Rogers scores 12-year deal to broadcast NHL games in Canada

Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:34pm EST
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Rogers Communications Inc has signed a C$5.2 billion ($4.9 billion) deal to broadcast National Hockey League games in Canada for the next 12 years, elbowing out telecom rival BCE Inc for rights to the country's most popular sport.

The landmark deal, announced on Tuesday, will give Rogers, Canada's largest wireless phone company and a major cable television operator, national rights to NHL games. That includes playoffs games and the Stanley Cup finals, guaranteeing it a trove of popular content it can broadcast across all its platforms.

Rogers has agreed to sub-license some of the games, including playoffs, to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, the country's public broadcaster, for four years. CBC will keep its highly rated Hockey Night in Canada program, a national institution that it has aired on Saturdays since the 1950s.

The deal largely freezes out BCE Inc's The Sports Network (TSN) specialty channel, which has relied heavily on NHL games.

"We are surprised that (BCE's) Bell Media is not part of this deal," Canaccord Genuity analyst Dvai Ghose wrote in a note. "Bell was clearly outbid by Rogers," he said, adding that Rogers will likely resell some rights to Bell, with whom it shares ownership of Toronto's professional hockey and basketball teams.

Rogers has also agreed to sell French-language multimedia rights to Quebecor Inc's TVA network.

The terms of the sub-licensing deals were not disclosed, but Canaccord's Ghose estimated they cover between 60 percent and 80 percent of Rogers' NHL outlay.

The deal gives Rogers rights to show games and other events such as the All-Star Game and the rookie draft on television, radio, online and via mobile devices.   Continued...

A woman walks by a sign at the Rogers Communications headquarters building on the day of their annual general meeting for shareholders in Toronto, April 25, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch