RDS Renews Canadiens Regional Rights


After Rogers' NHL deal, Bell Media keeps hockey on its French language cable sports channel as it now bids for Ottawa Senators rights.

TORONTO - Canada's NHL TV rights bubble just got bigger.

Bell Media's RDS cable sports channel has renewed a regional TV rights deal for Montreal Canadiens games for another 12 years.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

But the agreement is key for Bell Media as it has French language subscribers still viewing Canadiens games going forward after the broadcaster was recently outbid by rival Rogers Communications for the national NHL TV rights as part of a US$4.9 billion, 12-year deal.

The latest RDS-Canadiens deal includes continuing naming rights to Montreal's Bell Center for Bell Canada, and covers broadcast rights for 60 regular season games, and additional pre-season games each season.

Bell Media and Rogers are also bidding for separate regional TV rights to Ottawa Senators games as broadcasters look to airing live NHL games to discourage cable and satellite TV subscribers from cutting or shaving the cord in the digital age.

Rogers' Sportsnet cable channel currently has the regional TV rights to Senators games, and so is expected to pay dearly to retain the games in the face of competition from a hockey-hungry Bell Media.

The recent NHL national TV rights deal will mean a windfall for pro hockey league, as Rogers will pay CAN$436 million (US$410 million) a-year, compared to CAN$190 million (US$178.8 million) under the existing TV deal to run out at the end of the current NHL season.