Canadian French-language broadcasters TVA Sports and RDS have both seen a significant financial impact from the first year of the new rights cycle for North American ice hockey league the NHL, according to the Financial Post.
The newspaper, citing figures released by Canadian media regulator the CRTC, said Quebecor Media-owned TVA Sports nearly doubled its pre-tax losses to C$39.2m (€27.2m/$30m) in 2015, its first year as the official French-language broadcaster of the NHL. The Post said it was the largest loss for any specialised television channel in the country, with TVA having lost around C$20m per year since its formation in 2011.
TVA secured all of the Canadian French-language multimedia rights to the NHL under the rights deals struck in the country by the league in November 2013. The NHL signed a 12-year broadcast and multimedia rights agreement, from 2014-15 to 2025-26, with Canadian telecommunications company Rogers Communications. The deal was worth C$5.232bn, or an average of C$436m per season.
TVA Sports agreed to sublicense national French-language rights from Rogers for C$800m over the 12-year period. It pays more than C$60m each season for the broadcast rights to 20 regular-season Montreal Canadiens games, all other NHL regular-season games and the Stanley Cup playoffs.
TVA Sports’ rival RDS, which is operated by Bell Media, retains the rights to broadcast 60 regular-season Canadiens games. In its first year without full broadcast rights to the NHL, the Post said RDS saw its pre-tax profit fall 58 per cent to C$19.8m in 2015 from C$45.4m in the previous year.
TVA Sports’ total expenses also shot up by 250 per cent year-on-year to C$119m in 2015. However, the Post said revenues increased by nearly 400 per cent to C$81.7m while the broadcaster’s subscriber-base jumped from 1.6 million to nearly two million.