Sunday, December 01, 2013

Lazy Sunday # 301: Shaybu Shaybu!

Well, this is going to get interesting…

For those not paying attention. This week Rogers Communications, considered by most to be somewhere around number 3 or 4 in the TV broadcast hierarchy in Canada, took $5.2 Billion it had squirrelled away (probably from exorbitant roaming charges) and bought 12 years of exclusive rights to NHL hockey on every conceivable platform.

Almost immediately, a wringing of hands began over what this might mean to Canadian broadcasting as a whole and the venerable CBC in particular.

Y’see for years, CBC, home to Saturday’s “Hockey Night in Canada” twin bill of games and most of the playoffs, has claimed that Hockey and the money gusher attached to it was what allowed them to make “great” Canadian television.

It also allowed them to make fewer shows overall since it had 3 months of Prime Time taken up by the Stanley Cup Finals. Encouraged them to make cheap spin off hockey related reality shows like “Battle of The Blades”, “Last Man Standing” and the soon to debut “NHL Revealed”. Not to mention green-lighting countless documentaries and MOWs about the Canada/Russia series of 1972 and Don Cherry.

Now, it seems, they’ll have to do something else -- as well as find a way to pay for it.

Meanwhile, over at Rogers, a lot of Cancon will almost certainly be shunted aside so that their City-TV channels can broadcast hockey along with the multiple Sportsnets, since Rogers is committed to making every single game played by a Canadian team available nationwide.

Sample hockey schedule.

That means up to seven games on any given night on competing channels and as many as three in a row on any one outlet.

This might strike some as overkill and have others wondering if there are really enough guys living in their parents’ basements in Burnaby and Woodbridge to attract well-heeled sponsors.

But it’s something Rogers had to do since competing (and so much better at broadcasting hockey) Sports network TSN would’ve been the keeper for most fans when cable unbundling begins.

It also prevents fans from opting for the NHL’s online streaming service “Centre Ice” which blacks out games available on local TV since now everything will be available on local TV.

Gee, I wonder if anybody at the NHL realized that Canadians would have no use for their online package anymore, meaning it will have to be funded by 8 guys in Boston, 3 in New York and whoever is watching at Wayne’s house in Phoenix.

Oh, and of course –- Rogers also needed you to be able to access games on your phone so they can sell more of those. And golly, who doesn’t lust for the thrill of end to end rushes on a 3” screen with a virtually invisible puck.

Hey, are we about to see the return of the infamous “glowing puck” of 1994? And if we are, how many Billions will Rogers have to pay Fox for those rights?

Also --  with $5.2 BIG going out the door on this one deal, will we soon see Rogers going back to the CRTC, hat in hand, to ask for some breaks on the money they currently have to spend on dramas and comedies? Or to “pretty please” bump up their subscription rates? Maybe higher charges for data packages?

I’m thinking that this might actually be one of those cases of corporate over-reach that ends up burning the guy with the deepest pockets more than the competition.

Anybody remember what became of the massive deals that were AOL/Time Warner, Daimler/Chrysler, Snapple/Quaker, and HP/Compaq from which all involved are still struggling to recover?

God knows, it could be quite a while before anybody owning Rogers stock sees another dividend check. And what happens to ad revenue when the hockey market is fragmented over so many games, night after night after…

Rogers just might have to feed the beast with new teams and a population as hockey mad as we are. And where would that be?

Wait. I know…

Shaybu, Shaybu.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

For those who don’t speak Russian, the lyrics are as follows:

Shaybu! Shaybu! Victory will be ours!
Shaybu! Shaybu! Guys, we are with you!
If we have to, we’ll score even more!
Shaybu! Shaybu! Russia is behind you!
Shaybu! Shaybu! Guys, you are strong!
We are the Russian team! We are are the Red Machine!


Anonymous said...

Best analysis yet!

Does someone want to check the paper trail from the CPC to Rogers? Seems like a great way to try to f**k over the CBC just to gain ground on campaign promises.

To me, I feel as if we got back the CBC. As a hockey-loving Canadian, I know our country needs more than a stick and puck for cultural evolution and definition.

Joel Scott said...

Ted Rogers was a very successful shrewd business man. But a few things come to mind with this TV / all platforms deal.

Rogers' heirs have shown themselves to be shameless in their iconization of Ted with their unveiling of a Gauche Statue of him outside Rogers Centre. The Skydome was built mostly with 500 million of hard earned taxpayers money and sold to Rogers for 25 million dollars in 2005. The purchase price was about 4% of it's original cost to build. If anything, there should be a statue of Joe Ontario Taxpayer outside the Centre.

Hockey, our beloved national sport (not lacross as Don Cherry gleefully points out) has been built into this national fever by decades of prime time broadcasting on the CBC. One can say that the latest value added product has essentially come at the taxpayers expense....and now that it's settled into a real cash cow...the people (taxpayers) of Canada have had it sold from underneath them to a private interest for private profit. Make no bones about it, this is backdoor privatization and in most privatization cases there are millions of dollars of taxpayers invested money that is essentially thrown out with the bathwater.

This formula is called Public Money for Private Profit, a formula that is very much skewed in Rogers favour.

I have long been a critic of the CBC and their Canadian content practices, but I have also been a hockey fan and always appreciated what the CBC did in nation building and assisting 35 million of us to keep us united in this, the World's 2nd largest country! To this day, any Canadian could turn on their TV sets and watch Hockey Night In Canada at no charge via broadcast. That unifying glue could now cost us each... monthly cable/data download fees ...and believe it or not, fewer will indulge our national pastime and perhaps fewer will actually give a shit about Canada. Wheeras the CBC was Nation building, Rogers is Empire building....a huge difference.

John McFetridge said...

Rogers certainly overestimated how much people in Toronto were willing to pay to go to an NFL game. It'll be interesting to see what they charge for hockey and what the packages will look like.

Didn't Murdoch Mysteries get better after it went from Rogers to the CBC?

Still, now that Rogers will be using hockey to sign up as many subscribers as possible maybe we'll get an NHL team in Hamilton or somewhere else in the GTA. It can join as an expansion team with Quebec City.