Posted in Canadiens, TV

NHL schedule: Rogers will air 32 Canadiens games nationally in 2014-15

UPDATED with correction on national versus regional games, and TVA Sports details.

The National Hockey League has released its full schedule for 2014-15, and a the same time Rogers Media has announced its national broadcast schedule for the same year.

For Canadiens fans, the schedule for that team is posted here, and as we expected, generally the games will be carried nationally if they play on Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday nights, and regionally otherwise. Rogers will carry a total of 32 Canadiens games nationally — 21 on Saturdays, five on Sundays, five on Wednesdays and one on Thursday.

The exceptions to the general Wed-Sat-Sun rule are the following:

  • A Wednesday night game against the Ducks in Anaheim at 10pm on March 4 is not on Rogers’s schedule.
  • The Saturday matinee game on Super Bowl weekend (Jan. 31, against the Capitals) will be regional, however the Sunday afternoon game the next day (Feb. 1, vs. the Coyotes) is national, and will air on City.
  • A game on Sunday, April 5 at the Panthers at 5pm isn’t on Rogers’s schedule
  • Rogers will broadcast the Thursday, Nov. 13 game between the Canadiens and Bruins at the Bell Centre (it’s listed as being on Sportsnet, but Rogers hasn’t definitively decided which channel it will go on yet).

Also as a general rule:

  • Wednesday night games will be on Sportsnet, except where there are conflicts (none of them affect the Canadiens)
  • Sunday night games will be on City (the exception is Feb. 8, when City is carrying the Grammys), and
  • Saturday night games will be on as many as nine different channels — CBC, City, Sportsnet East/Ontario/West/Pacific, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet 360 and FX Canada. Generally, Rogers has booked five early games on Saturday nights and two late games.

The Canadiens will also be playing seven preseason games (eight if you include a red-vs-white intrasquad game at the Bell Centre). Those games are regional, so will air on RDS but not on Rogers channels unless Rogers picks up those rights in the coming months.

Rogers also has the rights to all playoff games regardless of team, plus special programs like the Winter Classic, NHL draft (starting next year) and NHL All-Star Game.

For other teams in the regular season, Rogers will broadcast:

  • All 82 Vancouver Canucks games (at least 25 nationally)
  • All 82 Edmonton Oilers games (at least 22 nationally)
  • All 82 Calgary Flames games (at least 22 nationally)
  • 22 Winnipeg Jets games (all nationally)
  • 56 Toronto Maple Leafs games (at least 40 nationally)
  • 29 Ottawa Senators games (all nationally)*

*Sportsnet said it would be 28 games in its NHL schedule preview on Sunday night, but a 29th was added at the last minute, Rogers tells me. All 29 games are now listed on the Senators’ schedule online.

Despite Rogers’s “no blackouts” promise, there will be blackouts for many regional games. Sportsnet president Scott Moore says “We have the ability to take a limited number of our regional games national.” But the other regional games, whether they air on Rogers or non-Rogers channels, will be blacked out in the rest of the country.

For most of the schedule, Saturday night games are listed as being on “Hockey Night in Canada”, because Rogers hasn’t decided which channel each game will be on. But looking at what has already been decided for October, it’s clear that Rogers gives the Toronto Maple Leafs the priority. CBC will be carrying the Leafs whenever they’re playing on Saturday night, leaving City for the Canadiens, Senators or Jets. The October schedule shows the Canadiens on City on Oct. 11 and Oct. 25, with the Senators on Sportsnet channels, but on Oct. 18, Ottawa gets to be shown on City and the Canadiens drop to Sportsnet.

Sportsnet's regional channels will be split on Oct. 11

Sportsnet’s regional channels will be split on Oct. 11

Unlike CBC, which split the main network regionally on Saturday nights so everyone could see their home team, under Rogers that won’t be happening anymore. If splits are necessary, such as on the first Saturday, it will be the Sportsnet channels that break up geographically.

So on one hand, there will be twice as many games available on free over-the-air television for Canada’s major cities, but on the other hand some regions won’t have their home team on free TV, such as the Senators on Oct. 11 or the Canadiens on Oct. 18.

