The Rogers Megalodon Strikes: $5.2billion Deal Corners the NHL Market in Canada
How woven into the Canadian fabric is hockey?
Well, one indication can be found in its citizens' wallets. Canada remains the only country that honors hockey on its currency.
And it's a currency that just found its way in bunches to the NHL.
Just check out the Canadian five-dollar note:
Hockey is Canada's passion. The Stanley Cup is the oldest team trophy in North American sports. Athletes do amazing things to win trophies in other fields, but hockey players finishing shifts despite broken bones or dropping off their own lost teeth off at the bench in mid-shift reflects an expected level of intensity puts them in a stratosphere of admiration all their own.
And while other countries make odd claims about being the originators of the sport, its roots in Canada are unquestioned. Hockey Night in Canada has been an institution almost as old as radio and then television have been around. It's a constant ratings bonanza, claiming to attract over 25% of the nation's population for at least a segment of its Saturday night double-header.
Hockey as a hot broadcast commodity in the Great White North isn't news. But media conglomerate Rogers Communications swooping in to virtually monopolize the NHL media rights in Canada is. Its $5.2billion, 12-year deal is both an historic move and a harbinger of things to come.
Video technology is doing much more than enhancing established broadcast networks. It's attacking them. Viewers now have a smörgåsbord of platform selections to get their sporting fix, to the extent that a growing number of them don't see the need for anything but cheaper, basic cable services, if they even see a need for it at all.
This is a major concern for cable providers who offer a full slate of programing, such as dramas, situation comedies, news, and reality shows. The thought of losing a sizable sporting viewership is a nightmare scenario for broadcast poobahs. The size of the Rogers deal -- think about it: Canada only has 12million households wired for cable -- is the starkest example yet as to how crucially they consider sports programing to be to their financial well-being.
MLB teams have begun thriving on the riches of similar regional deals. The NHL pact in Canada raises this phenomenon to a new level. The NHL is also an industry leader in the forefront of video streaming propagation, so its financial future looks rosier with every new technological innovation.
Meanwhile, broadcast giants like Rogers are doing what they can to just remain in the picture.