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article imageOp-Ed: Bell/TSN gets Christmas gift from NHL & NHLPA

By Nic Sulsky     Dec 17, 2012 in Sports
There is one event, and one media company, that will benefit significantly from the NHL lockout. The World Junior Hockey Championship (WJHC) is going to be a record-breaking television event for BELL/TSN in Canada.
There are two things Canadian sports fans love: cheering for their country and hockey. Look at how this country rallied around the women’s soccer team during the 2012 London Olympics. It was dramatic. It seemed as though everyone, from coast to coast, was talking about Christine Sinclair & gang; and TV ratings spiked. And that was for soccer, and female soccer to boot (pun, but no sexism intended – just reality that typically female sports are not widely watched on television).
Canadians have been starved of pro hockey for 2+ months and now, with the WJHC on the horizon, our great country is about to share in a collective release of bent-up frustration and need to watch, cheer and obsess over hockey. The WJHC is an annual ratings winner, but this year the rabid state of Canadian hockey fans will make this must-watch holiday event for sports fans a psychological and emotional necessity for all Canadians.
BELL/TSN is going to reap the benefits of this year’s WJHC in many ways. The audience is desperate for hockey so ratings are going to spike in a major way (note: with the tournament being in Ufa (Russia) this year, there will be some significant time zone issues – but relative to past years, I would be willing to bet that ratings increase dramatically for even early round non-Canadian games). Brands are desperate to market to the hockey fan, so ad rates on broadcast, online and likely even mobile are going to rise temporarily. Commentators/writers can now analyze the actual games not the sport’s labour issues (which will help the overall morale on the production side and in the newsroom).
Also to pay attention to: Junior hockey and it’s players will get a massive launch pad to spark a unique revenue opportunity that could come in the months following the WJHC; if the NHL/NHLPA don’t get pro hockey back on the ice. What will they do to convert national audience from WJHC TV watchers to local junior hockey ticket buyers?
Every media company in Canada has been gutted by the loss of hockey. Obviously, revenues are being affected. Employees in Canada’s sports media scene are getting let go. BELL/TSN, Rogers/RSN and CBC have all felt major pain as a result of the Lockout, but only one BELL/TSN will be able to actually capitalize on the lockout. In fact, this lockout may end up helping their bottom line as the loss of hockey related revenue likely does not supersede the amount of money that would have been spent on live hockey game production. They also get to directly pump up their WJHC coverage, which will significantly help online page-views; which are likely down as editorially, there is only so much non-hockey content Canadians will click on.
Every business that touches the pro game has been negatively affected by the owners and players inability to find a middle ground. Team & arena employees, broadcasters & media buyers, stats companies, bars, apparel shops and even (as I hold back a choke) player agents. This is not good for anyone…anyone except the WJHC, BELL/TSN and Junior Hockey as a whole. But still trumping everything for these fortunate folks, even though they are about to have an opportunity to be the only winners of the labour dispute, is their desire to see the NHL back; as fans.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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