RDS nabs rights to 60 Habs games per season through to 2026

Posted: December 20, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Well take that TVA! Quebecor paid a reported $1.5 billion to nab French-language rights to 22 regular-season Montreal Canadiens games and rights to all NHL playoff action.

But when the deal was announced a few weeks back – a sidebar to the mega Rogers Media deal with the NHL – the fate of the other 60 regular-season Habs games was still up in the air. At the time, Rogers Media president of broadcasting Scott Moore told me Rogers’ preference would be that all of the Habs games would go to TVA. If you’re late to the game, let me just mention in passing that Rogers and Bell – which owns RDS – are not great pals.

So most of us figured either TVA would get all 60 Canadiens games or the Habs would give half to TVA and half to RDS, which has had all of the Montreal games for many years. Well guess what? The Canadiens have decided to give all 60 games to RDS and none to TVA.

The Canadiens announced Friday afternoon that it was giving the “regional” Habs games to RDS, through to 2026. This is a major victory for Bell and RDS and, let’s not beat around the bush, a bit of a slap in the face to Quebecor and TVA. Look Pierre Karl Peladeau just paid a reported $1.5 billion to snare rights to hockey games en francais and, again let’s not mince our words, franco Quebecers don’t care about any hockey games except for Habs games. And now they’ve lost most of the regular-season Canadiens games.

True TVA has the primo games, including all of the Saturday night games, and the playoffs. But frankly given the way the Hab-nots are playing right now, I’m not sure how much Habs playoff action we’ll be seeing in the near-future.

So what’s the deal here? Simple really. The Canadiens and Quebecor don’t like each other. Quebecor made a run to buy the Canadiens in 2009 and ended up losing out to a consortium headed by Geoff Molson. It’s well known that Quebecor is still very hot to get into the NHL business and is actively trying to get a franchise in Quebec City.

Keep in mind that the Canadiens are also very close to Bell. Bell is a minority owner of the Canadiens and the Habs play in a rink that happens to be called the Bell Centre. By the way, Bell also announced Friday that Bell will keep naming rights to the arena through to 2028. So the Canadiens stuck with their corporate pals at Bell and played hard ball with their corporate non-pals at Quebecor.

When you look at it like that, why should we be in the least bit surprised?

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