It was the worst-kept secret in the radio industry: Bell-owned Team 990 has secured the English-language radio broadcast rights to Canadiens games for the next seven seasons.
No financial details have been announced for the deal, but it’s clear that the station is putting some serious dough into this contract, because losing out again to Astral-owned CJAD was simply not an option. You can’t have an all-sports radio station that doesn’t carry broadcasts of the most popular sports team.
No announcement has been made about the play-by-play team yet, most likely because one hasn’t been decided. Still, rumours are spreading wildly, everything from Shaun Starr and Elliott Price to having the CJAD team move over to using the TSN play-by-play to bringing back Dick Irvin and the reanimated corpse of Danny Gallivan.
Okay, I made that last one up.
Though it’s great news that this little station that could has scored this contract, it’s a bit worrisome for critics of Canada’s media oligopolies. When Mike Boone wrote about the deal a couple of weeks ago, he said it was helped significantly by a deal Bell signed for regional English-language TV rights on TSN. Bell’s business agreements with the Canadiens are many (though Bell itself does not own the team), from the naming rights to its arena and practice facility to its French-language TV rights to mobile rights to broadcasts.
This deal takes Bell one step further toward doing with the Canadiens what Quebecor wants to do with a Quebec City hockey team and what Rogers wants to do with most of the professional sports coming out of Toronto.
There’s also, as one Team 990 personality told me during their recent 10-year anniversary party, the problem that the station might be restricted a bit in what it can say about the team. Doing impressions of Jacques Martin might not fly so well when you’re the official broadcaster.
What about CJAD?
Though it certainly can deal with not having the Canadiens easier than Team 990 did, CJAD is still going to have to find a way to fill hundreds of broadcast hours every season. And they’re going to have to deal with the loss of advertising that comes with losing such a big audience-getter. There’s no word yet on what they’re planning to do.
There’s a story in The Gazette and some discussion in the Radio in Montreal group.
UPDATE: Some comments from the peanut gallery on Hockey Inside/Out.
For what it’s worth, these kinds of conflicts exist all over the place in the NHL, in even worse ways than what you’re describing here. I mean, some of the Leafs games are broadcast on a station owned by the same company that owns the team. How can you expect any kind of integrity when the same person who signs the players’ paycheques also signs the broadcasters’?
In Philadelphia, it’s the same deal, but, again, worse: Comcast owns the Flyers and now not only are regional Flyers games broadcast on the Comcast Sports Network, you’ve also got their national cable games and national over-the-air games on networks (Versus – soon to be NBC Sports Channel – and NBC) owned by Comcast.
And in Ottawa, there’s the ununusual (to be charitable) situation of having a radio analyst (Gord Wilson) who is straight-up an employee of the team! His main duties are as a game analyst, but he also makes videos for the club’s website as part of a little division they run called “Sens TV”.
It’s all really unseemly, but Montreal is and will remain far from the worst offender in the league even after this goes through.
Hey, don’t diss Gord Wilson. I went to high school with him and he is a great guy.
The Habs move to The Team will ensure the station’s longevity. 990 will make their budget with the new ad revenue alone. They need to keep Rick Moffat. Consistency in the sound is important.
Consider what the Expos broadcast would have sounded like if Dave Van Horne was replaced every time they jumped between CJAD and CFCF (CIQC). Oh right, remember Joe Cannon?
If not Moffat, Elliot Price would be a great backup or third man in the booth. Price is a great baseball announcer. And a great announcer. Moffat is the better hockey man.
The Team 990 waits all these years to get the Habs games and the first thing they do is bring in a CJAD guy? No chance of Rick Moffatt doing play by play.
What’s In A Name – It dawned on me today, Moffat wouldn’t move over for the very reason that he announces the Als games. His contract may be with the Als and AD.
josh – And there are plenty of people who listen on the radio. The stations wouldn’t fight for the rights if the advertisers didn’t pay. The advertisers wouldn’t pay if the ratings weren’t there. Also, it’s much easier to listen to the radio than it is to watch it on TV while I am driving.
YES!!!! No more boring hockey on the radio!
Now if only CJAD can get rid of the football as well….
Makes sense for a all sports talk radio station to carry sports. CKGM-AM 990 (Team 990) should not be looked at as the little station. Looks who owns this station. Maybe they’ll have tailgate parties on Greene Ave. when the Habs are playing out of town.
As for CJAD-AM 800, how about some country music. Oh okay, I forgot, music sucks on AM radio. I’m sure they’ll find something to talk about then.
Does anybody still listen to AM Radio? I don’t even think I know how to switch my car radio from FM to AM. Just joking. Keep smiling.
