TVA Sports announces NHL broadcast details

With less than 24 hours until it becomes the official national French-language broadcaster of the National Hockey League, TVA Sports has announced details of its plans for the upcoming season, including which Canadiens games it will air nationally.

The schedule is much less complicated than the one Rogers announced last week. TVA Sports will carry the season opening game on Wednesday, Oct. 8, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. And it will carry all 21 Canadiens Saturday night games, for a total of 22. All other games (including all preseason games) will be carried regionally on RDS. (A Saturday afternoon game on Super Bowl weekend is regional and so will be on RDS. It’s the only Saturday game that won’t be broadcast nationally.)

TVA Sports will also broadcast the NHL Winter Classic, all outdoor matches and all playoff games, including the Stanley Cup Final, as well as special programming like next year’s NHL Draft, the NHL Awards and the NHL All-Star Game.

The schedule creates an interesting situation where there are 10 games (mainly Wednesday and Sunday night games) that will air nationally on City and Sportsnet in English but only regionally in French. (We still don’t know how people outside the Canadiens’ region, which ends in eastern Ontario, will be able to watch the team’s regional games, in either language.)

In all, TVA estimates it will have 200 regular-season NHL games on TVA Sports and its soon-to-launch companion channel TVA Sports 2. Add about 75 playoff games and QMJHL games, and that’s lots of hockey

Séguin, Lalime lead broadcast team

TVA also announced the broadcast team for its Canadiens Saturday-night games. As previously announced, Félix Séguin (that one, not that one) will be the play-by-play man for those 22 matches. He’ll be joined by Patrick Lalime as an analyst. Also on the team are hockey insider Renaud Lavoie, who will take a position near the players’ bench, and Elizabeth Rancourt, who will recap other NHL matches (similar to what Andi Petrillo did at Hockey Night in Canada).

Dave Morissette will host TVA Sports’s postgame show.

Fans vote on games

Another thing TVA announced is that it will allow hockey fans to choose which games are broadcast on TVA Sports for some nights. It didn’t specify which nights, but assume it’s those in which it’s not obvious which team would be most popular among viewers.

TVA specifically notes that, when the Canadiens aren’t playing, it will focus on games involving the Canadiens’ rivals, particularly the Leafs and the Bruins, and those of particular interest to Quebecers, including the Colorado Avalanche (because of Patrick Roy) and Pittsburgh Penguins (because of Sidney Crosby). No mention is made of the Tampa Bay Lightning, which was also popular in Quebec but much less so now that Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St-Louis are no longer on the team.

TVA says it will announce full details of its NHL schedule by the end of July. It had previously confirmed that it has no plans to put any NHL games on its over-the-air network, even though games will be free-to-air in English on Saturday nights.

UPDATE (Aug. 5): TVA Sports has published its full schedule, which has games on almost every night through the season. Fan-voting night is Monday, but not all Mondays, and none before January. And TVA has already narrowed down the voting to two games for each of those nights.

12 thoughts on “TVA Sports announces NHL broadcast details

  1. Paul Wong

    I thought their already was a deal in place for TSN regional Habs games ?
    I am a little disappointed at Roger’s broadcast plan for hockey to date. I would have figured with all their sports channels they would have been able to consolidate everything on Sportsnet or was their plan to show hockey on their other channels such as city. It kind of feels like you will be scrambling around to find specific games.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      I thought their already was a deal in place for TSN regional Habs games ?

      Not for next season, unless they’ve been keeping it secret.

      I would have figured with all their sports channels they would have been able to consolidate everything on Sportsnet

      Rogers has a bunch of channels, but there are also a lot of hockey games being played on a Saturday night. Even with five games, there are still U.S.-vs-U.S. matchups that it won’t have a channel for.

      It kind of feels like you will be scrambling around to find specific games.

      Saturday night is a bit complex because of all the channels, but Wednesday night games are all on Sportsnet (unless there’s a conflict with the Blue Jays or something) and Sunday nights are all on City (except that one night when they’re showing the Grammys). And I’m sure the various pregame shows will make it very clear which games are on which networks.

  2. John Haley

    You mention regional games are not available in Southern Ontario and Western Canada. How about in Thunder Bay, northern ontario. Will we still get the Habs regional games on RDS?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      No. The Habs’ region ends at Belleville/Pembroke. Northern Ontario gets the Leafs, and the Senators or Jets, depending on location. You can punch your postal code in here to see which teams’ regional games you’ll get. A sample postal code from Thunder Bay shows it’s the Leafs and Jets.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      will Shaw in British Columbia pick up TVA so all hab games will be shown in BC

      That, of course, is up to Shaw. You can request new services be added to their lineup by sending them an email.

      But TVA Sports won’t carry all Canadiens games, just the season opener, the Saturday night games and the playoffs. And these games will be broadcast nationally by Rogers on CBC, City or Sportsnet. For the regional games that are carried on RDS, it’s unclear at this point if there will be an option for fans in western Canada other than NHL Centre Ice.

  3. mario

    I posted the following question on Twitter the other day concerning Habs regional broadcasts in English next season. Why can’t TSN pick up the Habs RDS regional feed and simulcast with TSN690’s play by play?

    With TSN expanding to TSN 1 to 5 next season what else will they show?

    And finally I find it odd that TSN would carry Ottawa Senators regional games over Habs games. The only reason why TSN-Habs channel was poorly watched was because it wasn’t available on Videotron or Rogers in the habs regional network.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Why can’t TSN pick up the Habs RDS regional feed and simulcast with TSN690?s play by play?

      TSN has the resources to present a Habs regional broadcast. The big question is rights. RDS is paying $1 million a game for regional rights to Canadiens games. If TSN would have to pay anywhere near that price for English regional rights, there’s little chance that they would be able to recoup that cost in advertising just in Quebec, the Atlantic provinces and the Ottawa valley.

  4. Neil K.

    I’m pretty sure it would be impossible to synch up the audio and video anyway. I can see several of my neighbours’ TVs from my apartment and even when they’re watching the same channel and show as I am, our pictures are never in synch. Hi-def channels seem to come in faster than standards def channels, and possibly Fibe might not be in synch with Videotron. I know my Videotron cable is “faster” than my friend’s dish. When we’re both watching the same hockey game and we’re on the phone, I see goals a second or two before he does. Same thing with my mom’s classic analog Videotron. So I can imagine the nightmare of trying to have the AM radio broadcasts match up with TV pictures being delivered to screens at different times. Even though the delay is a second or so, it’s disconcerting trying to listen to a description of a game that doesn’t match up to the video.

  5. mario

    Well there is no way anyone would pay $1m per game for Habs English regional games rights. The market dictates the cost.

    I am curious to know what TSN (Bell Media) paid for Senators regional TV rights. Those broadcast fees should dictate what the Canadiens should demand.


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