Two weeks after rumours began spreading, TSN and the Canadiens have confirmed that the Bell-owned broadcaster has picked up the team’s regional English-language television rights from Sportsnet as of the 2017-18 season.
The team has also renewed its English-language radio deal with TSN 690. According to the station, that deal is for five years.
The press releases about TSN’s deal are intentionally vague on details. They speak of “a slate” of games, so it’s unclear if it will be broadcasting all the games it’s entitled to or if, like in the days of the “TSN Habs” channel, it will only broadcast a selection. On one hand, every other Canadian team has all 82 games a year broadcast in English, and the Sportsnet/NHL deal caused TSN to invest far more in regional broadcast rights. On the other hand, Canadiens games are also broadcast on RDS, so not every game needs to be broadcast in English.
The press releases also don’t specify how long the TV deal is for. I’ve asked TSN for specifics and will update if I hear back.
Also unanswered so far is what channel the games will air on. TSN5 is used by the Ottawa Senators, so some sort of overflow channel will need to be used when both the Senators and Canadiens are playing, at the very least. (By my count, there are 15 regular-season games that the two teams play simultaneously — but not against each other — that aren’t part of the Sportsnet national windows.) That, and on-air hirings, will be answered closer to the start of the season.
The deal will give TSN TV rights to all Canadiens preseason games, and up to 50 of the team’s regular-season games, mostly those that don’t air Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday nights. Saturday night games, special games like outdoor games, and all playoff games stay with Sportsnet.
The deal will also mean far fewer nationally-broadcast Habs games, limited to only Sportsnet’s national broadcast windows. All TSN Habs games will be blacked out outside the Canadiens broadcast region.
UPDATE: Sportsnet has released its national schedule, which includes 32 Canadiens games. That’s 10 more than TVA Sports gets for some reason. Sportsnet’s picks include:
- 4/4 games vs. Toronto
- 3/4 games vs. Ottawa, including the “NHL 100 Classic” game on Dec. 16
- 1/2 games vs. Winnipeg
- 2/2 games vs. Edmonton
- 0/2 games vs. Calgary
- 1/2 games vs. Vancouver
- 4/4 games vs. Boston
- 2/2 games vs. Nashville
- The first ever Canadiens game in Las Vegas
- All playoff games
That leaves TSN with:
- All preseason games
- The Canadiens’ season opener
- The Canadiens’ home opener
- A game each against Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver
- Both games against Calgary
- The Vegas Golden Knights’ visit to the Bell Centre
UPDATE (Sept. 15): TSN has announced its Habs broadcast schedule and broadcast team.