Steve, first a comment: Considering that the Gazoo is charging for access now, linking to stories there is a lost cause. I know you work there, but since most of us used up our free story count at the start of the month, there isn’t anything else we can read there anyway.
As for CJAD, I think this may actually help them in the long run to focus on their “news talk” nature. I think their after 6PM radio time has often suffered because whatever was on was “alternate to hockey”. With a 7 year contract over at 990, I think they can move on and try to build a night time listenership based on actual radio shows as opposed to the hockey. I would suspect however that there will be significant cutbacks in their sports department, probably down to 1 or 2 people total, and perhaps the dropping of the sports right before the news, replaced by perhaps some sports news at the end of the news package.
Feel free to not click on them. I’d also link to other media talking about this, but unfortunately there aren’t any.
Probably. I’m sure Dan Delmar will be happy to have a more predictable schedule. But there’s also the possibility that CJAD cuts back on programming because of its reduced budget and we start seeing poor-quality or even syndicated programming during evenings.
I think they learned their lesson on the evening syndicated stuff from Toronto – it sucked, it wasn’t relevant to the listeners, and they tuned out.
They really do face an issue in the 7pm to 11pm areas. The comedy show does well, and the overnight “coast to coast AM” is horrible but not harmful. Getting people who are home to tune in to AM when they have tons of other choices is very difficult. They are also still facing a big demographic problem, trying to sneak the station down to a younger audience, most of which don’t know how to turn to AM or don’t have AM on their Ithing. Dan Delmar is actually pretty good, the on air people that are often with him seem to be helping out, but it is a very, very tough marketplace to crack.
I could easily see a syndicated entertainment package coming in. I could also see them deciding to play a “non-official broadcaster” role for the Canadians, perhaps running a hockey tonight style program at 7 every night, shifting to “sports tonight” after hockey season, mixing in football, baseball, and the like for a one hour show. Keeping people tuned in is pretty much key.
does it really matter who does the radio broadcasts of the Habs? unless you live in a cave or don’t own a television, why would you listen to the game on the radio ? With high definition tv, if i can’t watch it on tv, i won’t listen to it on the radio. The play by play job will probably go to Denis Casavant & Chris Nilan. Elliott Price was bad as a baseball announcer and he knew the game, he’ll be even worse doing hockey games.
There are plenty of reasons to listen to the game on radio, and most have to do with not being able to watch it on TV. Many workplaces have it on – fast-food cooks and bus drivers, for example. Anyone who for some reason has to be in a car during the evening will also listen to the game on the radio.
But sure, radio ratings are nowhere near TV ratings. That’s why this deal seems like an afterthought to a TV contract.
There are also those people who prefer the radio broadcast and who sync up their TV with the audio from the radio. Happens a lot with baseball fans in Toronto, for instance.
But, this is also a lot harder to do in the days of digitial cable and satellite.
This is going to suck I like CJAD for Hockey games they are a good station
Well at least they will have Terry back to save CHOM.
That’s just funny. Unlike Terry. Who has no talent and isn’t funny.
Fagstein, you wrote: “CJAD is still going to have to find a way to fill hundreds of broadcast hours every season”.
Why? CJAD is able to fill those hours during the NHL off season, why can’t they just continue with those shows next Fall?
I didn’t say it will be difficult to fill those hours. They’ll probably just air the stuff they air on nights the Habs don’t play. But it’s still a hole to fill.
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Wow!!! what a surprise but a nice one at that since a few years i have turned away from CJAD dont like the radio announcers that much except for Rick Moffat who did the Canadians Play by Play and did a great job at that, would be nice to see him move up the Dile to 990 as the voice of the Canadiens we have known for so many years.
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Thank god Rick Moffat is gone. He is the reason the Habs didn’t win the cup yet.
Team 990, please bring Dino Sisto back…
I am so happy to hear about this!!!!!!! CJAD SUCKS as a radio station! Astral Media has ruined the station almost entirely. It all started when they booted Sol Boxenbaum out with his entertaining nightly show Last Call With Sol and replacing him with a syndicated show where Montrealers rarely call in on.
I can’t say how many times I have tuned into a Habs game on CJAD and had to listen to Rick Moffat happily chuckling away even as the Habs were losing! I am sure he is a good guy but let’s face it, he is no Tony Maranaro or Mitch Melnick or Matthew Ross. Even PJ Stock would have been better. CJAD’s broadcast was old, outdated and totally boring. The best thing is, now I don’t have to change my radio dial when listening to the game and then the amazing post game show with Tony! He seriously knows his hockey.
GOOD FOR YOU TEAM990!!!!!!! Thanks Bell!!!!!!!!
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