Friday, June 16, 2006

TV curling deal: the pundits weigh in

Here we go again!

For the third off-season in a row, there's much mainstream media ballyhoo about curling TV coverage, thanks to the news of yesterday's bombshell TSN/CCA agreement.

The newser can be seen here on the CCA's site in it's entirety, which includes selected sponsor quotes. It's also on two TV industry sites, Broadcaster Magazine and Channel Canada.

Of course, CBC – now headed off into the coverage sunset with just two years left on its CCA contract – has also weighed in.

As for the aforementioned media ballyhooers, we'll start with two pieces from CP's indefatigable Bill Graveland: his first draft and then his follow-up, which includes quotes from both CCA's Dave Parkes and TSN's Phil King. Graveland also surprised world champion skip (er, now third) and CBC employee Colleen Jones, too.

Next up is Ottawa sports media pundit Rob “Excuse me while I give my head a shake” Brodie, who simply marvels at the long-running soap opera.

Star man Chris Zelkovich has a quick-and-dirty summary; could there be more from him in the near future? Zelk does highlight last year's succesful Vancouver 2010 Olympic broadcast rights bid – made by CTV, TSN, Sportsnet, Rogers TV and radio, OmniTV and Everybody-But-CBC – as the major reason this whole thing went down.

Now for the subscription-only stuff.

Cal Herald/TCN scribe Al Cameron got ahold of veteran CBC curling commentator Don Wittman, who said: Obviously, I'm disappointed. We've been involved since 1961, and now we're out of it. However, I suppose times change. That's the nature of the beast.

Cameron also got a quote from bubbly TSN counterpart Vic Rauter (left in photo), who reportedly ran from the combined TSN/Sportsnet World Cup control centre into King's office when he heard the news. Said Rauter: Thrilled to death, absolutely. It's going to be very special, because it will give us the opportunity to take the two Olympic teams from the '09 trials to Vancouver.

Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix says that in Dave Parkes’ eyes, it’s all about stability:

We learned from experience. On this one, (there's) predictability of coverage and the stability of a long-term partner that can provide the kind of hours this agreement encompasses. It brings back morning draws, it increases the hours of coverage for the Canada Cup and Continental Cup, it does all the things that provide us with stability.

The National Post weighed in with scribe Aaron Wherry, who quoted TSN's King on the then-and-now between last September and today:

I think all of you know our love and passion for the sport of curling. It's funny, we sat out the one year, two years ago – we won't mention how that happened – [but] with that it really came to light how much the network missed the sport, and the people that work here want to get back involved.

But the Globe and Mail's William Houston was the only one to mention (unofficial) financial terms.

Houston calls the deal a “precedent” and says “the agreement involves TSN giving the CCA air time for sponsors and is worth close to $15 million.”

He also reports Parkes saying the CBC was denied a bid because they “couldn’t match the number of hours of programming promised by TSN or provide the promotional opportunites offered by CTV.”

So far, everyone has mentioned the long-standing concern that TSN couldn't match CBC's audience reach, and Parkes' reply:

Our sense is and our research suggests to us that the numbers that we can deliver on TSN in the current environment are every bit as good as the numbers we've been delivering on CBC over the past few years. The proliferation of TSN into households in this country is such that we don't anticipate any decreases at all. As a matter of fact, we may anticipate some increases.

On a final note, CurlingZone is of course the place to visit for all matter of armchair punditry on this topic. Moreover, just about all the conversations at this time of posting seemed to be civil.

Can this mean the CCA is indeed ready to rush headlong into all aspects of the online world? With TSN on board and pitching exactly that, they no longer have any choice.

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