Friday, December 08, 2006

CBC still the favourite to hold onto Hockey Night in Canada programming

The NHL's contract negotiations with Canadian broadcasters continue, and according to William Houston at the Globe and Mail, the CBC is still the front runner to hold onto the lucrative and iconic Hockey Night in Canada programming.

The CBC which gains much in profits and visibility from their Saturday night doubleheaders and dedication to playoff hockey is in a bit of a programming tussle with a conglomerate of CTV/TSN, a scrap that should see the NHL receive a fair hunk of change for the appointment like television programming.

While its hard to believe that the NHL would actually give up the partnership it has forged with the CBC over the years, a situation that has been beneficial to both entities, there is some talk of some changes coming to your television set soon.

TSN stands to benefit from an increase to the NHL schedule, with a dedicated Wednesday night of Canadian team double headers and an increase in the amount of Canadian teams that they will be allowed to cover during the playoff rounds.

The sports network has built up a loyal following of puckheads with it's innovative broadcasts and the features it runs on the network during the week, the anticipated changes to their schedule will be a reward for their hard work in helping to reinforce the NHL brand across Canada.

The heated battle over hockey rights in Canada is in stark contrast to the situation in the USA, where the game is all but given away to NBC for a once a week showing on a Saturday and hidden away on a collection of cable outlets that seem to have more than a few distribution problems.

Perhaps this realization by the NHL that hockey has a home in Canada might be beneficial in the months to come, considering the amount of empty seats we see on those televised games from the USA, relocating a few of the more desperate teams to a more hospitable climate might be a wise move.

If nothing else, they'd fill the stands and sell the advertising on the tube, frankly if the NHL is interested in making some money they could do a lot worse than returning the game to some of the key Canadian markets still on the outside looking in.

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