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I Just Hope Grapes Comes Through This Okay
December 1, 2013 8:35 AM   Subscribe


 
If it gets Canada's big-collared bigot off the airwaves, I won't weep.
posted by docgonzo at 8:38 AM on December 1, 2013 [21 favorites]


But what about Curling?
posted by sammyo at 8:40 AM on December 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Earlier in the week, Don Cherry, the love-him-or-hate him CBC hockey analyst, worried publicly about his job under his new Rogers masters. Pelley offered comfort but no details, other than to say they haven’t even begun to strategize on how he could figure into the plans.
“Don Cherry is an icon,” Pelley said. “He’s part of the fabric of our culture
.”

Don Cherry's tailor probably doesn't have to worry just yet.
posted by arcticseal at 8:47 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


For them to ditch the CBC *and* keep Don Cherry would be an outrage.

Also, what's the inside story? How did the CBC get screwed so completely?
posted by pmv at 8:51 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is just a giant fuck you to cord cutters. Want live hockey? Well then fuck you; you're getting a cable subscription.
posted by Talez at 8:55 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Money, pmv. When has it ever been anything else? Don Cherry is 80 (his brain died years ago), so maybe he should take a hint and remove himself before Rogers does.
posted by cooper green at 8:59 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


FYI, they don't have French-language rights, and those of us in Quebec, New Brunswick and eastern Ontario can watch over the air on TVA.
posted by jeather at 9:04 AM on December 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


pmv: These two Star links cover the CBC's negotiations; I should have slimmed down the links in the post, but there was a lot of good reads. There's a lot more on this Cross-Country Check-Up page. Also possibly worth reading is former head of CBC English programming Richard Stursberg's account of the 2006 CBC/NHL rights negotiation. He's a shit writer and by most accounts a prick to boot, but it's still an interesting piece.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:07 AM on December 1, 2013


> FYI, they don't have French-language rights, and those of us in Quebec, New Brunswick and eastern Ontario can watch over the air on TVA.

Mon CBC inlut la Hockey?
posted by benito.strauss at 9:24 AM on December 1, 2013


I'm thirty-three, so watching the CBC get parted out by private interests makes me feel like nothing more than a sad, helpless Atreyu watching the Nothing roll in.

But I'm a bit melodramatic that way.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:24 AM on December 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Talez: "This is just a giant fuck you to cord cutters. Want live hockey? Well then fuck you; you're getting a cable subscription."

Regular season NHL has been largely cable in the US for as long as I can remember.
posted by octothorpe at 9:37 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rogers and Cherry have a long relationship, with Cherry hosting Grapeline on Rogers radio station The Fan 590 for over 25 years; so Rogers may not have any concern at all with keeping him.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 9:37 AM on December 1, 2013


Pack it in Cherry.
posted by RollingGreens at 9:41 AM on December 1, 2013


One of the things I love about the Center Ice channel is that they carry all the local commercials (Local car dealerships, pizza places, the DUI lawyers that seem to dominate the Phoenix market). Watching CBC ads has always been a little confusing, since the shows advertised seem to be either Dragon's Den or a less hard-hitting 60 Minutes knockoff.

But it's also one of the sad facts of life as a US hockey fan, you have to pay extra for a package, or look up whether or not your team is even going to be broadcast once in a blue moon. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is on national television almost every weekend.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:44 AM on December 1, 2013


"This is just a giant fuck you to cord cutters. Want live hockey? Well then fuck you; you're getting a cable subscription."

Uh, I don't exclude the possibility that I'm missing something, but what about NHL Centre Ice?
posted by docgonzo at 9:52 AM on December 1, 2013


Uh, I don't exclude the possibility that I'm missing something, but what about NHL Centre Ice?

Don't you need a cable sub for it?
posted by Talez at 9:58 AM on December 1, 2013


I agree with many of the linked commentators that this could mark an opportunity for the CBC to get back to its roots as a public service broadcaster. Before its long, sad devolution into just another producer of low-brow commercial pap the CBC was highly capable of first-rate journalism, documentary and arts programming. I'm not optimistic about the CBC's chances of reviving itself though, given the antipathy of the current government, the fracturing of the TV market and the influence of the internet.
As far as Don Cherry goes, the sooner that bigoted buffoon is off the air the better.
posted by islander at 10:01 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't you need a cable sub for it?

For Center(re) Ice you do, but there's an online product, Gamecenter Live, that you can buy without a cable subscription. The trouble is that either way, you won't get your local team's games without some proxy trickery.
posted by downing street memo at 10:09 AM on December 1, 2013


For Center(re) Ice you do, but there's an online product, Gamecenter Live, that you can buy without a cable subscription. The trouble is that either way, you won't get your local team's games without some proxy trickery.

Yeah, that's what I meant: GameCentre Live. I see it on my Apple TV. I didn't know that you can't watch your local squad, though.
posted by docgonzo at 10:11 AM on December 1, 2013


It might be different in Canada since all Canadian games are nationally broadcast (right? All the games seem to be on CBC, TSN, or Sportsnet)
posted by downing street memo at 10:15 AM on December 1, 2013


Nope, if a "local" game is on Sportsnet you couldn't get it on GameCentre Live. Local in quotes because Vancouver in my case is 400 kilometres away.
posted by Mitheral at 10:23 AM on December 1, 2013


Also, what's the inside story? How did the CBC get screwed so completely?

The Stephen Harper regime. I can't see it being merely coincidental that this deal would happen now.
posted by philip-random at 10:25 AM on December 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


I was working at the CBC in 2005, when the lockout happened. It started in August, and many of us were privately confident that the lockout would end before the hockey season began because there was no way management was going to miss out on that cash cow. And verily, this came to pass. So we were out for about two months, during which time approximately zero people expressed their annoyance to me about missing anything on CBC-TV (Radio was a different story).

Add me to the list of people who hope (but do not expect) that this will prove to be a blessing in disguise for the CBC. Fuck Dragon's Den and all that bullshit.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:31 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the CBC-- or at least what the CBC was-- and despair over what it has become and for its future. We need a national broadcaster; these battles were fought in the 70s and for a while they were won. Canadian content laws. Funding for the NFB. Funding for the Mother Corps. I hope you are right, The Card Cheat.
posted by jokeefe at 10:55 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, and if Harper could completely defund the CBC tomorrow he would do so. Hate.
posted by jokeefe at 10:56 AM on December 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah, and if Harper could completely defund the CBC tomorrow he would do so. Hate.

My feelings precisely. The guy is such an ideologue that he can only view them as the enemy (reality having a liberal bias), rather than an institution that, for all its nepotism, bureaucracy, other bullshit, really is an essential piece of that intangible thing that holds the country together, stops it from becoming just another ten or thirteen chunks of the US of A. And nothing against the US of A, I just feel the continent works (mostly) fine the way it is.
posted by philip-random at 11:40 AM on December 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


The guy is such an ideologue that he can only view them as the enemy (reality having a liberal bias), rather than an institution that, for all its nepotism, bureaucracy, other bullshit, really is an essential piece of that intangible thing that holds the country together, stops it from becoming just another ten or thirteen chunks of the US of A.

Pretty sure that is a big part of why he hates it.
posted by junco at 11:48 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best case scenario : Folks stop watching the NHL.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:50 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nope, if a "local" game is on Sportsnet you couldn't get it on GameCentre Live. Local in quotes because Vancouver in my case is 400 kilometres away.

It also seems like you won't be able to watch the playoffs either.
posted by Talez at 1:54 PM on December 1, 2013


Supposedly, the 'worth' of an NHL franchise has gone up recently. Living in a town where one of the losingest teams still commands rabid loyalty and $100+ for mediocre seats... I can see that.

I heard in an interview with the CBC exec responsible for negotiating with the NHL that there was such big numbers flying around the table that the CBC, as a crown corporation subsidized by government, couldn't match the multi-billion-dollar commitments required.

I can't see how pulling NHL hockey away from "free" TV completely will be successful, longterm. It's supposed to be our national sport.

Anyway, I never caught the major-league sports bug, hockey included, so I'm hoping the CBC will eventually re-invent Saturday night TV for the rest of us (Canadians).
posted by Artful Codger at 2:03 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, looks like Harper is going to get his way and get to kill the CBC. It was what, this summer when ads on radio got a foot in the door, now this? CBC TV has been garbage for years. Remember when that stupid, pompous fraud O'Leary said on his show that if he was prime minister he would make unions illegal and jail anyone belonging to one? Remember when the CBC refused to even censure him?

Why don't we just get it over with and transfer the entire public broadcasting budget to block grants to Sun News and talk radio?

Also, what geniuses at the CRTC to allow this vertical integration and concentration trend continue apace. They might as well just let someone like Carlos Slim buy every media and telco property in the country. I'm sure he'll give the regulators cushy board positions when they retire.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:20 PM on December 1, 2013


Seems kind of silly to blame CTRC over this - there was no way they could win a bidding war with a big conglomerate like Rogers.
posted by downing street memo at 2:51 PM on December 1, 2013


Also, what's the inside story? How did the CBC get screwed so completely?

It's not a plot by Harper, FFS. $5.2 billion is a lot of money (amortized over 12 years is equivalent to roughly 50% of CBC funding per year at 2013 levels). CBC couldn't afford it, but Rogers could. That's all. Harper had nothing to do with it.

It's a serious situation, since half of CBC's ad revenues come from hockey, and I think the real villain is (as always) Gary Bettman. For the next 12 years hockey is only going to be broadcast to people who can pay for it. It's played by millionaires, and increasingly the only people able to put their kids through hockey are upper-income households. It's an expensive sport.

So I wonder about the viability of the sport twelve years from now in terms of making the NHL money from broadcast rights.

As for CBC, I don't have an opinion, as I only listen to Radio (690 is awesome), which costs a fraction of the price of the crappy television programming, but experiences cuts all the same.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:02 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Regular season NHL has been largely cable in the US for as long as I can remember.

By Canadian standards, nobody in the US watches hockey.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:06 PM on December 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I haven't watched a hockey game in decades, and even way back when I lived in Canada I didn't give a crap about hockey even when I got roped into watching it with other people, but I just have to read the phrase 'Hockey Night in Canada theme song' and suddenly I've got de-de-de-duh duh DUH DUH running through my head.

Some things just never leave you.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:13 PM on December 1, 2013


The HNIC theme left a while back. That's when the CBC began losing hockey, when they refused to license the theme music.
posted by CCBC at 3:45 PM on December 1, 2013


I said it during the last lockout to someone - hockey is a sport played by the rich to be watched by the rich. I was primarily thinking of the pros, but he agreed and pointed out that even at the youth level, the game was so expensive now that the only parents in the stands were those with both the means and the time.

This deal is just the furthering of that, and I think there will be some interesting fallout over the next few years. We might see a lot more local coverage of our junior teams, for example.
posted by nubs at 3:45 PM on December 1, 2013


For those wondering: The CBC's funding hasn't been increased since the 80s. As I recall it was CUT from those levels just a few years ago. They would love to keep a focus on Hockey (as a national activity) and documentaries. Hint: Documentaries don't bring in the advertising bucks, and the goverment isn't paying them to make them. Therefore they've been trying to do stuff like Dragon's Den and that food show to make some money. They were actually surprised they could keep as much hockey as they did last time; the big corporate boys obviously had a lot more money then they did, they just didn't spend as much as expected.

My Mom has worked for CBC for longer then I've been alive, and it has been damn depressing hearing about layoffs for as far back as I remember. I vaguely recall when the CBC Broadcast Centre in Toronto opened. I got tours. They were so proud of how they could do anything they wanted in one building; Props, sets, everything could be build under one roof. Great for both their own productions and selling studio space to movies and such. Slowly they've been selling that capacity off peicemail to pay the bills. Sets and props are both outsourced now. Entire floors of the building have been rented out to help them stay afloat. Last I heard they'd rented out a bunch of space to have a data centre built.

Expect a lot less documentaries and a lot more Dragon's Den in the near future; that is what it will take to keep fulfiling what parts of their mandate they can.

Also: Quebec? Burn in hell. Imagine how much less tied their hands would be if they didn't have to broadcast in both official languages. I'm guessing that would almost double their budget, right there.
posted by Canageek at 7:28 PM on December 1, 2013


Also: Quebec? Burn in hell. Imagine how much less tied their hands would be if they didn't have to broadcast in both official languages. I'm guessing that would almost double their budget, right there.

That's what private stations are for. (Also, fuck you francophones outside of Quebec, I guess.)
posted by jeather at 7:52 PM on December 1, 2013


French is an integral part of Canada, and is not limited to Quebec. There is a French diaspora across the country that has contributed to the building of Canada (including Metis). French broadcasting is a feature, not a bug.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:45 PM on December 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also: Quebec? Burn in hell. Imagine how much less tied their hands would be if they didn't have to broadcast in both official languages. I'm guessing that would almost double their budget, right there.

