The Globe and Mail is reporting that Bell Globemedia, owners of CTV and TSN, are looking at offering $140million per year over a 10 year period to gain exclusive Canadian broadcast rights to NHL games. This would include Saturday night games effectively ending CBC’s long running Hockey Night in Canada which they have aired since 1952. CBC’s contract with the NHL expires after the 2007-08 season.
Currently the CBC annually pays approximately $65 million for the NHL rights, with this new potential bid doubling that amount it is likely a figure that the CBC cannot compete with. It is reported that on a good year the CBC profits by about $30 million from the NHL broadcasts.
BGM is bidding for both the English and French rights and would effectively cut off CBC and Radio-Canada from hockey broadcasts entirely. They are also seeking cable rights and internet streaming rights.
If they win the rights CTV would carry the Saturday night double headers during the regular season and TSN would have a full schedule of NHL games. Additionally they intend to air games on TSN2 pending CRTC approval of the launch of that seperate sports service.
The bulk of postseason games would air on TSN and TSN2, essentially ending the availability of OTA NHL broadcasts for sports fans. Since CTV does not have the OTA reach of CBC it would mean hockey fans would have little choice but to turn to cable and satellite services for their hockey fix.