NHL Notebook: Rogers reportedly to drop exclusive NHL TV rights following “money-hemorrhaging” 12-year deal

Cam Lewis
4 months ago
What does two-way baseball star Shohei Ohtani’s free agency have to do with the NHL? More than you might think.
According to Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun, the Blue Jays pursuing Ohtani — who will command a contract north of $500 million this winter — directly coincides with their 12-year contract to be the exclusive national television and digital rightsholder for the NHL in Canada coming to an end.
“The wildly expensive pursuit of Shohei Ohtani is corporately planned by Rogers to coincide with the end of its 12-year, money-hemorrhaging deal with the National Hockey League.
One negotiation may not be happening necessarily without the other expiring, veterans in the television business industry tell the Toronto Sun.
Rogers is seeking to turn itself from the hockey network — which has been an enormous drain on the company’s economics — into a Blue Jays first network that would include a team challenging for the World Series, centred around the brilliance of Ohtani, with Rogers Sportsnet, the network, reducing costs and increasing revenue all at the same time.”
Rogers signed the 12-year, $5.2 billion rights deal in November of 2013 and the first telecasts under the new contract premiered the following year in October of 2014. This is the 10th year, so there are two more NHL seasons left in 2024-25 and 2025-26 before the contract comes to an end.
The advantage of leaning fully into being a “Blue Jays first network” for Rogers is that they already own the team and the exclusive rights to broadcasting their games. Paying $500 million to sign Ohtani would be a massive investment, but it’s nowhere close to what Rogers paid for the national NHL package.
What’s next, according to Simmons, is unknown at this point. Rogers will continue to cover half of Toronto Maple Leafs broadcasts and all of the regional games for the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Vancouver Canucks, but it’s difficult to say what’ll happen to Hockey Night in Canada, Wednesday Night Hockey, and other flagship programming that’s been under Rogers’ umbrella for the past few years.
“Just what happens to the NHL rights in Canada is a matter of conjecture now. The large corporate structures, Rogers owning Sportsnet, Bell owning TSN, both as awkward partners as majority owners of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., have not shown what the future brings next.
TSN was absolutely stunned when it lost out on the national package of NHL games. That was 10 years ago. What the network and the company has learned since is that it has done better economically without the rights than it would have done with them. And Rogers so overpaid that if it could get out of the deal today, it would run to do so.”
For more on the Blue Jays and their pursuit of Ohtani, head to Blue Jays Nation.

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