Rogers Sportsnet ONE launches national digital channel
August 13, 2010
Rogers Sportsnet ONE – the new national digital channel which essentially pools content from the network’s four regional sports specialty channels – launches Saturday, August 14th.
By definition, it becomes the fourth national domestic specialty television offering for Canadian sport fans, alongside The Sports Network (TSN), TSN2 and The Score. Until tomorrow, Rogers Sportsnet was strictly a series of four regional feeds (Pacific, West, Ontario and East).
Rogers Sportsnet ONE will carry 25 Blue Jays games this season, yet as of end of business Thursday, the four games coming up this week are available only to Rogers Cable TV subscribers. Discussions are ongoing with other carriers in what appears to be a sequel to the staggered launch of TSN2 last fall, when it was made available immediately on Bell and others, but not on Rogers and Shaw until several weeks later.
Among the biggest beneficiaries are Barclays English Premier League fans, who will now have access to more live games.
Also winning – when you do the comparative math – are fans of the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, NHL clubs that each have long-term deals with Sportsnet. The Flames and the Oilers this week announced 10-year pacts that will put games originally slated for pay-per-view on Rogers Sportsnet ONE in those markets. The same applies to the Canucks for the next three years (as part of the comprehensive telcom, television and arena naming rights deal that sees the westernmost NHL team playing at the renamed Rogers Arena).
Problems include the fragmented distribution channels for many of those same fans, especially those of Premier League soccer, which is now spread across the Rogers regional networks, Rogers Sportsnet ONE, TSN2 and Setanta.
Rogers Sportsnet, understandably, believes the fragmentation has its merits.
“If you’re a general sports fan the Sportsnet regional network is addressed to you,” Vice-Presidnet of Rogers Sportsnet programming David Akande told Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star. “If you’re a more passionate sports fan but still a generalist, we’re driving programming to get you to pick up Sportsnet One. If you’re a passionate soccer fan, we’re driving programming for you to pick up Setanta.”
The programming required for the regional and new national digital sports channels is being stockpiled for video streaming at Sportsnet.ca. Premier League fans, for example, will have the opportunity to watch up to 300 matches during the 2010-’11 season for $149.99 (or alternatively, $14.99 per month).
The new channel kicks off its inaugural week of sports coverage with three live events in High Definition, starting at 9 a.m. Pacific Time with the Barclays English Premier League soccer match between defending champion Chelsea and West Brom (which will be followed Saturday, August 21st by a match between Manchester United and West Ham.
Gerry Dobson and Craig Forrest will host SoccerCentral to preview the match followed by the post-game show at 11:30 a.m. PT.
Rogers Sportsnet ONE will follow up with a National League West division battle between the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants at 1 p.m. PT before wrapping the inaugural evening of national coverage with the Toronto Blue Jays visiting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at 5:30 p.m. PT.
The new 24-hour national sports digital channel will feature over 800 hours of compelling live-event programming, the majority of which will be broadcast in high definition.
The first week of programming on Rogers Sportsnet ONE features coverage of the Toronto Blue Jays, the MLB club which operates under the ownership of Rogers Communications – which also owns Rogers Sportsnet ONE and the four Sportsnet regional channels, beginning with their three-game set in Oakland August 16th-18th, with first pitches at 6:30 p.m. PT on Monday and Tuesday and 12 noon PT on Wednesday.
In addition to the three Blue Jays telecasts, there will be seven other Major League Baseball contests in the first week of Rogers Sportsnet ONE’s launch, including Detroit at Chicago Sunday, August 15th at 11 a.m. PT and Detroit at the New York Yankees on Thursday, August 19th at 10 a.m. PT.
The Seattle Mariners will take on the Yankees in two Sportsnet ONE games, Friday, August 20th and Sunday, August 22nd.
Also part of the inaugural line-up at Rogers Sportsnet ONE will be the NBA in general and the Toronto Raptors in particular and four NHL clubs: The Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators (although those games are subject to NHL regional restrictions and will only be available to viewers in those areas). Only The Sports Network (TSN) has national cable rights for the National Hockey League, while CBC has national over-the-air rights for the NHL.
TheSportMarket.biz with files from Sportsnet.ca and Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star.