The Sports Daily > The 6th Sens
Bell Media Acquires Senators Regional Rights

One day after Bruce Garrioch wrote about the Ottawa Senators being on the verge of announcing a new regional broadcasting agreement, the Ottawa Citizen’s James Gordon swooped in and confirmed this afternoon that Bell Media has acquired the Senators’ rights for the next 12 years.

Ever since the announcement that Rogers had captured the national broadcasting rights with their massive $5.2 billion bid, it was expected that Bell Media would throw piles of money at the Ottawa Senators to procure their regional rights.

Like Ville Leino hitting free agency and new Sabres owner Terry Pegula wanting to show Buffalo fans that he was a departure from previous owners, this is a situation in which the Senators were simply in the right place at the right time and they capitalized on the market; forgoing any loyalty to Sportsnet, the network that has held their regional rights since 1998.

According to Garrioch, the Senators’ current broadcast deal brought in approximately $7 million per season (though it's not clear if that's just what Sportsnet pays or all local broadcast revenue together; Sportsnet, RDS, TVA, and radio).

Senators fans will continue to listen to the Senators radio broadcasts on TSN 1200 and watch games on RDS, but for the first time, they will now be able to watch the team’s regional games on TSN.

It remains to be seen what the impact of this will be on Dean Brown, Denis Potvin or any of the other television personalities who frequent the current Sportsnet broadcasts. Especially since Dean has been doing the team’s television play by play since 1992.

Garrioch wrote, "it's believed the Senators would like play-by-play man Dean Brown and partner Denis Potvin to remain in place but TSN has the final say on talent. TSN already has play-by-play men Gord Miller, Chris Cuthbert and Dave Randorf on staff. They will be looking for spots to use their big players. Color analyst Ray Ferraro has also signed an extension."

It is worth mentioning that Dean has worked for TSN before. He worked as a correspondent for TSN covering the CFL in Ottawa before the Senators’ modern existence.

So who knows?

Personally, I’d be pretty bummed out if Brown and Potvin were moved out of the picture. Admittedly, I’m bit biased here because I worked with the guys as Sportsnet’s statistician for two seasons on the Senators broadcasts, but I enjoy their work and I can’t emphasize enough how great of guys they are.

Like many sports personalities, I know both men have their share of detractors, but for me, they’ve essentially become synonymous with Senators hockey.

Show Me The Money

Of course what the fans ultimately will be concerned with is how much money the Senators will be receiving on the current deal.

A report out of Montreal last month revealed that RDS would now be paying $68 million per season for the Canadiens regional rights (up from $31 million).

So although the Senators new agreement with Bell will likely not approach the figure that RDS recently paid, the deal is expected to be substantial relative to the previous deal.

Much has been made over Eugene Melnyk’s well publicized comments to City Council about the hockey team’s bottom line and its ability to generate revenues to offset its losses, so this improved revenue stream inevitably will provide a massive boost to the team’s bottom line.

There is an incredible amount of skepticism within this city for Melnyk’s claims about the team’s ability to turn a profit. More so because just a few seasons ago, Melnyk offhandedly told Bob McCown that the Senators no longer had to reach the playoffs for the team to turn a profit.

Due to this skepticism and Melnyk’s insistence that the team does not have to spend money to win, whether it’s deserved or not, there inevitably is going to be some kickback if the Senators do not invest in their payroll at some point in the future.