The consortium of private broadcasters headed by CTV has announced a huge lineup of play-by-play announcers, news anchors, former Olympians and other analysts who will travel to Vanvouver and Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It also tells us what networks coverage will appear on.
In English, the team is headed by Olympic veteran Brian Williams, who left CBC in 2006 after CTV won the rights to the 2010 Games. English Games coverage will be carried on CTV’s main network, CTV-owned TSN, Rogers Sportsnet, Rogers-owned OMNI, Rogers-owned OLN (Outdoor Life Network), and ATN, along with Rogers radio stations, CTVOlympics.ca and the Globe and Mail.
There’s also, I’m sorry to say, entertainment (eTalk/Ben Mulroney) and music (MuchMusic) reporting to go along with it. (I’m not quite sure how much music-related coverage there can be of the Olympics, but whatever…)
In French, the team will be headed by Canadiens play-by-play man Pierre Houde and Olympic broadcasting veteran Richard Garneau. French Games coverage will be carried on RDS, RIS Info-Sports, the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network and … TQS.
There’s a certain irony in TQS being part of the deal. Its participation predates its bankruptcy and change in ownership, going back to when it was part-owned by CTVglobemedia. At the time (2005), TQS was supposed to be the primary broadcaster of French Olympic coverage. Now it seems clear that, even if TQS is going to have original Olympic programming and priority for the big-ticket events like hockey, the main network behind coverage in French is RDS.
TQS also has another problem: Unlike Radio-Canada (and to a lesser extent TVA), it doesn’t broadcast outside Quebec. So francophones outside Quebec who don’t get TQS or RDS on cable or satellite (let’s for the moment assume this is a nontrivial figure) are out of luck. On the plus side though, apparently a deal has been worked out to give cable users outside Quebec free access to RDS and TQS during the Games.
Meanwhile, advertisers are noting the highly inflated rate card CTV is using to make up for the $150 million it spent to secure rights to the 2010 and 2012 Games.
I listened to an interview on a Toronto radio station yesterday with Keith Pelley, who runs this whole consortium.
He said that there are 671 hours of competition in the Winter Olympics, and that CTV will be doing 22 hours a day of Olympic programming (with 2 hours set aside for news which will of course be largely Olympic-related). He said TSN and Sportsnet will both be in the 15-20 hour-per-day range. That adds up to something like 800 hours.
Then, as you point out, there’s OMNI, OLN and ATN.
What are all these platforms going to show?
Also in the interview, I can’t put my finger on it, but boy, it sure sounds like the CTV Olympics are going to be a lot more in the vein of NBC than CBC – more human-interest stories, more interviews with the athletes and (uh-oh) more flag-waving.
Probably a lot of repeats of major events. Not a lot is going to happen in Vancouver at 3am. I also expect a lot of events being carried simultaneously on more than one channel, plus, as you say, all the human interest stories and featurettes.
What’s with Brian Williams announcing the technical glitches at the opening ceremonies to the world? Nice going Brian, you just broke the cardinal rule of ‘live events’