Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Post 2521 - A Sports Rant (Yes! Really!)

I am not sure how much I care, but today's news is all about how the CBC is all-but-losing its broadcast rights to the National Hockey League.

I have a couple of thoughts. First of all, Gary Bettman is a sleaze ball. I have never liked him or respected him. He is a ruthless deal maker with no sense of loyalty. The CBC had been exclusive NHL broadcaster on television for over 60 years. Last week, Bettman thanked them for their years of service and suggested they contact the new provider, Rogers, to see if they could make a side deal. Real nice of them. Of course, Rogers will continue with the Saturday night Hockey Night In Canada, but will control the content and take every cent of the revenue from the ads it sells.

I am not a big sports fan. That is putting it mildly. But there is something to be said for how, when we are at the cottage with no internet connection, no cable, no satellite, we had the option of firing up the television and watching a hockey game. We seldom took advantage of it; but it felt good, felt right, felt Canadian, to be able to exercise that option.

The  Rogers brain trust has said that they will allow the CBC to have access to Saturday night hockey, for at least 4 years. But, once again, that is being seen as a way for the corporation to say goodbye to having hockey at all. Who knows what programming will ultimately replace hockey on the CBC? Lacrosse? Curling? Floor hockey?

In four years, when this relationship between the CBC and Rogers goes away, people who have no means will have to find a way to pay to see NHL hockey. They would need a massive data plan to see it on their Rogers-based smart phones, or have cable, or satellite, or a home network with enough bandwidth to stream that content to their smart televisions or whatever media player they have hooked up to their not-so-smart televisions. All of these methods of obtaining this content will cost money.

There are people jumping up and down for joy today. They think this is a great thing. They're entitled to their opinion. I think, though, in 10 years or so, they will look back at today and realize that having to pay to sit at home and watch a hockey game is a vile prospect. Then, they will look at their cable or satellite bill, or the fee they have to pay their ISP to see what they used to be able to for free, and not be happy.

Rogers is so excited, not because they're going to be doing great things for the fans, but because they can realize money from the deal. Make no mistake. It's about money. Lots of it.

And, I have to wonder how many layoffs Rogers will have to make to its non-sports media content to pay the hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the NHL. They are already cheaper than a popcorn fart, as a former-Rogers employee told me some time ago. How much further will they cut to finance this huge financial obligation?

I think this is the first time in 2521 posts that I wrote about sports. Do I win a prize or something?

See you tomorrow.


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