Elliott Price joins Sportsnet, kinda

Elliott Price, right, with co-host Grant Robinson in the CFMB studio.

Elliott Price, right, with co-host Grant Robinson in the CFMB studio.

It was a bit of a head-scratcher of an announcement: Elliott Price is now part of the Sportsnet Network. But what’s the Sportsnet Network?

I asked the parties involved for a story that appears in Monday’s Montreal Gazette, about what Price has been up to since he was let go from TSN Radio 690 last November.

Basically, it’s an agreement for cooperation. Price gets access to Sportsnet’s branding and personalities he can interview on his show, plus Sportsnet’s website hosts his podcast. On the flip side, Sportsnet’s radio stations in Toronto and Calgary get access to Price to give a Montreal perspective on sports stories, and Sportsnet has a “presence” in the market, a benefit that is less tangible.

I could not get them to either confirm nor deny that money is changing hands as part of this deal, but Dave Cadeau, program director of Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto said the deal isn’t financial in nature. Price is not a Sportsnet employee, and he maintains his editorial independence. Price’s show (which has been renamed Sportsnet Tonight with Elliott Price) also carries some Sportsnet-related advertising, including spots for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

It was Price that got the ball moving on this deal, and he said he had been working on it since the beginning. Unlike TSN Radio, which has eight stations in five provinces (in every NHL and CFL market except Calgary and Regina), Sportsnet has only stations in Toronto and Calgary, and so needs some help to cover other major sports markets.

So does this mean we could see other deals like this in the future?

“Could I see it? Sure. Are we thinking about it? No,” Cadeau says. “This is all that is planned.”

Price’s situation is pretty unusual. CFMB is licensed as an ethnic radio station (it is required to broadcast programming in 16 languages for 16 ethnic groups, but there’s no particular limit on the amount of non-ethnic programming it can broadcast otherwise), and so is only sports for 10 hours a week.

The likelihood of Rogers starting a full-time all-sports station in Montreal is virtually zero while TSN 690 is on the air. Outside of Toronto, the market for sports-talk simply isn’t robust enough for more than one station. (Rogers did suggest it might be willing to buy TSN 690 during the Bell-Astral hearings, but it’s unclear how serious that offer was.)

So this represents the next best thing. Sportsnet gets a presence in the city that it doesn’t have to pay for, and Price gets to look a lot more professional and get lots of expert guests by associating himself with this big brand.

Price also is now a regular panelist on Sportsnet Central Montreal, the weekly sports talk show that airs on City Montreal.

Is Price’s show viable?

I asked Price whether he thinks he can get enough advertising to make his show break even. The initial response from advertisers has actually been quite impressive. Since it started as a one-day-a-week show on CFMB, the show has had several local sponsors. He said it was enough that the Sunday show paid for itself, but with the expansion to five days a week (making this a de facto full-time job for Price and co-host Grant Robinson), the advertising demands are greater. He guesses he’s about halfway there, though.

CFMB's main studio.

CFMB’s main studio.

This was my first visit to the new studios of CFMB since the Evanov Radio Group bought the station and moved it to new offices on Papineau Ave. in Rosemont. The building, which doesn’t have any exterior signage, has newly renovated offices on several floors (and half-floors). Upstairs are the studios of sister station AM 980.

The new studio is clean and reflects a the new reality of radio, and the big windows will expose hosts to a lot more natural light than the basement studios the station vacated in Westmount.

CFMB's ground-floor studio on Papineau Ave.

CFMB’s ground-floor studio on Papineau Ave.

UPDATE (Aug. 11): Price is interviewed on Breakfast Television Montreal about his new show.

9 thoughts on “Elliott Price joins Sportsnet, kinda

  1. Steve

    Editorial independence from Sportsnet, does or does not include, if he wants to bring in guests who work for their competition @ Bell Media for example(I’m guessing he’s not allowed having guests from the competition of Rogers Sportsnet)? BTW, he’s been a regular panelist on Sportsnet Montreal Central well before this deal. You wrote/researched the article that appeared in Monday’s Montreal Gazette, during your two week holiday from the paper(or you were only on holidays as Gazette’s copy editor)?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Editorial independence from Sportsnet, does or does not include, if he wants to bring in guests who work for their competition @ Bell Media for example

      Since Price’s show already competes with TSN Radio, he already lost access to TSN personalities, so there’s no great loss here.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      why does Sportsnet Central Montreal air on City, and not, ya know, Sportsnet? It seems odd.

      It fulfils an obligation in City Montreal’s CRTC licence. It used to air on Sportsnet East as well on weekends.

      1. Mitch

        Ah, that makes sense, but it seems weird that it gets no promotion? It’s probably the only local TV show I look forward to watching.

        1. Fagstein Post author

          Ah, that makes sense, but it seems weird that it gets no promotion?

          I’ve brought that up before. It’s unfortunate, but City seems to have little interest in promoting this show.

  2. Graham

    What expenses does Elliott have to pay for exactly? He’s not paying for airtime is he? As far as I see, the only expenses are Elliott and Grant’s income. What is the break even point # in community radio show anyways?

  3. Graham

    Not all true, Dwight Walton seems to be a guest on both shows. The question is: Does Dwight get paid by either Elliott or TSN. Hint: no.

    1. Steve

      During the Rio Olympics, I think Elliot would have much more freedom to bring in talent from normally competing media outlets to Sportsnet. Rogers Sportsnet, TSN, CBC are media partners for Rio Olympics coverage in Canada.

      My question is do the panelists on Sportsnet Central Montreal get paid by the TV show? Elliot Price is a regular,panelist & probably needs the extra money now.


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