Rogers' exclusive deal with NHL creates new lineup in sports media

OBJ Staff
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Shares of Rogers Communications Inc. and BCE Inc. were down slightly Tuesday following a major deal that will affect how hockey-mad Canadians get their NHL fix for years to come.

(Stock image)

Toronto-based Rogers will pay $5.2 billion to the National Hockey League for broadcast and multimedia rights over a 12-year period beginning with the 2014-15 hockey season.

That will likely freeze out BCE's TSN specialty sports TV channel, which has rights to televise some of the NHL games until the end of this season.

BCE shares slipped less than one per cent to $46.54 in early trading while Rogers stock dipped less than one per cent to $46.41 after the deal was announced before markets opened.

Rogers will use the NHL rights as part of a multi-media strategy that includes the Sportsnet specialty television channels, Rogers Wireless and Rogers Cable.

But Rogers will sublicence the rights to Hockey Night in Canada to the CBC and TVA, a private-sector francophone network in Quebec.

TVA will have French-language rights for multiple platforms, providing its parent company Quebecor Inc. (TSX:QBR.B) with content for cable and wireless systems throughout Quebec.

Quebecor shares were up slightly, rising less than a per cent to $26.62.

Bell Media wouldn't comment if there would be any layoffs at TSN, but CBC is expected to have job losses.

In an internal memo, CBC president Hubert Lacroix said ``while this deal will result in job losses, the staffing impact would have been much greater had we lost hockey entirely, as CBC is still producing hockey.''

TSN said it has the rights to broadcast 10 Leafs games next season and starting in 2013, it will have rights to 26 regional Leaf games, Bell Media spokesman Scott Henderson said in an e-mail. TSN also has a deal to broadcast more than 60 regional Winnipeg Jets games through 2021, he said.

"We submitted a bid we believed was valuable for the NHL and appropriate for our business, but were ultimately outbid."

Bell said it's open to Rogers selling some rights to broadcast playoff games.

"We've worked successfully with other broadcasters in the past in delivering hockey, Olympics and other sports content and would be open to doing so here," Mr. Henderson said.

Organizations: Rogers Cable, National Hockey League, CBC BCE TVA Quebecor Inc. TSX Bell Media Winnipeg Jets

Geographic location: Quebec, Canada

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