The Globe and Mail, at the end of a longer article on a possible new TV channel for CBC Sports, reports that the audience for Hockey Night in Canada actually went up last weekend when they telecasted the Habs game nationally instead of the Leafs, in every region except British Columbia. The increase is modest, and it doesn’t include Ontario (because they still got the Leafs game), where almost half the audience resides.
Still, a ratings increase speaks to CBC’s bottom line, so expect more nationally-telecast Habs games in the future.
The other part of the Globe article says the CBC is in the initial thinking phase of a new amateur sport TV specialty channel. They aren’t even close to going to the CRTC yet, so this is still a long ways off. It might also conflict with the Canadian Olympic Committee, which is also thinking of an amateur sport channel. (UPDATE: The Globe discusses some of the hurdles such a channel might face in getting regulatory approval)
Meanwhile, the CBC has applied to the CRTC for a license amendment allowing CBC Newsworld to setup an HD channel. It’s unlikely to face any opposition, so we could see CBC Newsworld HD within the next few months.