I can't speak for other provinces, but without Quebec, and being forced to have French spattered everywhere, and that minority of border agents who say bonjour right off the bat, Ontario would take a biiiig step towards its dystopian future as Ohio with odd-looking money.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:59 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


So when people say the CBC "couldn't pay" I think you have to remember that the CBC pays for it by selling ads just like Rogers does. So one of a few things needs to be true:

1 - that Rogers can somehow charge more for ads on the same content than CBC can. Unlikely.

2 - that Rogers is willing to take a loss on this for some reason.

2a - Rogers has a good reason for taking a loss and will perhaps make up the revenue shortfall elsewhere

2b - Rogers simply went too far too fast and will lose money on this deal for 12 years

2c - Rogers will lose money on this deal for now but somehow expects the deal to become sufficiently valuable to be profitable between now and 12 years

Note that 2b, while not the most likely reason, is still a distinct possibility. MySpace started a bidding war for their online ad space and the "winner" of that process lost a ton of money on the deal. Sometimes networks make bad deals. It happens.

More likely is that Rogers is aggressive and is willing to take a loss or break-even on the deal to help them over a hump in terms of viewership or something. It's quite possible that the CBC did the economically rational thing here and walked away from the deal when it was no longer worth it to them. It doesn't take an MBA to point out that Roger's corporate structure is nothing like the CBC's and they don't value media deals the same way.

As someone who doesn't give a shit about hockey, good on CBC for being rational.

Also, it's not a question of the government - HNIC has always been a profit centre for the CBC. It probably funds a big chunk of all the cancon that's on the rest of the time. So this is definitely a big loss for the CBC, but it's not as if HNIC was subsidized by the taxpayers before or something.
posted by GuyZero at 9:14 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also: Quebec? Burn in hell. Imagine how much less tied their hands would be if they didn't have to broadcast in both official languages. I'm guessing that would almost double their budget, right there.

I am also Canadian and I gotta say that is a pretty weird thing to say..
posted by davey_darling at 9:15 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


As for Don Cherry, good riddance - his best before date was somewhere in the 80's. He won't be missed.
posted by davey_darling at 9:15 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also: Quebec? Burn in hell. Imagine how much less tied their hands would be if they didn't have to broadcast in both official languages. I'm guessing that would almost double their budget, right there.

I'm not even sure how to reply to this one. The CBC exists to serve Canadians, not vice-versa.
posted by GuyZero at 9:16 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also: Quebec? Burn in hell. Imagine how much less tied their hands would be if they didn't have to broadcast in both official languages.

somebody needs a history lesson. The short version: there wouldn't be a Canada if there weren't two languages.

Seriously, think it through.
posted by philip-random at 11:08 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


GuyZero: Good point, I didn't think of that. I do wonder if the private companies can bring more to the table as they don't have to use it to subsidize unprofitable things (Such as CBC Radio).

philip-random and other people supporting Quebec: You do know that when the English allowed Quebec to keep speaking French after Quebec was taken over was very unusual for the time, right? Also that comment about there would be no Canada without Quebec: What exactly are you referring too? It had some of the lowest enlistment of any province in both world wars, so possibly 1812? Or do you must mean in a general cultural sense? The only reason anyone still speaks French is Quebec laws that violate the constitution due to Alberta forcing Trudeau to put in the notwithstanding clause. Without that we'd be well on the way to the point where French had slowly been abandoned for the ease of one language. (Yes, I'm one of those people who thinks we'd be better off with one global language. It wouldn't have to be English; I've heard good things about Lojban for example).

So, at what point do we start offering goverment services in Cantonese or other languages? We are only a few years from the point where more people will speak a language other then French then speak French.
I should say, I was a lot less anti-French before spending a few unpleasant months in Montreal, so I could be rather biased.
posted by Canageek at 12:04 AM on December 2, 2013


You do know that when the English allowed Quebec to keep speaking French after Quebec was taken over was very unusual for the time, right?

very unusual but hardly altruistic.

Britain allowed the French folk in Quebec (les Habitants) to keep their language, their schools, their church because they (the Brits) had A WAY BIGGER PROBLEM brewing to the south (which would manifest in the War of Independence). In other words, "Stay the fuck out of that situation," they said to the Habs, ""And we won't mess with you."

Thus was a nation born.

Also that comment about there would be no Canada without Quebec: What exactly are you referring too?

see above.
posted by philip-random at 12:19 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Let's drop the French language derail, please.]
posted by taz at 12:45 AM on December 2, 2013


So when people say the CBC "couldn't pay" I think you have to remember that the CBC pays for it by selling ads just like Rogers does.


