Even though it won’t have a lot of NHL hockey games to fill them with, TSN is planning to expand from two to five channels this fall to allow it to broadcast more sports programming.
Along with that move comes a desire for more programming, and in addition to more live sports and different time zones for SportsCentre, they’re going to add “local hockey programming generated by production expansion at TSN Radio stations in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg and Edmonton.”
TSN tells me that this will mean installing television cameras at those TSN Radio stations. “We will announce specific programming details later this summer, but we are looking to build on the success of our TSN Radio programming and integrate new content on TSN channels,” said Greg McIsaac of their PR department.
Currently, TSN2 airs televised versions of the Mike Richards morning show and Dave Naylor afternoon show from TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto (at least when it doesn’t have live events that are more important). After the expansion to five channels, we could see similar things done to Montreal’s TSN shows like Mitch Melnick’s afternoon drive show, or the morning show with Shaun Starr, Elliott Price and Rick Moffat. The details won’t be announced until later, so we don’t know if this will be a daily thing, or weekly, or maybe just Habs pregame shows. Lots of possibilities are in the air. But what we do know is that TSN Radio 690 personalities should expect to see their faces on TV more often.
TSN’s need for additional channels became clear during the first round of the NHL playoffs, when it had a Raptors game and two NHL playoff games airing simultaneously. The Raptors were the priority, pushing the Boston-Detroit game to TSN2. The New York Rangers-Philadelphia game, which was originally scheduled to air on TSN2, had no place to go, so TSN cut a quick deal with Rogers to air the game on Sportsnet 360. Once TSN expands to more channels, this won’t be necessary.
Of course, TSN loses NHL playoff games starting next season, but as its president tells the Globe and Mail, there are hundreds of hours of programming in other sports that it can’t air live because it doesn’t have the space. Sports like tennis are particularly hard, because in early rounds you might have one or two feeds showing big stars, then one or two others showing Canadians. Channels quickly fill up.
The big question will be about carriage. Most major distributors have added TSN2, but some still don’t have it. And putting three more channels, all in HD, takes up a lot of bandwidth that is in short supply these days. We can assume that Bell will be quick to add the extra channels, and maybe Shaw as well, but for cable providers like Rogers, Cogeco and Videotron, the decision might be harder to take.
The addition of more channels with more content will also likely coincide with demands from TSN for higher wholesale fees from distributors. According to CRTC data released last week, TSN gets an average of $2.57 a month from its 9.07 million subscribers (this includes TSN and TSN2), which is a very high fee for a specialty channel. In 2009, it was $0.87 per subscriber per month on average. As its deals with distributors come up for renewal, it’s demanding much higher subscription fees. And distributors will pass those costs along, either by raising their rates overall or by pushing TSN into premium packages that will start costing a lot more.
In other words, TSN is getting better, but we’re still the ones who are going to have to pay for it.
That maybe well and good. As a subscriber to Videotron, will be able to see the new channels? Presently we do not access to CTV 2 or HBO 2 on Videotron.
That depends on Videotron. The new channels were just announced, so it’ll be a while until we find out which carriers will add them.
HBO 2 is not available in Canada. As for CTV Two, it is available where there is a CTV Two station (Ottawa/Gatineau). Elsewhere, there’s not much point in carrying it since it has no original programming besides local news.
For what it’s worth, CTV Two BC sometimes carries overflow Vancouver Whitecaps MLS soccer matches when there’s no room on TSN, TSN 2 or regular CTV BC.
All of this sort of makes me laugh, because it’s hard to tell which story the major players want to work with.
One one side, they scream “We can’t add new HD channels because we have no space!” and then on the other hand they open new HD channels of their own and magically find space for them. I am shocked that the CRTC puts up with this sort of crap.
Space isn’t a made-up issue. And I suspect that Bell’s competitors will be hesitant to jump on board for exactly that reason. They’ll want to be assured that the demand for TSN3, TSN4 and TSN5 will be sufficient to justify the extra bandwidth being devoted to them. Not to mention that providers anticipate the launch of new must-have channels when they say they don’t have much space.
But yes, it’s always a question of priorities. When a big channel like AMC or FX Canada or beIN Sports comes on the scene that puts competitive pressure on them and could be a factor in people deciding to switch, they’ll find ways to make room.
As a Bell sat TV subscriber, I get all the Bell Media stuffs in 1080i (TSN, TSN2, CTV2 etc.) but not CKMI-DT, CFHD-DT…
Will the Montreal Canadiens regional English games be on one of the TSN channels?
I’m not sure if the idea is to replace the regional channels with these. We also don’t know if TSN will have the rights to English regional Canadiens games next season.
On the subject of Habs regional games on TSN, I find it odd that with the regular season over, and all the regional and national deals in place for next season and beyond, TSN and the Canadiens haven’t announced a regional package for next season as of yet. Why? Is it because they don’t make money? Production costs are negligible because they can pool with RDS regional broadcasts. So why the delay? Is a Senators regional network more valuable than a Habs network covering both regional areas? I find that hard to believe.
It could be any number of reasons. Negotiations could still be ongoing. Maybe TSN and Sportsnet are fighting over those rights. Maybe there are complications in negotiations. Or maybe something entirely different.