Naturally, following a deal yesterday that shifts the entire Canadian TV landscape, there has been a whole lot of speculation about just what the hell the heavily hockey-dependent TSN, who have been frozen out of the incoming 12-year national NHL TV and digital media rights deal, might have to do as they search for content in the wake of such a large loss to their main competition.
For example, Morgan Campbell wrote about the potential challenges today for the Toronto Star, noting that additional basketball coverage could certainly be an option for the network during the winter months, though the audience for the NBA– and its lone Canadian franchise– will be dwarfed by the numbers pulled in for their competitors’ hockey package.
Interestingly, though, Campbell cites one of that network’s main strengths:
TSN has a strong track record of developing sports properties into strong national brands. Under TSN’s direction, the world junior hockey championship has developed into Canada’s equivalent of the NCAA’s March Madness — the highest-profile, highest-stakes competition for the best amateurs in the sport.
The network has also been the exclusive broadcaster of CFL games since 2008, building that league into a powerful television franchise. Last year’s Grey Cup drew 5.8 million viewers, and this season’s Western final was the country’s most-viewed sports event two weekends ago, outranking Hockey Night in Canada.
Doubly interestingly, it’s not just TSN who faces this predicament, of course, but their French language counterpart, RDS. And if you read the title of this post, you already know where this is going…
While it may not be winter programming to counter what Rogers and their new partners will be offering, uh… there’s one idea that could prove rather intriguing, and that Jon Morosi, Keith Law, and Jonah Keri got to talking about yesterday on Twitter (which, for some reason, I’ve Storify’d below!):
Now, obviously there would be some obstacles if anybody at Bell Media actually wanted to get serious about this– aside from the ones you’ve already ascertained, by their being delineated above.
There’s not necessarily an opportunity to acquire a team at the moment (though the situations in Oakland and Tampa aren’t exactly idea). Expansion doesn’t seem to be on the cards any time soon (though Paul Beeston has said he’d welcome Montreal baseball back, and, rightly, thinks two leagues of 16 teams would be ideal– i.e. no more interleague at all times!). The current stadium, though being brought up to code for Spring Training baseball next March, is not remotely a viable facility, and the cost to build a new one will be astronomical.
On the plus side, though, Bud Selig is on his way out, and maybe a new voice in the commissioner’s office will make for a change in the procees. And, of course, there is already a group pushing for a return of the Expos– the Montreal Baseball Project, and Warren Cromartie.
Hey, you never know, right? It’s pie-in-the-sky stuff, for sure– I definitely wouldn’t be one to bank on it, myself– but I don’t know… maybe yesterday’s news helped make a resurrected Expos club a step closer to reality. That’d be alright.