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TORONTO – Rogers Media is betting hockey-mad Canadians will watch even more NHL games as it unveiled plans to air more than 500 regular-season games across 13 networks from next season.
The media giant will also see Quebec broadcast partner TVA air another 300 games in French, before blanket coverage of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Putting hockey at the center of Canadian TV’s sporting universe follows Rogers signing a 12-year deal for exclusive national broadcast and digital rights in Canada, starting with the 2014-15 season.
“No sport has ever done what we’ve done with Rogers,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in an Upfront presentation in Toronto on Tuesday.
“It’s the type of exclusivity that sports leagues and broadcasters dream of,” he added.
And likely Canadian hockey fans too, as Rogers and TVA plan to air nationwide up to seven NHL games on Saturday nights.
Rogers will also follow the NFL and introduce Sunday night hockey games.
“Our vision is to transform the fan experience. There will be two conventional networks to deliver increased game coverage on Saturday nights, and we have created a new national night for hockey on Sundays. We will be in hockey communities every week, and we are leveraging all the Rogers networks and platforms to deliver expanded NHL content,” said Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL at Rogers Media, to Canadian media buyers gathered at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Rogers sub-licensed all national French-language rights to TVA, and inked a second four-year sub-licensing deal with the CBC to air NHL games on Saturday nights under the pubcaster’s 62 year-old Hockey Night in Canada brand.
Saturday games will air on the CBC, City, Sportsnet, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet 360, FX Canada, TVA, TVA Sports and TVA Sports 2 channels.
The 12-year NHL deal through to 2025-26 means Rogers has time to execute on its plans before turning to whether and how to renew the agreement.
“NHL hockey coverage in Canada will never be the same,” said Rogers Media president Keith Pelley.
“NHL hockey coverage in Canada will never be the same,” he added.
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