sportsnet the No. 1 sports media brand in Canada."

As for TSN...

The Sports Network's longtime authority on hockey Bob McKenzie also issued his own sort of informal press release on Twitter Tuesday, addressing anyone's questions of the network or its talent:

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