Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rogers to buy MLSE?

Oh joy! The gang that can’t score runs wants to buy the gangs that can’t score goals or baskets. What a novel idea. In what some fear as a potential “death blow” to the TSN all-sports network, Canadian communications giant Rogers Communications Inc. is rumoured to be interested in buying the controlling 66 per cent share of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment now owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.

Rogers owns the hapless Toronto Blue Jays professional baseball team, a team that has seldom been in contention to win anything since its glory days in the late 1980s and early pre-player-strike 1990s, culminating in back-to-back World Series championships in the 1992 and 1993. Since Rogers Communications purchased controlling interest in the baseball team on September 1, 2000, the Blue Jays have been a perennial failure on and off the field. During that time, Rogers has shown no indication it has the slightest idea of how to run a sports franchise.

“It wouldn’t be a death blow to TSN, nothing would at this point. But having the Leafs brand under the same [Rogers] roof would be a huge dent to the competition [TSN]. The power of the Leafs brand is second to none in this country and rivaled by very few sports companies in the world.”

– Toronto Sun
(Quoting an executive
familiar with the
Canadian sports
broadcasting landscape)

Undaunted, however, it apparently desires to try its hand at running Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies hockey teams, the Toronto Raptors basketball team and Toronto FC soccer team. The recent history of these teams has included far more failure than success, with the flagship Maple Leafs NHL team setting records for on-ice futility scarcely matched by any other professional sports franchise anywhere.

It should be noted at this point that around noon today, Toronto Sun reported:

“In a release responding to reports that Rogers is about to make a play to buy the 66 per cent share of MLSE owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, the company didn’t deny interest but refused to acknowledge it as well.”

Rogers Communications is the parent company of Rogers Sportsnet, a regional group of sports cable channels and a competitor of TSN. Sportsnet reportedly pays about $800,000 for each regional telecast of a Maple Leafs game. Even when the Maple Leafs are struggling on the ice, ratings for their games continue to be strong. Rogers currently has the rights to more Leafs games (28) this season than any other network, followed by CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada (24), TSN (17) and Leafs TV, an MLSE property at 13.

Certainly not doomsday news, but hardly great news for the much mistreated average Toronto sports fan.


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. The only thing put on hold longer than a Maple Leaf Stanley Cup appearance is a hapless Rogers customer seeking help for his cable service...

    They are uniquely qualified for the ownership of MLSE.