What about the other 50 games?

Having 32 games airing nationally in English means there are 50 games that will not be. It’s not clear at this point what happens to those games in English. TSN had a deal to air some Canadiens regional games last season, but no announcement has been made about regional rights for the coming season. If Rogers picks up those rights, it could mean more games being broadcast nationally. If TSN does, it’ll be more complicated. We’ll see.

TSN also has regional rights to 60 Winnipeg Jets games, 10 Toronto Maple Leafs games, going up to 26 in 2015-16, and 52 Ottawa Senators games. RDS also has regional rights to 40 Senators games.

What about out-of-region fans?

One question I’ve been trying to get Rogers to answer and it hasn’t yet is how fans outside a team’s home region will be able to catch that team’s regional games.

Rogers promised no blackouts when it announced the 12-year, $5.2-billion NHL deal, but it seems that isn’t actually true. While some more games will air nationally, anything that’s still regional must be blacked out elsewhere.

The Canadiens’ region includes all of Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and Ontario east of Belleville and Pembroke (it’s the same region as that is covered by Sportsnet East). So how do all the Canadiens fans in Toronto watch Thursday night games? It’s still unclear. They might be forced to buy NHL Centre Ice, or maybe Rogers has some other solution for them. We’ll probably get more details when the regional schedule comes out in the coming weeks.

“We are still discussing how we deal with Centre Ice and Game Centre Live,” Rogers tells me. “Both products will continue to be available. We expect to have some answers on that well before the start of the season.”

In French

On the French side, where TVA Sports has the national rights and RDS has all Canadiens regional games, the breakdown is different. We know that TVA will get 22 games, mainly Saturday nights, and RDS will get 60 games. We do know that RDS will be blacked out in southern Ontario and western Canada during those Canadiens games.

UPDATE (June 30): TVA Sports has announced its plans: It will carry the season opener on Wednesday, July 8, as well as all 21 Saturday night games (but not the Saturday afternoon matinee game on Super Bowl weekend), for a total of 22, plus all playoff games.

Don’t blame Rogers

Since news of the schedule came out, I’ve seen a lot of anger directed at Rogers, particularly from Canadiens fans outside of the home region, who will no longer be able to see every game on RDS.

The anger at Rogers is misplaced, though. The real group that should be blamed is the NHL. Rogers would love nothing better than to take all 82 games of each Canadian team national, but the NHL breaks up its TV rights into national and regional games, and imposes blackouts outside of a team’s broadcast region. What’s more, it’s the teams, not the league, that sign the regional rights deals. This is why the NHL dealt with Rogers and TVA, while the Canadiens dealt with RDS, and the Senators and Jets with TSN.

In English, things haven’t changed much in regard to blackouts. TSN Habs was not available in Toronto or western Canada (or, for that matter, to Videotron subscribers), and western teams’ regional games were blacked out on Sportsnet West and Pacific to subscribers here.

What’s different in French is that we now have competition, and the national and regional rights to Canadiens games are held by two different companies. (The decision to split the rights was the Canadiens, who decided to sell them separately to RDS after TVA Sports picked up the national rights.) RDS no longer has the ability to nationalize all its regional games, so we have blackouts.

If you want the system to change, tell the NHL to overhaul its TV rights system in Canada. But don’t expect that to happen before 2026.

UPDATE: A petition has started imploring Rogers to not black out RDS in western Canada during Canadiens games, but as I discuss above, it’s not Rogers that’s forcing this blackout (though they might be able to help stop it if they really want).