1 - that Rogers can somehow charge more for ads on the same content than CBC can. Unlikely.



I think there's a few things to consider here that mean we can't do this as an apples to apples comparison:

1. CBC was paying for the exclusive Canadian broadcast rights for Saturdays and for first choice on playoff series. Rogers is paying for the exclusive Canadian broadcast rights for the week and the playoffs. Which means Rogers is increasing advertising capacity on the content by virtue of the fact that they have games potentially 7 nights a week.

2. CBC basically broadcast an early game to the whole country (out West, we always see the Leafs) and potentially a regional early game (Montreal, Ottawa) and then a late game nationally. Rogers, according to their mocked up schedule could be showing as many as five different early games and three different late games across their various networks (I don't know what the deal looks like with TVA in terms of advertising revenue, or if the $120 million TVA has paid Rogers is it, but my understanding is that Rogers has complete control over the CBC in terms of revenue/expenses). So the audience is potentially diluted across several channels, but again, more advertising space. I don't know what, if anything, that means.

3. The cost to ramp up - does Rogers have the talent pool/depth to cover this much? How much talent (on-air, camera, editorial, etc) do they need to now find...or will they sub-license further for the next year or two (e.g., allow TSN to buy some rights from them while Rogers builds the infrastructure needed)? And I would bet they would make TSN/Bell pay through the nose for that...while at the same time they are wooing talent away.

4. Rogers is more than just a cable TV company - it also owns 51 radio stations, does internet, provides wireless service, and is Canada's largest publishing company according to Wikipedia. I'm no media expert, but I'm guessing that they are going to use all of these in some way to leverage the heck out of this deal. And their acquisition of The Score suddenly makes a lot more sense to me than it did when it was announced.


Basically, sports is one of the few reasons left to maintain a cable subscription from my perspective - just about everything else is available via other means, but live sports is hard to get any other way. So I think Rogers is trying to position themselves as a major player in whatever happens with cable, along with all of the ways media is going to change in the next 12 years...they have a product that they can package/distribute across a multitude of media and use to help springboard themselves into whatever media delivery method is next - because they anticipate (and are quite likely right) that millions of Canadians will pay to watch hockey on it.
posted by nubs at 8:19 AM on December 2, 2013


So when people say the CBC "couldn't pay" I think you have to remember that the CBC pays for it by selling ads just like Rogers does.

I was coming back to say the same thing that nubs did (but probably not as well as nubs did).

Rogers (says it) is not relying on ad revenue alone to profit from purchasing NHL rights. Instead, Rogers is going to put the content essentially behind a paywall; subscriber fees are what is going to make this work for Rogers, and that's the big problem if you like hockey.

My son loves hockey. We don't have cable, but we can watch live-streamed games over the Internet on CBC. We won't be able to do that any more.

CBC, being a public broadcaster, would never have been able to implement a subscriber model for hockey.

Rogers has talked about other ways of "marketing" the content, including rebroadcasting classic games and series (Rogers has rights to the entire NHL archive), and they're also talking about things like helmet cams and this and that.

So there is going to be a lot more innovation and a lot more "products" offered, but it will cost you more than your "advertising eyeball" to watch it.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:36 AM on December 2, 2013


And where did Reform Party nerd come from? 1989?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:37 AM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rogers seldom puts a foot wrong. Anyone remember how Rogers scooped up SkyDome ( that $625+ million government-backed boondoggle) for $25 mil?

They have the deep pockets and they play a long game. They will probably clean up on this.

There's no way CBC could have bid against Rogers for the whole enchilada. The risk, the perception that the CBC were competing with private broadcasters using "taxpayer" money, all of this would have strengthened the conservatives' case for dismantling the CBC.

Besides the CBC, the big losers will be Canada in general, if hockey is only available via subscription.

How could anyone hate Montreal? And the creative output of Quebec has greatly influenced the quality and range of Canadian culture. And boy, do they love hockey.
posted by Artful Codger at 9:50 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder what will happen to Punjabi Hockey Night in Canada?
posted by Kabanos at 10:09 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


My son's best friend watches the Punjabi broadcast.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:27 AM on December 2, 2013


This could be interesting, as depending on what Rogers does the CRTC might get involved - see the end of the article for the example involving Bell and NHL/NFL rights on mobile devices.
posted by nubs at 11:48 AM on December 16, 2013


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