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TSN/RDS to retain exclusive CFL broadcast rights by Bruce Dowbiggin

Feb 1, 2013

Source: Globe and Mail

TSN/ RDS has retained its exclusive rights to the CFL, industry sources have told Usual Suspects. No details on term or money have been released.

Jamie Dykstra, a spokesman for the CFL says that, “the process is ongoing.” TSN has so far not replied to a request for comment on the report.

Sources told Usual Suspects that the negotiations came down to the last minute after weeks on intense talks.

TSN/ RDS had an exclusive window to negotiate a new contract that ended at midnight on Thursday. TSN’s previous deal was for six years at approximately $17-million per year. Sources had told Usual Suspects that the CFL was looking to double that figure.

With the expected popularity of the Toronto Blue Jays during the summer on Sportsnet, having a strong summer property to counter baseball is important to TSN, Canada’s most profitable cable sports operation in 2012.

Industry sources had thought that the CFL might diversify its broadcast package across one or more other Canadian networks as happens in every other major team sport. CBC was known to be interested in getting back into broadcasting the CFL, which had carried the league’s telecasts for half a century before TSN obtained the exclusive rights. CBC would not comment Friday.

Rogers, too, was thought to have interest in a CFL package to place on its new network, formerly The Score. They had no comment as well.

TSN/RDS has had exclusive rights to the CFL since 2006. As the sole broadcaster, TSN has given the CFL a profile and, judging by the record, excellent ratings for its Grey Cup coverage. Last November’s 100th anniversary Grey Cup game drew an average audience of 5.8 million viewers on TSN and RDS to see the Toronto Argonauts beat theCalgary Stampeders 35-22 at Rogers Centre.

In some quarters they’re thought to have rescued the league when it appeared it might die in the 1990s.

© Globe and Mail