Why Isn’t Hockey Night in Canada a Part of CBC Sports’ Budget Cuts?

Hey, did you all hear?  This economy isn’t doing to good!  I know!  Even in Canada!  I know!  That Canada.  Anyway, the budget cuts in Canadian government have affected public broadcaster CBC, and particularly the sports department.  Chris Zelkovich has more in his terrific new “Sports Media Watch” blog:

Though sports produces a lot of CBC’s revenue, it didn’t escape today’s cuts aimed at overcoming the corporation’s $171 million shortfall.

Gone is the radio show The Inside Track, a CBC staple for decades. At this point, the CBC is saying only that the following sports will face reductions or cutbacks in coverage of alpine skiing, world aquatics, track and field, international figure skating and CONCACAF soccer. The depth of those cuts will be made clearer soon.

As for personnel, all the CBC is saying at this point is that 313 jobs will be cut in sports, entertainment, current affairs and sales.

That’s a shame for all of those sports, which dearly need coverage and exposure of some kind to keep awareness up for the events to thrive.  But what we noticed, and Zelkovich did too, is that hockey is pretty much unscathed.  Your telling me that Don Cherry’s wardrobe couldn’t pay to televise a season’s worth of figure skating action?

Anyway, Zelkovich is a real media member at the Toronto Star, so he got to ask CBC Sports President Scott Moore about it:

On the first point, CBC Sports boss Scott Moore says the fat has already been cut at HNIC through travel reductions and behind-the-scenes stuff. In fact, he says HNIC came in under budget after trimming.

But what about all those regional telecasts on Saturday nights? Surely, they don’t help the bottom line considering how much they add to costs.

Well, Moore says, in fact they do add to the bottom line. “The regional broadcasts have added from 100,000 to 300,000 viewers a night,” he says. “Without the extra Montreal Canadiens games, we would have less revenue because of lower ratings.”

Fair enough.  Maybe Canadian readers can help tell me if we should be smelling funny business here, but his explanations make sense to me.  Good news for fans of Hockey Night in Canada, we suppose.

4 Responses to Why Isn’t Hockey Night in Canada a Part of CBC Sports’ Budget Cuts?

  1. Josh says:

    Well, I made this point in the comments on his blog, but part of the CBC’s mandate is to be a national (read: not just Toronto) network. So I also think the regional telecasts have a place on that basis.

    What I’ve always wondered though, is why are the regional telecasts limited to the early game? Three Eastern teams in Canada, three Western teams in Canada – why isn’t there ever a split Western audience for the late game? My best guess is that it’s because the Leafs are featured nearly every single week (until recently it *was* every single week), which means that unless Toronto was playing Ottawa or Montreal, fans in those cities would never get to see their teams. By contrast, the Western games are split (somewhat) more evenly, with no one team dominating the schedule in the way the Leafs do.

    And while we’re talking HNIC, anyone got any theories about why the “national” game last week was Boston-Toronto (with an American team that’s locked into their division lead and a going-nowhere Canadian club), while Buffalo-Montreal (with two teams that were/are fighting for the playoffs *including* a Canadian team) was relegated to Quebec and BC?

  2. Chris says:

    Well, last year Hockey Night moved permanently into a studio at the CBC building in Toronto for Coach’s Corner and other intermission segments, instead of traveling to the National game’s venue, I’m sure that has saved them some bucks. They’d better not reduce the number of NHL games they show next year or the country will be outraged!

  3. Chris says:

    Josh, the Buffalo/Montreal game was officially the national game. It was seen in Quebec, and from Manitoba to BC and the 3 Territories. Boston/Toronto was only in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.

  4. Leafsfan1967 says:

    Hockey Night in Canada brings in big $$$ for the CBC and so it makes sense to keep it going, pretty much as is. Without the advertising $$$ from HNIC the CBC would be in even bigger trouble than it is.

    As far as the choice of games is concerned they are showing way more regional games than they used to which has improved their ratings. Having said that as bad as the Leafs are….


    …they still bring in high ratings and in fact, this year, they have played some of their best games on Saturday nights…

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