The National Hockey League trade deadline. That magical moment when NHL fans stay glued to their TV screens with the hope that their team’s general manager will pull off the deal of the century that will get their team to the Stanley Cup.
For TSN, it’s an annual event, filled with analysts, insiders constantly on their phones, and gimmicks to fill time. For Sportsnet, which only really started treating this like TSN does after it got the NHL national rights, it’s a chance to compete with the traditional leader at this game. Both networks began their coverage at 8am, going through past the 3pm deadline.
I recorded both networks from 8am to 5pm so I could compare their coverage. It’s one of the few events you can do that, because unlike game broadcasts or events like the NHL draft, there are no exclusive rights here. The two had a lot of similarities — multiple desks of analysts inside a big studio, an insider guru (Bob McKenzie vs. Elliotte Friedman), on-screen graphics listing recent trades and players who could be up for grabs, and reporters in all seven Canadian NHL markets following their teams’ actions and getting comment from their general managers. They also had several differences. TSN tried to be funny, even getting actors Jay Baruchel and Jared Keeso to do sketches for them. Sportsnet had some fun but it was mostly talking heads.
But, really, who cares about that stuff? I wanted to compare them based on the thing that really mattered: Who breaks the news first.
I compared when the two networks announced trades during their broadcasts to see which one came out first. I also compared when they interviewed players who had just been traded. (There were other journalistic scoops, such as confirming that a player wouldn’t be traded, or a team was done trading, but I left those out of this assessment.)
Here’s how it went. All times are Eastern, and are based on my PVR. There’s an inherent imprecision when it comes to digital television, so the times could be off by 30 seconds or so. For the purposes of determining a winner, I’ve considered any announcement within 30 seconds apart on the two networks as a tie. (Only what’s broadcast on TV counts here. I’ve ignored Twitter, app or other non-TV alerts.)
|Player||Teams||TSN time||Sportsnet time||Winner|
|Thomas Vanek||DET to FLA||11:54:30||11:47:54||Sportsnet|
|Joseph Cramarossa (claimed off waivers)||VAN to ANA||12:07:25||12:08:07||TSN|
|Dwight King||LAK to MTL||12:21:16||12:20:38||Sportsnet|
|Jarome Iginla||COL to LAK||13:09:56||13:00:35||Sportsnet|
|Kyle Quincey||NJ to CBJ||14:07:16||14:09:07||TSN|
|Andreas Martinsen/ Sven Andrighetto||COL-MTL||14:07:56||14:07:46||Tie|
|Mark Streit||PHI to TB||14:28:43||14:30:17||TSN|
|Valtteri Filppula (as part of Streit deal)||TB to PHI||14:35:18||14:35:44||Tie|
|P.A. Parenteau||NJ to NSH||14:51:57||14:51:31||Tie|
|Curtis Lazar||OTT to CGY||14:53:16||14:56:10||TSN|
|Eric Fehr||PIT to TOR||15:10:00||15:12:47||TSN|
|Frank Corrado and Steve Oleksy (as part of Fehr deal)||TOR-PIT||15:21:29||15:29:02||TSN|
|Mark Streit||TB to PIT||15:21:40||15:18:52||Sportsnet|
|Drew Stafford||WPG to BOS||15:30:03||15:31:34||TSN|
|Lauri Korpikoski/ Dillon Heatherington||CBJ-DAL||15:32:13||15:31:52||Tie|
Most of these were very close to each other, and the difference is often as simple as how fast you can get the panel to stop talking so it can be announced on air. Sportsnet got a clear win on the Vanek trade, and TSN was first by quite a bit to peg that Frank Corrado was being returned as part of the Eric Fehr deal. For Iginla, TSN was first with the rumour of his trade to L.A., but Sportsnet was the first to confirm it (or at least be confident enough to go with it — some of these trades were hard to judge because they were reported with varying degrees of confidence.)
The other announcements were all within a couple of minutes of each other.
But by my judging criteria, TSN wins seven, Sportsnet wins four, and four are ties.
After a trade breaks, there’s a rush to get the players involved on the phone to discuss what happened. Here’s how that broke down.
|Player||TSN time||Sportsnet time||Winner|
No real contest here. All three players who spoke to Sportsnet did so after talking to TSN. (There were also interviews with players who had been traded before 8am on trade deadline day, but those were not breaking trades so I did not include them here.)
Both networks carried GM press conferences from Canadian teams and did good jobs of analysis. Though TSN still takes the edge here, Sportsnet has made up a lot of ground in terms of what really counts — breaking news.
Maybe by the time their 12-year NHL deal is done, they’ll be the ones blanketing their late-February broadcasts with promo ads about this news-reporting event (which didn’t report a single thing for almost four hours).