Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sportsnet One: The Phantom Menace?

Mustachioed D1 soccer enthusiast Andrew Bucholtz wrote a poignant post this morning on the availability of top-tier European football on Canadian channels, or lack thereof. Buried deep within the post is a criticism of Sportsnet One, the new flagship cable channel of the Rogers media empire, and their attempt to screw the rest of us.

Sportsnet One is essentially Sportsnet HD. It shows the Raptors, Blue Jays, Oilers, Flames, Canucks and Senators, with the hockey teams being restricted to their own markets.

So really, the only alternative programming that Sportsnet One will offer is European football, but, as Bucholtz points out,

1: Sportsnet One is available only on Rogers carriers.

2: Rogers only offers cable to Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

For now, the only thing we'll be missing out on is Rogers' rights to Premiership games. For now. Keep in mind this summer that the Vancouver Canucks took on the communcations giant as a business partner this summer.

13 Canucks games to be broadcast on Sportsnet One

Since BC viewers are unable to get Rogers One, this means there will be pressure on Shaw, the Western Canadian cable company, as well as sattelite carriers, to carry the Rogers channel.

The Canucks generally have 11-17 pay-per-view games per season. The package is about $11 a game or $15 in HD. If Shaw begins carrying Sportsnet One at, say, $5 a month, it disguises the cost of pay-per-view games as a regular cable channel, offering nothing that the old Sportsnet didn't do already.

Good business? Hell yes. Ethical? Hell no. It's not just the Canucks, but the Oilers and Flames each have 58 games to air via Sportsnet, without the release stating how many will be reserved for the Sportsnet One broadcast.

This would be the television equivalent to money-laundering. How many Canuck, Flame and Oiler fans refused to buy the pay-per-view broadcasts because of the inherent bias of the phrase? Under the 'Sportsnet ONE' umbrella, it's just another cable channel, like TSN2.

Unlike TSN2, however, Sportsnet is not actually committed to bringing sports programming to our homes, but more determined to shut us out from it.

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