16 thoughts on “NHL schedule: Rogers will air 32 Canadiens games nationally in 2014-15

  1. Media Man

    So the wide CBC reach, most of the CBC games will broadcast Leafs’ games, a team that has no chance in hell of winning a cup in my or your lifetime. Typical Toronto-centric attitudes of these major networks all based in Toronto.. as for OTA, I have problems getting City, so CBMT was real convenient…

    Due to financial constraints, I don’t have my Expressvu service at this time…so it’s local for now and people like myself get shafted up the know-you-know what. Like the Bell-Astral merger, this is another bad broadcast deal..but like the one and only Ted Tevan used to say, ” oh almighty dolla, how you make me holla”.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      most of the CBC games will broadcast Leafs’ games, a team that has no chance in hell of winning a cup in my or your lifetime

      But has more fans — and will get higher ratings — than any other team.

      people like myself get shafted up the know-you-know what

      Because you only have two over-the-air TV channels showing NHL games on Saturday nights?

      Reply
  2. Randy Hansen

    This is exactly what I feared since the agreement was announced. I have happily subscribed to RDS for about 15 years so I can watch the Habs play from my couch here in Southern Ont. This deal was always going to mean fewer games for me and your analysis confirm it. I hate this deal.

    Reply
  3. mario

    Is there a possibility there won’t be any Habs regional games available in English this coming season? Seems TSN, which carried Habs regional feed these past few seasons is focusing their regional games to Leafs, Jets and Sens.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Is there a possibility there won’t be any Habs regional games available in English this coming season?

      Sure. Nothing has been announced yet. So those games might end up not being broadcast in English at all.

      Reply
  4. ATSC

    CJNT-DT (62.1) is running it’s over the air transmitter rather low. Something like 4 kw.
    If you’re having problems receiving the station over the air, just e-mail CITY and tell them you’re having problems receiving the signal. Suggest that they increase their power output.

    Reply
  5. mario

    For Habs fans outside the designated regional area, will games on RDS be available in French on Centre Ice?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      For Habs fans outside the designated regional area, will games on RDS be available in French on Centre Ice?

      I don’t know. I’m not sure if that has been decided yet.

      Reply
  6. Allan

    As a lifelong Habs fan who lives in S. Ont., I am totally disgusted with what the NHL has become. It is now a total money grab league not unlike any other U.S. based and run sport. Thank you ever so much, Bettman and Rogers. Hope you rot in hell.

    Reply
    1. ATSC

      I would suggest you e-mail Rogers Media, or one of their networks such as CITY, and indicate your concerns. They will never change unless you indicate what your concerns are.

      For myself, this Rogers situation is an improvement as I will have access to 4 games over the air a week. Two games on the CBC, and two games on CITY. But, with all the Rogers outlets that will be presenting games, I find that a lack of Montreal Canadiens games is a slight problem.

      Rogers Media seems to be programming games over several outlets. CBC, CITY, SNe, SNo, SNw, SNp, and FX-Canada.

      We have 7 Canadian teams in Canada, I think they can arrange to carry all the games of each team over their outlets networks.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        We have 7 Canadian teams in Canada, I think they can arrange to carry all the games of each team over their outlets networks.

        It’s not a question of lack of channels to show the games on. All the national games from all the teams will air on TV. The problem is that Rogers does not have the rights to show most of the regional games nationally.

        Reply
      2. chuck acker

        the big shots running the media are leafies, so they think every1 wants the god dam leafs 5000 times a season

        Reply
  7. AldergroveDave

    Can you point me to where Rogers originally stated there would be no more blackouts? A lot of people think that but I can find anything from them.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Can you point me to where Rogers originally stated there would be no more blackouts? A lot of people think that but I can find anything from them.

      The original release said “The agreement also guarantees there will be no further regionalization of games or local blackouts.” The word “further” is somewhat ambiguous here: Does it mean that regionalization no longer exists, or that it just won’t be worse than it already is? The sentence made many people believe that Rogers was promising an end to blackouts entirely. But apparently it just means that it won’t get any worse.

      Reply
  8. JIM HIGGINS

    HI EVERYONE . I AM A BIG DETROIT RED WINGS FAN . IN ORDER TO RECEIVE ALL THE RED WINGS GAMES I SUB- TO BELL’S ” NHL CENTER ICE” FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS . I AM HOPING THIS SERVICE WILL STILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE UP COMING 2014-2015 SEASON . THANK YOU . JIM HIGGINS LINDSAY ONTARIO .

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>