I’m a guy who always loves to look at different angles when it comes to sports stories. I don’t know if I’m good at it or not, but I try to take a different angle/approach to things. I’m big on going the opposite way. When everyone zigs, I zag. Well this time I don’t know that I’m going against the grain with this opinion, but I sure as heck haven’t heard anyone else bring up this comparison.
In the midst of an out and out media war in this country between Rogers and Bell right now, Rogers steps up to the plate with a 5.2 billion dollar bombshell this week and acquires full control over the NHL broadcasting rights in Canada. It is ground breaking, it is a huge blow to TSN, it’s a blow to Hockey Night in Canada (despite what the people at Rogers are pimping right now), and it got a little disgusting how much the people at Sportsnet were patting themselves on the back this week, but you really can’t blame them.
Now, I doubt they make money off of it. But the thing is, its not about the advertising dollars for Rogers. If they make money, that’s a bonus. I don’t believe the networks that have the NFL in the US make money off of it. The reason they pay so much to get the broadcasting rights is to promote your other programing. Rogers will benefit this way with the NHL, but this is about Rogers building towards having a monopoly in this country. By no means are the people at Bell Media saints. But you really do get the sense that Rogers goal is to eliminate Bell.
I keep thinking about that commercial for FX and how at the very end of it they say “not available on Bell”. Its like they go out of their way to point that out. Thanks Rogers, but the shows are available in many other ways (iTunes, CinemaNow, anyone who has American Netflix), so really you don’t NEED to get FX like they want you to believe. I watch Sons of Anarchy and The League on iTunes, I’ll gladly stick with Bell TV thanks.
But I truely believe that THIS is the ultimate goal for Rogers, and I’ve never got the sense that Bell is looking to do that to Rogers. The philosophy seems to be if you can hurt your opposition than that’s good. They’ll be weakened and fade and eventually there will only be Rogers. So with that said, if you have seen the WWE documentary “The Monday Night War”, then you know what I’m comparing this to.
In that they interview Vince McMahon obviously, and he says that he believed that was Turner’s approach to running WCW. When WCW began being run by Eric Bishoff in the mid 90’s, he started acquiring as much talent as he possibly could. He threw huge money at everyone. Money was no object to Turner. Then they brought in Monday Nitro to go head to head with the then WWF’s Monday Night Raw. Everything WCW did was in an attempt to run the WWF out of business.
Rogers is WCW, they are Turner. And the other part of this is that WCW never put on as good of a show as WWF did, not even close. Well Sportsnet doesn’t do hockey anywhere near as good as TSN does. I don’t know anyone who prefers Sportsnet to TSN. Sportsnet doesn’t have the play by play men as of now to do national games, although I’m sure now that they own HNIC that they’ll at least try hard to have Hughson and Simpson do their national games. Need more than 1 good team though. TSN have 1 and a half great teams doing their games, and I’m sure most can stomach Mike Johnson when having either Gord Miller or Chris Cuthbert doing a game.
So needless to say, I’m pretty skeptical about this situation. The NHL didn’t care about anything else here other than the cash, and frankly you can’t blame them. And you can’t blame Rogers for backing the Brinks truck up to the NHL’s head offices in New York. The fans in Canada will watch no matter what. But what will likely start happening is that Rogers will look to screw anyone who isn’t a Rogers customer in an attempt to get them to switch to their products. Phones, digital cable, anything Rogers will give fans the best programming available.
Meanwhile, I suspect strongly that what they’re doing with HNIC and only having their deal for 4 years is they will slowly shift things to Sportsnet and City TV so that when they do pull the plug on CBC in 4 years there won’t be the out cry from the public that there would be if they did it now. Also, I’m betting pretty good money that over the next 12 years they look to take all their Sportsnet channels off of Bell TV. The company line right now from all the Sportsnet guys is telling the public how great this is going to be for the fans. Sounds like a sales job to me right now. They realize fans in this country prefer there games on TSN and CBC.
I said to a few of my buddies when this deal was announced that this was a dark, dark day for NHL fans in this country. If you want to see more games in this country you already can, it’s called the Center Ice package. Scott Moore is already talking about how the fans will need to pay extra to get all the games they will broadcast, and they now own the Center Ice package and will be the distributers of it. Not good for those of us (48% of the country, likely 80% of Western Canada) who don’t have Rogers.
Its the same feeling I had when I was a die hard wrestling fan as a kid. WCW started taking things over and even at their peak it just never felt right, and it nearly killed the WWF. They never did things anywhere near as good as the WWF. I really hope that I’m wrong about all this and things actually turn out to be great, but I clearly have major doubts about that.
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