VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It was game-changer of a deal, now it’s the subject of a new book, Hockey Fight in Canada: The Big Media Faceoff over the NHL.
“It was the first time that a professional league had sold all of its broadcast rights to one company,” explains Globe and Mail sports writer David Shoalts. “[Rogers] got the TV, the radio, and the digital rights all in one package.”
Shoalts has covered the saga from the beginning. “These kind of stories really resonated with readers because it involved a cast of characters they’d been inviting into their living rooms every Saturday night for probably, you know, the rest of their lives.”
Not long after Rogers signed its 12 year, 5.2 billion dollar deal for the NHL rights, it announced some changes to the iconic Saturday night Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.
“They brought in all kinds of high tech effects: the glass floors that looked like hockey rinks, they got rid of the desk.” And they also replaced host Ron Maclean with George Stroumbouloupoulous. “But as things went on, they realized, you know, fans wanted their old show back.”
Shoalts admits Rogers learned a lot along the way. “They found out, as one fellow who had worked for Hockey Night for a long time told me, he said, ‘People will tell you they want change, but they really don’t.”
He adds with the Toronto Maple Leafs and other Canadian teams on the upswing, Rogers may well end up coming out ahead by the time the deal runs out. “So that they would be able to say by the end of it at the very least, ‘You know, we got out of it without a horrendous financial loss,'” he says. “And they got seven more years to run on this thing.”
Rogers is the parent company of NEWS 1130.