Bell Globemedia Makes HNIC Bid

We foresaw that the CBC would face tight competition for its hockey properties after losing the Olympic broadcast rights. This was confirmed today with the announcement rumour that Bell Globemedia has bid $1.4 billion over 10 years for the complete cable and network hockey rights in Canada. CBC currently pays $65 million for the network rights, but with the TSN and RDS cable rights added in the NHL sees $92 million a year, far below the $140 million a year bid for the CTVTSN broadcast arrangement.

The CBC, holders of the broadcast rights until the end of the 2007-08 season will certainly not be able to compete with that package since they lack their own cable outlet. Their only hope is to be given credit for the icon that HNIC has become on the CBC in the last 50 years and a desire by the NHL to not bundle the rights together for such a long term. The NHL will not likely be concerned with having one rights holder or a 10-year deal considering the amount of money thrown at them so I expect the private bid to be accepted. While I oppose the influence of big conglomerates on sports and society in general, this has been inevitable. A private broadcaster will end up with these properties; only in Canada could a private broadcaster hang on to them into the 21st century.

As for the CBC, this may end their sports right holder monopoly they have enjoyed for the past 25 years. With an estimated profit of $30 million a year from HNIC and the loss of the Olympics after 2008, it is very likely the CBC‘s sports department would be disbanded, likely meaning the departure of the CFL broadcasts from the CBC as well. While this would be good news for fans having suffered with the CFL on CBC broadcast crews for years, it may not bode well for the CFL if a competitor is taken out of the process. The CFL‘s agreement expires after the 2007 season.

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