Lucky start to TSN’s Cup coverage
Meanwhile, TSN French sister RDS has exclusive French-language coverage of the playoffs, and will broadcast over 50 games - with the Montreal Canadiens getting top billing throughout the first round.
TSN made history on Thursday when Game One of the Calgary/Chicago series gets underway, marking the first time the sports specialty has exclusive coverage of a Canadian team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, following last year’s deal with the National Hockey League.
It was a close call, as CBC had dibs on the first two teams it wanted to cover in the post-season, while three Canadian teams – Toronto, Ottawa and Edmonton – were eliminated. When the Montreal Canadiens squeezed into a playoff spot last week, CBC selected the Original Six series between Montreal and Boston, in addition to Vancouver/St. Louis, leaving TSN to cover Calgary.
‘We’re expecting a significant [audience] boost from that series,’ says TSN’s VP production Mark Milliere, adding that Calgary is an exciting team to have in the first round.
Milliere says TSN brings a lot of wraparound support programming to the series including its flagship news show Sportscentre, Michael Landsberg’s Off the Record, That’s Hockey and TSN.ca, which is going to have a ‘heightened focus’ on the series.
For its part, CBC is happy with its four series, which will all be carried nationally, though Hockey Night in Canada exec producer Sherali Najak concedes it would have been great to have Calgary.
‘I feel all Canadian teams should be on Hockey Night in Canada, and absolutely we’re disappointed we didn’t get Calgary… it’s just the way the contract is stipulated,’ he says.
TSN and TSN2 will also broadcast US matchups including defending champion Detroit versus first-time playoff contenders the Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey/Carolina and Washington/New York, the latter featuring the NHL’s top scorer Alex Ovechkin.
Milliere says TSN2 is a ‘great complement’ to its coverage because of numerous scheduling conflicts in the first round.
‘It’s impossible that all our four series are going to run in isolated nights and time zones,’ he explains. TSN2 will carry some Carolina/New Jersey and Columbus/Detroit games.
For its US matchups, CBC will drum up coverage of Canuck star exports Sidney Crosby in the Pittsburgh/Philadelphia series and Joe Thornton in the San Jose/Anaheim bout.
The sportscasters will go head to head with their coverage of Canadian teams on several occasions, beginning Thursday with Montreal/Boston airing at 7 p.m. on CBC, while Calgary/Chicago follows with a pre-game show at 7:30 p.m. on TSN.
Meanwhile, TSN French sister RDS has exclusive French-language coverage of the playoffs, and will broadcast over 50 games – with the Montreal Canadiens getting top billing throughout the first round. The ‘caster is looking to build on last year’s record-breaking numbers, when three games featuring the Canadiens topped the two million viewer mark. (All numbers 2+.)
CBC, TSN, and RDS are all coming off a strong 2008/09 NHL season heading into the playoffs. TSN averaged 479,000 viewers per regular season game – an increase of 17% over last year – while CBC’s HNIC scored 1.2 million viewers on average for game one, which marks a 5% increase over 2007/08.
RDS enjoyed an 11% increase over last year, averaging 795,000 viewers per game for the regular season.
From Playback Daily