The new Canadian broadcast rights deal with Rogers has changed the television landscape in Canada and made a ton of money for the NHL, but it's also caused the luddites no end of frustration and confusion. But it's nothing a quick call to Your Local Cable Television Provider™ and five more bucks won't fix.
Full disclosure: I’m a complete luddite. As such, I wish we could have just stopped at CDs and DVDs. I think space travel is a complete waste of valuable money and intellectual resources that could be far better used to, say, eradicate poverty here on Earth, where people actually live. My 15-year-old son does a lot of sighing and gritting of teeth as I fumble through a game of NHL 15 with him.
When the NHL negotiated its 12-year, $5.2 billion landmark deal for the Canadian broadcast rights with Rogers, it was easy to grasp how enormous the deal was, how good it was for the NHL from a financial standpoint and how it would change the viewing landscape in the four-screen universe and all that. I got that.
But that did not prevent me from pushing buttons in frustration and yelling at my television last night as I frantically searched for the Pittsburgh-Detroit game. Heard it was a pretty good game. Kudos to those plucky Red Wings (heh-heh, plucky Red Wings) for scoring twice with their net empty with under three minutes left before winning it in overtime. Boy, it sure looked exciting on the highlights.
But I couldn’t see it live because, until this morning, I had subscribed only to the NHL Center Ice Package™ and not Rogers Sportsnet. When I opted not to add Rogers to my package at the start of the season, I thought it would mean that I would miss some games, namely the Maple Leafs regional and national games that were on Rogers. But that really didn’t bother me for a couple of reasons. First, I go to a lot of the Leaf games, so I don’t need to see them on television. Second, if I miss a game, all I have to do is tune into a local sports radio station after the game and get Gino from Woodbridge’s take on the action and I’m good to go.
Last year when TSN had the national rights, that was how it worked. Since I subscribed to TSN, I got all their national games, plus all the regional games for the other 29 teams in the league. And they were all clustered around the same spot so I could find them relatively easily.
But this season was completely different. Until today, I never knew from one day to the next which games I was going to get and which ones would be blacked out, even with the NHL Center Ice Package™, and I’ve had a devil of a time finding them. It’s enough to drive an old white guy crazy, I tell you.
The way it was explained to me by Rogers is that it’s not that much different from last season. National games, such as those on Hockey Night in Canada, have never been part of the Center Ice Package™. And the Pittsburgh-Detroit game was a nationally televised game on Sportsnet 360, whatever the hell that is. That's why I was unable to watch it.
So after the wife goes off to work I gets on the old blower and calls My Local Cable Television Provider™. Fully expecting to have to jump through a conga line of hoops to have things made right, I figure I’ll be forced to either have to change my cable package and lose that beloved channel with the logs burning in the fireplace or pay a king’s ransom to have Rogers Sportsnet added to the package.
Turns out, all I had to do was commit to paying an additional five bucks a month on my cable bill and I could get the complete roster of Rogers Sportsnet channels. Five bucks. One call. Should have done it a month ago.
Now I realize that an additional $60 a year to watch more hockey represents a not-so-insignificant expenditure for some people and I can appreciate that. And I fear for those who can’t afford cable television and where they’ll get their hockey once Hockey Night in Canada is out of the picture completely in four years.
It’s all very confusing. I suppose I could have cut the cord with My Local Cable Television Provider™ and turned to on-line services, but that would once again challenge my luddite-ity. I’m just happy I get all the games now, even if it means I’ll be having to see more of Nick Kypreos and my former Toronto Star colleague Damien Cox.
Now if I could just get those kids off my lawn.