Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Leaf fans (and broadcasters) to dig again for 2007-08

The team makes infrequent playoff appearances, when they do check out the post season it’s but for a cup of coffee and a quick four or five games and the last time Stanley was in Toronto for a parade was in 1967.

Yet Maple Leaf fans will have to dig into the expense account budget just a little deeper next year, the Leafs owners Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment raised ticket prices for next season and now sitting at home and watching the game on the tube is going to be costly as well.

Maple Leafs TV which last season had but eight games broadcast, will feature up to 20 games next season, an added expense for those with access to the digital universe.

But if the fan is taking a hit, imagine how the television networks must be feeling today, the Leafs just finished off negotiations with Rogers Sportsnet which will be expected to pony up 700.000 dollars a game to show the Blue and White at their best and not so best night after night.

TSN long a Leafs regional rights owner will also see the price jump up from the previous payment of 450,000 to the new standard of 700,000 a game.

Perhaps there should be revenue sharing plan in place, 700,000 a game on win nights, 450,000 on those rare nights that the Leafs lose. Split the difference on the overtime shootouts and ties.

It might make the season more interesting not only for the fans but for the accountants as well!

Leafs fans to pay high price - Sports -
Leafs fans to pay high price
Diehards will have to pay more to watch the Leafs in person and on television, too
May 09, 2007
Chris Zelkovich
Sports Media Columnist

The price of being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan continues to go up, both for fans and broadcasters. After Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment raised ticket prices this month, the company is now planning to put as many as 20 Leaf games on its digital channel – an increase of up to eight over last season.

While those without digital TV boxes will have to pay $4.49 a month or $99 up front to watch those 20 Leafs games, that price tag pales in comparison to what broadcasters will ante up for the right to carry them.

According to sources, Leafs regional rights will cost Rogers Sportsnet and TSN about $700,000 a game – a 57 per cent increase over the $450,000 rights fee in the last deal.

That would boost the annual Leafs regional broadcast revenue to $19 million, adding another $3.2 million a year into MLSE coffers. That figure that does not include the team's share of NHL national deals with CBC and TSN, estimated to be about $11 million a year.

The deal gives the Leafs a 20 per cent increase in regional broadcast revenues even though it is selling fewer games. It also substantially increases the value of Leafs TV.

While contract details are still being worked out, MLSE confirmed yesterday its regional digital channel will be carrying more games starting next fall.

"There could still be changes, but we're looking at about 20," said MLSE chief operating officer Tom Anselmi. "It won't be any more than 20."

The remaining 27 regional games, shown only in Ontario west of Belleville, will be shared by Rogers Sportsnet and TSN. Anselmi said Sportsnet would be airing more than the 15 games it carried last season while TSN will carry fewer.

Sources say Sportsnet could carry as many as 25, with TSN dropping to five. TSN would continue to air a package of Leafs national games and is currently negotiating with the league to increase its national package after next season. Anselmi also said the good news for Leaf fans is that those with digital boxes may get the channel free. It is negotiating with Rogers Cable to include Leafs TV as part of a free package included with all digital boxes.

"It's a concept we've been discussing, but nothing has been decided yet," Anselmi said.
That would substantially boost the channel's list of 350,000 subscribers. While subscriptions have more than tripled since the channel began airing Leaf games two years ago, Leafs TV still recorded a $3.7 million loss last year. One of the main reasons for that was that low distribution – TSN has more than 5 million Ontario subscribers – kept ratings and ad revenues below expectations.

No comments: